Very few times I get this satisfaction that a non Indian actually gets what India is about and how any attempt at categorizing India on any count is bound to be doomed. This interesting article by Lant Pritchett is a review of yet another interesting book on India. It is replete with evidence from recent research on Indian economy, most of which have found place on this blog. The puzzle that is India can be aptly summarized in Pritchett’s own words:
“Maybe you personally didn’t succumb to the romance of it all, but not so long ago there was an “end of history” fever going around: market economies and democratic polities would solve all ills as one would get prosperity from free markets and through democracy good governance would lead states to take care of anything markets couldn’t externalities, public goods, and all that. If you believe in markets and democracy, India is a billion person strong puzzle: sixty years of democracy, rapid growth for thirty years (real per capita GDP has increased almost threefold 1978 to 2008) and it has child malnutrition among the highest in the world, infant mortality worse than Bangladesh, learning achievement on a par with Ghana— and those are the ones with easily comparable data, one suspects similarly low quality implementation is true of water, of roads, of policing or electrical power.”
The whole article is very readable and that I hope indicates that book in itself should be very readable and insightful.
Pritchett Lant (2009), A Review of Edward Luce’s In Spite of the Gods: The Strange Rise of Modern India, Journal of Economic Literature, 47:3, 771–780.