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Monday, June 30, 2008

The two hot spots in improving governance in India

In India, we often have a broad notion that the performance of government at producing core public goods is bad. In order to make progress, it helps to focus on the hot spots, where things are extremely bad, so that the maximum bang-for-the-buck can be obtained in return for applying scarce resources of money, top management time and political capital.

Today in Mint there is a very interesting set of statistics showing results from a household survey focusing on poor people, done by Transparency International India and Centre for Media Studies, focusing on corruption. See the results and associated interview with Bhaskara Rao who heads the Centre for Media Studies.

The main result of this survey is:

Police 78 52
Land records 69 36
Housing 70 32
Water 42 12
Hospital 46 11
Electricity 44 11
NREG 47 11
Forest 36 11
PDS 54 8
Banking 26 7
Schools 28 5

I would take away one key message from this: the two areas where the maximum focus is now required are the police and land/housing. These are the hot spots with the worst corruption. Making progress on the police is inevitably tightly interlinked with the larger justice system, which includes the judiciary.

The larger discussion on `improving governance in India' would hence benefit from a focus on these two hot spots: making the police and judiciary function properly, and ending the corruption of the land market. If a prime minister or a chief minister or a mayor has to prioritise the use of his resources, these are the two areas which deserve top priority.


  1. Space audit of Govt estate would show how the GOI is sitting on idle land bank and underutilised real estate. They prefer selling underperforming PSU's but feel shy getting out of the bunglows allotted to them.Ofcourse one good justification is preservation of cultural heritage.

  2. There is one more G spot, Tax on agriculture. Its funny to see the feudal lords still not paying taxes in Independent India.The parliament is still scared of them.


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