Oxford University Press, the world’s largest university press, recently organized a panel discussion on “Rethinking Public Institutions in India, a soon to be launched book edited by Devesh Kapur, Pratap Bhanu Mehta and Milan Vaishnav. The panel discussion aimed to focus on the work and analyze the challenges of governance faced by contemporary India.
The discussion emphasized that while the expansion and growth of India’s private sector and a vibrant civil society can fill in for some of the shortcomings of the public sector in the foreseeable future, there is a wide range of core functions from regulation to security, from social inclusion to public goods provision, where the State is-and will be-indispensable. The integrity and responsiveness of the Indian state to the multiple challenges facing the country, both internal and external, will fundamentally determine India’s future.
The co-panelists for this discussion included Montek Singh Ahluwalia, Indian economist; Shailaja Chandra, Former Secretary in the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare and Delhi’s only woman Chief Secretary; Ramachandra Guha, Indian historian and writer; Jay Panda, Indian politician, currently serving as a Member of the Lok Sabha; and Yogendra Yadav, Indian politician, psephologist and academic.
’This volume is a unique and illuminating study of India’s public institutions. No other book gets to the bottom of India’s governance deficits with the same combination of rigor and insight. It is essential reading for scholars, practitioners, and policymakers—not to mention ordinary citizens,’ said Arvind Subramanian, Chief Economic Adviser, Ministry of Finance, Government of India.
While a growing private sector and a vibrant civil society can help compensate for the shortcomings of India’s public sector, the state is—and will remain—indispensable in delivering basic governance. In Rethinking Public Institutions in India, distinguished political and economic thinkers critically assess a diverse array of India’s core federal institutions, from the Supreme Court and Parliament to the Election Commission and the civil services.
Relying on interdisciplinary approaches and decades of practitioner experience, this volume interrogates the capacity of India’s public sector to navigate the far-reaching transformations the country is experiencing. An insightful introduction to the functioning of Indian democracy, it offers a roadmap for carrying out fundamental reforms that will be necessary for India to build a reinvigorated state for the twenty-first century.