Devesh Kapur of the University of Pennsylvania yesterday spoke at the Nehru Memorial Library on “India; The Suffocating State”. He retailed information that is familiar to most of us but with a twist in the tale. His most telling line was “The challenge India faces is the Indian state” which does difficult things well — Mars mission, etc — but cannot manage simpler more basic things, like providing public health, sanitation, law and public order, water, etc.As a state promising to undertaking to deliver “maximally” in all areas, it cannot deliver even “minimally”. This because the state and its social goods state delivery agencies are under-staffed but over-bureaucratised!
And then a devastating sidebar on IAF — On average it loses one fighting squadron every three years owing to accidents sourced 50:50 to pilot error and technical malfunction. Said Prof Kapur “Ïndia does not need an enemy! It does a good job of disarming itself!”
And finally the state does nothing about public sector enterprises that haemorrhage huge resources w/o anybody in govt batting an eyelid. Thus Rs 58,000 crores have been recently invested in Air India not only with no prospect of the airline recovering but with no end in sight of end to public monies being frittered this way. The irony is this airline is used mostly by the relatively welloff and in the context of pvt airlines running cost-efficiently w/o any public subvention! Most remarkably CAG which picks up on lesser scams has not once investigated Air India and its finances!!