Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Governance Unbound

Governance Unbound: Public Services, Players and Rules of the Game by R. N. Gupta from Aakar Books.

Have you ever wondered why? More than 50% of labour in the organized sector is shadow labour. 50% of food subsidy for the poor is misdirected or misappropriated. The rate of conviction in criminal cases is abysmally low. Under-trial prisoners accused of petty crimes rot in jail for long periods, even much beyond the jail term for the offence. Cadaver organs are rarely available for transplantation.

Registration plates on motor vehicles carry so many digits and numerals that nobody can remember them. Find the explanation for these and many other perverse outcomes of otherwise well intentioned public policies and programmes in India, ranging from need based services, such as caste certificates, to public goods - education, control of crime and corruption.

The problem seems to lie not in the policy design, implementing structures or incompetent officials - the usual scapegoats - but the unimaginative rules of the game which appear to ignore the incentives and behaviour of the human actors involved and are mainly concerned with filing forms and filing returns. Governments would do well, it is argued, to design appropriate rules and institutions which are compatible with the incentives of players not as econs, angels or demons, but as humans.

In our Governance section, Rs. 795, in hardback, 338 pages, ISBN :9789350023167

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