New Delhi: The coronavirus pandemic has highlighted fissures in India’s public policies that are meant to ensure the provision of basic, essential services to all citizens, author and well-known journalist Shankkar Aiyar says in his new book The Gated Republic, which is scheduled to hit the shelves on 20 June.
The book is published by Harper Collins and is due to be released on 20 June on SoftCover, ThePrint’s new e-venue to launch select non-fiction books.
Seven decades since Independence, Aiyar says, the government continues to fail on key accounts — water, health, education, power and law and order — and also explains how people are shifting from their dependence on the elected government to a more privatised system, investing in a “pay-and-plug economy”.
People are repeatedly choosing the high costs of private services over the failure of public ones despite a continuous pump of taxpayers’ money. And this, he says, points to a singular harsh reality — “there is too much government and too little governance”.
Aiyar raises questions about India’s past and future in terms of privatisation. Can India sustain such private republics? What are the possible solutions to set right such failures in a landscape scarred by social and economic fault lines? Can the government reinvent itself?
Stating that the book is written for the people, Aiyar says it is “so that they can prod their elected representatives and demand to know how they and their country can progress when the state fails to deliver on the most basic of obligations”.
The book has already received rave reviews from leading names in the economic world, such as Chairman and Co-founder, Infosys Technologies, Nandan Nilekani, who said, “Shankkar Aiyar has surpassed himself with his latest book. With his knowledge of the political economy, he presents the stark reality — that Indians are paying twice for basic services, first as taxes, then as fees.”
Global investor and author Ruchir Sharma calls it a “a must-read for understanding the state of the Republic” rooted in anecdotes and ground reporting, while Bibek Debroy, Chairman, Economic Advisory Council to the Prime Minister, remarked, “Amidst the structural change India is experiencing, this disturbing book should make citizens demand more from their multi-layered governments.”
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