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December 12, 2017

State Capacity Freed is State Capacity Built

By Shruti Rajagopalan

In this article, Shruti Rajagopalan, Fellow, Classical Liberal Institute, New York University School of Law writes about the importance of freeing up state capacity to improve efficiency in government in Mint.




"Almost all of India’s governance problems can find links to the lack of manpower in state services. India has only 12-15 judges per million compared to the US’ 110 per million. The immediate goal is to reach the law commission’s 50-judges-per-million recommendation. Similarly, India has about 129 policemen per 100,000 citizens—only Uganda fares worse. In order to meet the UN recommended ratio, India is short of half-a-million policemen. The situation for judges and the police also holds true for firemen, traffic police, garbage collectors, inspectors, engineers, bureaucrats, and so on...Improving state capacity, while an obvious need, will not happen quickly. So, what can be done? Streamlining and shrinking the ambit of the regulatory state to a size that can actually be effectively enforced is one solution. The size of the Indian state in terms of its manpower may be small, but its size in terms of regulation is gigantic, and most of this regulation is either unenforced, or selectively and perniciously enforced... Repealing obsolete laws is both obvious and relatively easy, and will free up some state capacity. The government has taken small steps in this direction. But the bigger gains will come from structural reform to streamline the regulatory process."


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