The book looks at how Tamil Nadu in Southern India developed a policy priority to delivering basic public services such as schools, child care, mid-day meals, public distribution, public health and other services. Unlike most parts of India, these services tend to function remarkably well in Tamil Nadu, making a huge difference to the lives of people.
Thanks to these services, much fewer children tend to die within the first five years or women at birth. The life expectancy of people has increased and the state has avoided major epidemics such as plague that have affected even well-governed states such as Gujarat. The availability of meagre pensions, mid-day meals and highly subsidized food grains also go a long way towards reducing people’s sense of vulnerability towards the most basic needs of life. Without doubt, Tamil Nadu has made major contributions to people’s lives by providing a wide-range of well-functioning services.
The first part of this book explores how this priority came to be. In the second part, I discuss how the insights from Tamil Nadu can help us understand the performance of public services in other states of India. In the process, I discuss questions such as why Kerala succeeded in providing services so effectively but the communists of West Bengal left government with a poor record of it. I also discuss recent improvements in governance in states such as Bihar and Chhattisgarh, and I debate what the media dubs as a change from ‘politics of identity’ to the ‘politics of development’.
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E-Book: Oxford Scholarship Online
- About Delivering public services effectively: TN & Beyond
- How I became interested in TN’s public services
- The root of TN’s commitment to services
- Decentralized action & Great social movements of Tamil Nadu
- Why decentralized action increased from 70s in Tamil Nadu
- Why public services & not land reforms?