Syndicate content

Add new comment

Submitted by Nachiket Mor on
Dear Stuti, Thank you for your detailed response. Given the weak and persistent performance of the state in providing services I wonder if there is a way to benefit from this proclivity towards vote buying. In India as you know there is now a new trend towards electronic benefits transfers / unconditional cash transfers, which the left wing parties have labelled as another form of vote buying. This is a relatively simple transformation. A more complex effort is one in which health insurance schemes have been designed and then offered by the government to citizens as another form of "vote buying". At some point the government may move in the direction of using school vouchers as another form of "vote buying". I wonder if this is all as bad as it sounds though. Maybe it is a pragmatic response to the sheer inability of the state to deliver and perhaps what we need to do is look carefully at the designs of these "vote buying" schemes to ensure that they are indeed beneficial both in the short-run and the long-run and maybe even develop a menu of such "vote buying" schemes so that the politicians back away from bad "vote buying" schemes such as "free power" or "loan waivers" or "interest subventions on farm loans". I guess the rub will come when (and if) we conclude that the state is the only logical provider of these services and there is no way to design a "vote buying" effort which simply involves giving things away. In my own view elementary education falls squarely within that category and even healthcare does unless we can imagine that the state can be a stronger regulator than it has been a provider -- the literature seems to suggest that a weak state is better off struggling with provision than with regulation - the risks of capture and wholesale subversion may be much higher in the latter scenario. Best regards, Nachiket Mor