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Submitted by Sri-Ram Aiyer on

Excellent piece Shanta, and so true about public goods. The point on redistribution has been shown empirically to be correct, judging by the Bolsa Familia program in Brazil initiated under President Lula, and the conditional cash transfer (CCT) programs in Colombia (although first attempted in Mexico's poorest states, during the Salinas presidency). But these too need a good degree of enforcement of basic conditions, e.g., school attendance, visits to primary health clinics for vaccination etc.

The right to information is not common even in countries with ostensibly reasonably open news media, most often since the sources of info are often government agencies.

The underlying problem seems to be efficiency of public expenditures, whereby spending on subsidies such as for food, fuel and fertilizer is, more often than not, abused by intermediaries who pocket most of the funds--witness India. The other is the political pressures in all types of regimes to cater to particular vested interests--of many stripes, religious, political, tribal etc. The media may again offer a solution as more information becomes available from a wide range of sources.