Gurchuran Das writes,

the old centralized bureaucratic Indian state is in steady decline. Where it is desperately needed — in providing basic education, health care, and drinking water — it has performed appallingly. Where it is not needed, it has only started to give up its habit of stifling private enterprise.

…according to a recent study by Harvard University’s Michael Kremer, one out of four teachers in India’s government elementary schools is absent and one out of two present is not teaching at any given time. Even as the famed Indian Institutes of Technology have acquired a global reputation, less than half of the children in fourth-level classes in Mumbai can do first-level math. It has gotten so bad that even poor Indians have begun to pull their kids out of government schools and enroll them in private schools, which charge $1 to $3 a month in fees and which are spreading rapidly in slums and villages across India.

…The share of private spending on health care in India is double that in the United States. Private wells account for nearly all new irrigation capacity in the country. In a city like New Delhi, private citizens cope with an irregular water supply by privately contributing more than half the total cost of the city’s water supply. At government health centers, meanwhile, 40 percent of doctors and a third of nurses are absent at any given time. According to a study by Jishnu Das and Jeffrey Hammer, of the World Bank, there is a 50 percent chance that a doctor at such a center will recommend a positively harmful therapy.

Jeff Hammer was a classmate of mine at Swarthmore and MIT. Thanks to The Indian Economy blog for the pointer, and thanks to Prashant Kothari for the pointer to the pointer.