The Economist: What's holding India back?
Failure to reform a bloated civil service is putting the country's huge economic achievements at risk.
“THE tiger is under grave threat,” India's finance minister, Palaniappan Chidambaram, intoned at one point in his budget speech on February 29th. He was referring to the stripy animals that prowl the country in declining numbers. But India's tigerish economy, which has grown by 9% a year on average over the past three years, is itself under threat.
In many ways India counts as one of liberalisation's greatest success stories. For years, it pottered along, weighed down by the regulations that made up the licence raj, producing only a feeble “Hindu” rate of growth. But over the past 15 years it has been transformed into a far more powerful beast. Its companies have become worldbeaters. Without India's strength, the world economy would have had far less to boast about.
Sadly, this achievement is more fragile than it looks. Many things restrain India's economy, from a government that depends on Communist support to the caste system, power cuts and rigid labour laws. But an enduring constraint is even more awkward: a state that makes a big claim on a poor country's resources but then uses them badly. ...