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Aug 6, 2020

Welcome to Ideas Of India, where we examine the academic ideas that can propel India forward. My name is Shruti Rajagopalan, and I’m an economist at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University.

My guest today is Ajay Shah, professor of economics at the National Institute of Public Finance and Policy in New Delhi. Over the years I’ve learned a lot from Ajay’s academic and policy-oriented research on India, which is written at the intersection of economics, law, and public administration. 

His latest book, In Service of the Republic: The Art and Science of Economic Policy, co-authored with Prof. Vijay Kelkar, is an excellent overview of their interdisciplinary approach to policy in India. An important theme in the book is that market failure in itself does not justify state intervention. And between market failure and government intervention we must examine state capacity, the incentives of political actors, and the checks and balances provided by the larger institutional framework.

While Ajay used to be more focused on technical aspects of economics and about where markets can fail, now his focus is on working through the rules and institutional arrangements through which we govern ourselves. In addition to the ideas in the book, Ajay and I talk about this evolution in his thinking, his first-hand experience with policy making, his journey as an economist, major influences, and much more.

Full transcript of this episode

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