Through the first half century after independence, India’s leaders could point to uneven but measurable progress. After the mid-1980s, dire poverty declined for a few decades, inspiring declarations of victory. But today, a vast number of Indians struggle in a state of underemployment and are one crisis away from despair. Public goods—education, health, cities, air and water, and the judiciary—are in woeful condition. Policy makers search for easy solutions that further undermine the provision of public goods and job creation. India Is Broken is a history that explains how India landed in this economic catch-22.
Mody contends that successive post-independence leaders,starting with Jawaharlal Nehru, failed to confront India’s true economic problems. India’s economic growth relied increasingly on unregulated finance and environmentally destructive construction. Social norms and public accountability decayed, allowing for the rise of a violent Hindutva. Hard-hitting, strongly argued, data-driven, and drawing on vignettes from cinema, this book will make for relatable and sombre reading.