18 million people are estimated to work for the Indian national government, and that number doesn’t include India’s regional and state governments. Yet, compared to the size of the Indian population—1.3 billion—it’s not very large. The biggest challenge for the Indian state is not its size, but its inefficiency. While the last three decades have seen dramatic transformations in the country’s economy and the private sector, the state has failed to modernize at the same rate. Tom Carver talks the authors of a new book titled, Rethinking Public Institutions in India, Carnegie Senior Fellow Milan Vaishnav, Devesh Kapur and Pratap Bhanu Mehta, about the massive challenges India faces and the state’s ability to adapt.

Milan Vaishnav is the author of When Crime Pays: Money and Muscle in Indian Politics (Yale University Press and HarperCollins India, 2017). His work has also been published in scholarly journals such as India Review, India Policy Forum, and Latin American Research Review. He is a regular contributor to several Indian publications.

Devesh Kapur is the director of the Center for the Advanced Study of India, and a professor of political science and Madan Lal Sobti professor for the study of contemporary India at the University of Pennsylvania.

Pratap Bhanu Mehta is the president and chief executive of the Center for Policy Research in New Delhi and a contributing editor at the Indian Express.