A crucible of ideas
As a columnist, Shankkar Aiyar specializes in the interface between politics and economics. His latest book ‘The Gated Republic: India's Public Policy Failures and Private Solutions’ is about in the 70 years, since India became a republic, the country is still failing on some key fronts - power, water, security and law, education and health. Aiyar is a prominent India-based political economy analyst, journalist, columnist and author. He is presently a visiting senior fellow at IDFC Institute based in Mumbai. He has been a journalist for over three decades – his 1991 scoop on a bankrupt India pledging its gold reserves made national headlines – he has won awards and been at the helm of a national newspaper and newsweekly.
Aiyar argues in his latest book that Indians are seceding from dependence on the government for these most basic of services and are investing in the pay-and-plug economy. He says that citizens have internalized the incapacity of the state to deliver these and are opting for private providers despite the costs. He questions, can India sustain private republics amidst public failures in a landscape scarred by social and economic fault lines? What are the possible solutions? Can government reinvent itself? The Gated Republic enquiries into the country’s history, from the British-era to the modern day Indian policies and the future of private India. In a recent interview Aiyar said "The investigative book is written for the people, so that they can prod their elected representatives and demand to know how they and their country can progress when the state fails to deliver on the most basic of obligations"
Aiyar has also authored ‘Accidental India’ . The book fetched him acclaim as a public intellectual. It is an in-depth study of the political and economic history of modern India, that examines the country’s ascent and transformation through arresting angles of seven game changers, one for each decade since 1947. He has also authored a study on India’s Socio-Economic Fault Lines and its 100 worst districts. His investigation on 25 years of political corruption, Smoking Guns, is part of an anthology on Indian journalism.
‘Accidental India’ argues that these turning points in the country’s history were not the result of foresight or careful planning but the serendipitous consequences of major crises that had to be resolved at any cost. As a best-seller, the book has received acceptance from academics and policy makers. The book is now being translated into Hindi and Marathi.
Aiyar has been a Wolfson Chevening Fellow at Cambridge University where he studied the Lifecycles of Emerging Economies. Aiyar is also an empaneled expert on the political economy for news channels and is invited to decode the interface of politics and economics for Indian and international audiences.