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Who Benefits from India’s Public Services?   
Who Benefits from India’s Public Services?

A People's Audit of Five Basic Services

samuel paul, suresh balakrishnan
gopakumar k. thampi, sita sekhar,
m. vivekananda
Hard Bound Book   :   Pages : 296
2006  Edition         :   ISBN - 81-7188-527-6
Price : Rs. 695.00;  US $ 59.95
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This book is an independent and pioneering effort to assess the state of India’s public services from a user’s perspective. Most people in India depend on the “state” for many essential services. Yet, the state’s monitoring of service delivery seldom goes beyond tracking public expenditure and physical outputs. Citizens who are the ultimate beneficiaries of these services are never asked for their feedback on the services despite the fact that they possess valuable information on the delivery, quality and responsiveness of services. The authors have admirably filled this gap and provided unique benchmarks with respect to five basic services that matter to most people, viz., drinking water, primary health care, primary education, public distribution of food and public transport across the major states of India. Based on user feedback from 37,000 households drawn from both rural and urban areas, the study derives important conclusions on the access, use, reliability and satisfaction with respect to these services. A key finding is that governments have done more for extending access to services, but much less for their effectiveness and reliability. Equally important are also the findings on how disadvantaged households and less developed regions have fared with respect to these services.

“This is yet another important milestone in the work of the Public Affairs Centre. I hope the survey will stimulate a productive debate, identifying areas which offer scope for improvement both in the formulation of policy design as well as in improving the quality of the service delivery system. An important aspect of the study is that we have today a benchmark that enables us to measure our performance in the years to come for the country as a whole and the States. I once again compliment Prof. Paul and his colleagues for having produced a study which has far reaching implications for the planning of our public policy and the social and economic development of our country.”

— Dr. Manmohan Singh, Prime Minister of India

“This monumental study covering the major states in India brings out in rich details the present status of services basic to human development, the extent to which the disadvantaged groups and those in rural and urban peripheries have access to these services and their priority needs. It also provides a valuable set of benchmarks and an innovative analytical design for monitoring the outputs and outcomes in a policy area critical in India's strategy for poverty reduction and economic reforms with a human face."

— Dr. V.M. Rao Honorary Visiting Fellow, ISEC, Bangalore


Dr. Samuel Paul is founder chairperson of the Public Affairs Centre (PAC), Bangalore, India. He spearheaded the development of “Citizen Report Cards” as an accountability tool. Formerly he was Director and professor of economics at IIM, Ahmedabad.

Dr. Suresh Balakrishnan is Chief Technical Advisor with UNDP.

Dr. Gopakumar Thampi is Exec. Director of Public Affairs Foundation, Bangalore and former Head of the Asia Desk at the Transparency International secretariat in Berlin.

Dr. Sita Sekhar is Chief Research Officer at PAC.

Prof. M. Vivekananda is Senior Advisor to Public Affairs Foundation, Bangalore.








Role of the State in Service Delivery

Gaps in Service Delivery

Institutional Factors Affecting Public Service Delivery

Concept and Approach to Involving Citizens in Monitoring Service Delivery

Scope of the Citizen Feedback Survey on Public Services

User Satisfaction as a Core Indicator of Service Quality

Objectives of the Study

Limitations of the Study


Provision of Public Services in India: A Review

Drinking Water

Health Care

Road Transport

Public Distribution System

Primary Education

Assessment of the Service Delivery System


Approach and Methodology


Sampling and Reliability of Estimates

Reliability of Estimates

Design of the Questionnaire

Fieldwork/Data Collection Modalities

Quality Assurance

Framework of Analysis


State of Public Services in India

Drinking Water

Health Care

Road Transport

Public Distribution System

Primary Schools

Child Care System


Public Services and the Disadvantaged Sections

Variations in Service Quality Experienced by SC/ST Communities

Variations in Service Quality Experienced in Small Villages

Variations in Service Quality Experienced by Very Poor Households

Summary of Findings on Services for Disadvantaged Sections


Satisfaction and Quality of Services: Validating the Linkage

Approach to Analysis

The Analytical Model

Empirical Results



Conclusions and Policy Implications

An Inter-service Comparison

Service Delivery and the Poor

Policy Implications



Annexure I: Demographic Profile of Respondents—All India
Annexure II: Indicators for the Services
Annexure III: Detailed State Level Tables on Indicators for the Services


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