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.
Samuel Paul is the founder and chairperson of the Public Affairs Centre in Bangalore, India, and the author of "Holding the State to Account: Citizen Monitoring in Action." Suresh Balakrishnan is the chief technical advisor with UNDP in Laos and was previously executive director of PAC. Gopakumar K. Thampi is the executive director of Public Affairs Foundation, Bangalore. Sita Sekhar is chief research officer at Public Affairs Centre. M. Vivekananda is the senior advisor to Public Affairs Foundation, Bangalore.