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Book review: Political Economy and Bad Governance

Syed M Uzair reviews Jamil Nasir, a former civil servant's work on governance and its interplay with socio-political structures of the country. The author argues that the essence of governance lies in how state-society relations are structured and managed, and how citizens perceive the rules of the game.

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Political Economy of Bad Governance: Reflections on the interplay of elite structures, governance, and public policy choices by Jamil Nasir is a collection of essays produced for various leading newspapers and journals.

Major themes

The book is divided into eight sub-themes: namely democracy, political economy, rural political economy, governance, corruption, education, trade, and taxation. The book explores the link between democracy and various socio-economic and political issues that a country may face while sharing light on the interplay of politics and economy such as the relationship between rent-seeking activities and the conflicts of interest in governance.

Other important areas highlighted in it, and most relevant to the current situation that the country faces, are IMF conditionalities and that kind of approach adopted by global organizations such as the World Bank.

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The book also highlights agricultural and non-agricultural economies and their links to the challenges in human development. Considering the discussion on education, the author does an excellent comparison on the access to education between the haves and have-nots.

How two segments of the society have access to different quality of education that in turn paves way for development in the future. The book suggests designing appropriate incentives so that there is economic value in ensuring that children obtain an education.

Read more: Pakistan’s Agenda for Political Stability in the next decade: Nasim Zehra

Nasir, an alumnus of the prestigious Columbia University and a former Chevening fellow has served in the government bureaucracy as a Customs Collector at the Federal Board of Revenue.

In essence, Jamil Nasir has several years of experience not only working as a civil servant in Pakistan, implementing the various policies, and developing first-hand knowledge on the opportunities and pitfalls of such policies.

In the past, he also worked as a consultant to World Bank and this book provides an insight into the vast pool of knowledge and experience he has accumulated over the last two decades.

 

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