There is plenty on India, RCTs, economic development, and education. Here is one bit from Pritchett:
Everybody is getting a crappy education. One of the few times I’ve gotten a spontaneous standing ovation was, I was giving a talk about Indian education to a group, mainly of IAS officers—and who were elites of the education system, who have emerged as elites from the system. I was talking about the deficits in the Indian education system. I just said, “Look, I know everybody in this room is intrinsically smarter than I am by a lot, because imagine where you would be had anyone given a shit about what you actually learned.”…
It was that the curriculum is so out of touch and the teaching is so out of touch with good teaching that by not learning the fundamentals early, it’s not the case that the elite are getting a great education. Indonesia is another place I’ve worked and lived and have a lot of love for. When the OECD did adult literacy tests, fact of the matter is that adult literacy of tertiary graduates in Jakarta—this is just a sample of the most elite city, the most elite—were lower than high school dropouts in the OECD.
Again, I think there’s this illusion that there’s this very steep gradient in a low-performing system and that the elite are coming out with super good educations. I agree that the elite coming out of the Indian system are super impressive, amazing people because no way could I have survived the education system. I’m not claiming the Indian elite aren’t unbelievably world-competitive with any elite everywhere. There’s a reason why the Indian elite come out and are now CEOs of major American corporations, but it isn’t because the education system has been this wonderfully value-added process.
It’s been an unbelievably brutal selection process, which select on a bunch of overcoming features like grit and determination and drive that then might be good signals of who could be an effective CEO. If you can survive the Indian education system, of course you can run Google.
RAJAGOPALAN: How has your Utah-Idaho background, lots of exposure to Mormonism—how has that affected or shaped your perspectives on economic development?