P. Sainath wrote Everybody Loves a Good Drought in 1996. Two decades later, it remains a terrific read for anyone seeking to understand rural India. The less you know about the dark space that is rural India, the less you have to be concerned about lighting a candle. In times of troubling patriotism and nationalism, contemplating on how cruelly 850 million Indians live is a first step towards a better future.
Many a living room discussion on the state of welfare policies in India ends with the statement "the problem really is implementation". The conclusion rests on the idea that planning a policy is theoretical and complex, but implementing it is more about effective ground logistics; there is little reason beyond bad bureaucracy or corruption for it to not happen. This explanation ignores a fundamental obstacle to implementation: the prevalence of prejudice, and how implementers decide who gets what.