The Ministry of Urban Development and the Council of Indian Industries organized a conference in Delhi yesterday called “Public-Private-Partnerships — The Learning Curve.” According to news reports, the tone of the conference seems to be in line with much of the discussion in India around PPPs, which sees them as the quick-fix solution to pressing gaps in infrastructure financing in the country. Among successful cases PPPs cited by experts at the conference was the example of solid waste management in Chennai. This seems odd to me: Chennai in recent years has relied on private contractors for trash collection in parts of the city. But contracting out parts of infrastructure provision hardly addresses the infrastructure financing gap that everyone is talking about. Indeed, I have yet to see any evidence that contracting out public services in India actually reduces costs. Different kinds of PPPs provide different benefits for the government, but discussion around PPPs tends to be so superficial that the distinctions between different relationships between the public and private sector get lost. Indeed, PPPs like the Chennai solid waste management example still leave government with the massive role of monitoring the quality of private sector operations. Both the government and the public need to understand that there is no quick fix to the problem of urban infrastructure, and no alternative to improving the quality of governance in India.