Friday, July 8, 2011

Public Policies – Need for Reality Check


There is a huge discontent with the outcomes of various policies. People may dispute but it is a fact. Practically all ministries have policies that are operating in some sort of a Silo. Policies have become subservient to Political Parties’ ‘isms’ & individual’s personal thoughts along the lines of those ‘isms’ or away from them.

While the Policies are almost lacking the Human touch and are centered on inanimate parameters like GDP, FDI etc. there also seems to be lack of a mechanism for reality check. An exercise that could bring back objectivity seems completely ignored.

The most interesting part here is that a country like India which has a huge population at 1.2billion should primarily at the welfare of these people, if governance is seriously considered to be a tool for betterment of lives of the State and its Citizens.

We don’t see the zeal in our policy making for how the basic needs of a possibly 1.5-1.75 billion people will be taken care of over next 20-30 years. How much ever we grow, the need for food, water, shelter and employment is never going to fade away. Right upto the civilizations state as Stone Age these basic needs are bound to remain. We can grow over and above them, but no growth is possible if these fundamental issues are first not brought under control.

It is important that Indian leadership understands the inflexion point at which India stands. Which businessmen are talking care of the business, Govt and policymakers must focus on the fundamentals that will always and permanently remain a matter of concern, especially for a rapidly rising enormous population.

The economic policies, infrastructure policy, security policy, cultural policy must all find their origin in these fundamental objectives. For e.g. in a 1.2bn population if employment is going to be replaced by technology at a mass scale, will it not result in a further disproportionate distribution of income? What is the oxygen requirement of such a huge population? So what is the forest cover that is necessary for a country like ours? What is the amount of nutrition requirement of such a population, how many years does it take to develop a cultivable land that can cater to such an enormous requirement? What is the amount of water that is necessary for irrigation and personal consumption of such a population? Then how much water will be needed by industries over and above the basic requirements? What kind of issues can erupt at a social level in such a huge population? What kind of cultural changes are necessary to maintain harmony & equity in such a society? The education agenda will also originate from such a study.

The list of such questions is bigger. It is not to say that the primary framework of policy-making is not on these lines. The point being made here is that somehow the fundamentals lose their centrality and policies lose their objectivity. Objectives have to be connected to us, the people of this country.