Tuesday, March 25, 2014
‘Policy-Matters’ cause policy matters for sure!
Dictionary of Policy and Government defines Policy as follows: “policy – (noun) a detailed plan of how something will be done.” Traditionally, mostly at the popular level policy is considered as something dry, theoretical and at times irrelevant to day-to-day lives of the people. However, in reality most parts of our lives are controlled by; what they call as Policy Regimes. Policies aimed at liberalization, privatization and globalization changed our lives in the last decade of the previous century. Car manufacturing industry reaped the harvest and in India we started choosing from several options of vehicles of different makes, thanks to probably a wanton disregard of growing need for a smart, dependable Urban Public Transport Policy implemented in every city. It is the Policy or the lack of it made us witness contradictions in public administration in several ways. We had grains stored in the open; allowed to rotten in rainy season and shortage of food grain for the marginal sections. Students from the North- East subjected to humiliation for their distinct facial features and our school geography syllabus compelling us to learn about Brazil and Nigeria more than Nagaland and Arunachal Pradesh. Government wanting to reduce crude oil import bill and disallowing use of ethanol in petroleum products, at the same time. Continuing with the department of prohibition in several States on the one hand and encouraging production of wine on the other. Consistency, Jawaharlal Nehru had famously said; is the virtue of an ass and like Nehruvian secularism; we are yet to free ourselves from the hangover of this crass theorization of contradictions.
In today’s world, where governance has acquired a place of prominence in public mind and people are becoming more and more aware and alert on issues of public concern, it is necessary that every citizen acquire at least fundamental policy-literacy. After all Public policies are the instruments of State intervention in the political economy. These policies set out the plans and strategies of government in trying to work effectively for the larger good of the people. Therefore, it is important that the content of policies meet the aspirations of the people at large.
Evolution of public policy is largely considered as the domain essentially that of experts and researchers. However, off late; with the continuing spread of democracy and renewed emphasis on public participation, there appears a healthy trend of citizenry taking keen interest in public policy issues. With continued erosion of the quality of governance in major democracies and the resultant frustration, it is significant that the level of interest of the people at large in policy issues in rapidly enhancing. People are the principal stake-holders in any democratic polity and hence no citizen can afford to be ignorant, much less unconcerned about public policy.
Through this column, what we want to attempt is promoting greater policy literacy, creating a space for policy education and ultimately public scrutiny of policies and thereby aiming at policy transformation, wherever required. This is a long drawn process that can become interesting only if as citizens we are able to appreciate the organic relationship between several issues concerning the desired quality of our life and the present situation. Understanding policy issues is a two-way process. Policy makers need to listen to people for sure, but people also have to say something! Lets therefore share our ideas, experiences, impressions and criticisms of the prevailing policy regime and in our own way and together, take this discussion ahead. Through changing the shape of the things to come we can achieve shaping the change, beyond doubt!