Public Policy Drivers

Session Report
Harshaa Kawatra

LPPYF Law and Public Policy Youth Fellowship is an Online National Summer School Program, a Two- Month Online Immersive Legal Awareness & Action Research Certificate Training Course and Internship Program, from June-August 2023 by IMPRI Impact and Policy Research Institute. An informative and interactive panel discussion on “Public Policy Drivers” was held on the 26th of June, 2023 by Shri Bhartendra Singh Baswan IAS (Retd), Former Secretary, Department of Secondary and Higher Education, Ministry of Human Resource Development, Government of India.

The chairperson for the programme is Professor Vibhuti Patel, who is a distinguished visiting professor at IMPRI, and Panel expert Shri Bhartendra Singh Baswan.

The session was inaugurated by the chair Prof. Vibhuti Patel, Visiting Distinguished Professor at IMPRI with a summary to the previous week sessions given by experts. She thereafter welcomed the expert Shri Bhartendra Singh Baswan to commence with the session of Public Policy Drivers; it is an important factor in case of formulation, conceptualisation, modification, implementation and evaluation of public policies.

He discussed the essence of Public Policy Drivers. He introduced his lecture to be free-wheeling that will touch on all policy issues briefly. 

How is public policy formed?

If the government takes a view or feels the need of change in policy or innovation, there is a set procedure followed. The cabinet ministers responsible brainstorm amongst themselves. Thereafter, all the stakeholders are taken into consideration for suggestions along with inputs from the public.

Once relevant data is collected, the ministry concerned with approval of the cabinet prepares a White paper. After its preparation, it is processed under ministers and cabinets after which it passes legislation and then to houses of the Parliament. The Parliament studies and looks for changes made in the law.

It is broken into committees where ministers of the ruling and opposing parties work in harmony and yield fruitful discussions. These committees scrutinise and work towards the policy build. Change in policy tends to take time unless the government issues and accordance discussing the pros and cons of the same.

1st Driver: Ideology

Around 100 years ago very discrete lines were drawn between the right and left. The Marxist experiment done in Russia during the Russian revolution changed a lot in terms of industrialization and behaviour of workers. Countries like the Netherlands that pushed the Russian revolution were under the circumstances of the Civil war. Leaders back at that time wanted the Soviet to become the ruling power. Markets were booming post World War 1. Post this, owing to the Great Depression and political instabilities there were markets collapsing.

This led to changes in the demand and supply of markets highlighting Keynesian theories. Post World War 2, governments started to invest and exhaust resources for better results. Different results reap from WWI and WWII; capitalism or socialism failing in various periods. In conclusion, ideologies work due to market inefficiencies. It is said socialism works under a good dictatorship.

The speaker gave the example of Maoist and Vietnamese leaders. Ideologies are supposed to be seen without political agony, according to him. The end of colonialism was followed by the growth of India.

Pre-independent India was investing with lower resources and infrastructure. Ms. Indra Gandhi was fighting for political survival and growing control of the government. Overproduction was curbed, substandard goods were produced at higher prices. Since 1991 India’s growth has been stable post bank standards and barrier removers. The country still sees stable growth.

Following this, remarks were shared by Prof Vibhuti ma’am. She said how in such a short time, the speaker had covered a broad converse of geo-politics during the colonial times along with the post war periods.

The lecture also showed how we went from a unipolar to a bipolar world along with the collapse of the USSR and India’s trajectory of economic models. We will be further talking about the effects of India adopting neo-liberal economics. Moreover, policies of liberalisation , privatisation and globalisation will be talked about alongside their impact since the past 30 years.

Sir added, the process has been slow and inevitable. There has been steady growth and our living standards and consumption has gone up. As a young IAS officer, he said he could see poverty in Madhya Pradesh and Chattisgarh to which things have now improved massively. The country has seen growth and some credit goes to the governments, even though there have been issues like corruption etc. 

Moreover, the telecom revolution is something the speaker wanted to flag because it has helped empower the Indians. Pitching corruption here, many leaders like Rajeev Gandhi wished to highlight the same but the prime mover was Banditzhukra. He is famous for being corrupt and going to jail, but he facilitated progress. Another great leader was Mr. Raja.

He kept the prices of cells marginally low. All in all, even though these leaders deserved the criticism they went through, they added to the telecom sector in heaps. We thus see faster growth with internet connectivities and upcoming 5G.

2nd Driver: Corruption or Rent-seeking

Corruption exists everywhere. A politician that is not corrupt is supposed to collect money and utilise it for the party instead. Different countries have different patterns. One can be corrupt and correct for their party, but if the amount is very high then the coordinating agency is expected to get it straight. The Gujarat model was discussed relating to its scrutiny and circumstantial results. Even though the pattern of corruption has changed, it still exists. Whether it’s the Indian or foreign governments it is there in its own forms.

The concept of freebies and subsidies are bad for us. Earlier we saw public participation in growth and development, but now we are just lax. It has obviously led to more corruption. We have become dependent on the government which is surely an adverse effect.

This was followed by a question-answer session, where the floor was open for questions from the audience and were answered by the speaker.

The major concepts touched were, public v/s merit goods, geo-political state of India and alternative to freebies, healthcare and sustainability in India, LGBTQIA+ representation and China being vetoed. Post the discussion, a vote of thanks was made to sir, followed by remarks of Prof Vibhuti ma’am who said how the lecture had a sense of history, focussed on geo-political state and diff contours of India and its development. New challenges, such as freebies v/s subsidies were also discussed. She appreciated the speaker and how holistic his lecture was.

Interactive Session I

This was followed by the Interactive Session by Adv Dr Shalu Nigam, Visiting Senior Fellow IMPRI; Advocate, Author, and Researcher, Gender and Human Rights.

The discussion was on custodial torture. The Issue of custodial Top Church was brought up.

Referring to the Amensty International website, 26 June is marked as ending torture. Furthermore, surveys were talked about which explained how torture is unjustified and laws all around the world need amendments.

Many legal aspects were discussed when it comes to police, administration, bureaucracy etc. Also, response towards violence and torture was discussed, how we receive different kinds of responses from different stratas of the society. Variety is seen when we compare torture instances of the poor, mid and rich.

She shared an article on the same and also told how India is not covered under the same. The rules and regulations for the same are weakest in India. She also highlighted the George Floyd issue of the US. Various laws were also talked about which focus on the aforesaid which are going through revisions as time progresses. Violence by states in the country were highlighted, from Jammu and Kashmir, Chattisgarh, Delhi and Manipur.

Moreover, the Kasganj case was also put light on. Data shows an increase in custodial deaths from the past period. There was also a talk about the lack of ability of the police hired. Countries like Finland and Norway show better training and learning. The International Convention against torture also shows India at a rank of 161 which is quite poor. In conclusion, more work is needed when it comes to decision making in judgements and also ensure a stronger cover per say the police. 

The floor was opened for questions and answers. Post the same, closing remarks were given by Prof Vibhuti ma’am wherein she said that even though these issues are faced in our country, we need to give due credit to the complexities of India’s society, bureaucracy and democratic system. It is important to have dialogue and make the administrators aware.

Vote of thanks was proposed thanking the speaker Shri Bhartendra Singh Baswan, chair Prof Vibhuti ma’am, Adv Dr Shalu Nigam and various participants for an enhancing session.

Harshaa is a research intern at IMPRI.

Youtube Video of Inaugural session for Law and Public Policy Youth Fellowship Programme: https://youtu.be/fT0XLKGJ6LY

Read more session reports for Law and Public Policy Youth Fellowship:

Policy Initiatives and Role of Indian Judiciary

Laws, Public Policy and Media