Think Tanks in India: Public Policy and Challenges

Source: IPF      Date: 30 Sep 2013 16:52:23




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India Policy foundation and Birla Institute of Management and Technology jointly organised a brainstorming session on the “Think Tanks in India” on September 28 in Bhubaneshwar. Speaking on the occasion Mr D N Padhi said that, in India policy making start after elections and seed of this is in manifesto of the parties. The most important think tank is Planning Commission although more often its suggestions are not accepted. Other organisations like CII and FICCI also give inputs to the government but the role is not that much clear. In India think tanks are more often treated as ecnroachment in policy making. He emphasised Think Tanks should play a proactive role in policy making and not a reactive one.
Speaking on the occasion Mr D K Ray said that Think Tanks must critically assess people’s aspiration and articulate these in form of policy or programmes that will lead to development. They are repository of professional expertise, provide research based inputs to various agencies that influence or make policy in some or the other form. Think Tanks would be effective if they are specific in nature and grow only with expertise and not with scope of work and have credibility in terms of policy prescription.
According to Mr. Beuaria Think Tanks should interact with Public opinion makers like media, social leaders, legislators and researchers to provide inputs to the process of policy formulation or give an alternative to the policy. Mr. Rakesh Sinha (Hony. Director IPF) said that various agencies have impacted policy formulation in the past but organised role of Think Tanks in policy making has not been seen in India. He added personification of Think Tanks lead to deterioration in quality and credibility may get diminished. Think Tanks must try to direct public opinion towards the betterment of the society.

Mr. Ambika Nanda focused on the research being done by Think Tanks. They must work in field and have first hand experiences of ground reality.Working in the field gives the real scenario for policy making as it is finally meant for those people only.Omkar Mohanty said quality of education needs to be upgraded and university system need to pay more attention on training for research and pursuing research for policy making.
Mr. Jagadananda said Think Tanks need to have meaningful conversation with all the stakeholders. Government usually connects with large organisations which present themselves as Think Tanks but these large institutions do not have field experience leading to biasness in policy making. Mr. Raj Kishore Panda said that Think Tanks must also pursue region specific issues.
Mr.Prabhat said that, in formulating tribal policies one of the major hindrance that government encounters is low level of education in tribal areas. The open document period does not receive inputs as it is not known to people and thus inputs from people don’t reach to the government leading to a disconnect between policy and people for whom these policies are being made. Here Think Tanks can play a great role in collecting those inputs and giving it to the governmnet. Prof. Mohapatra said, Think Tanks in developing democracy like India have multiplicity of problem. The organised Think Tanks play a very crucial role in identification, Initiation, creation, dissemination and supervision of public policy. Think Tanks need to look on some serious social and economic issues. According to him lack of human resources is main reason for sub-optimal functioning of Think Tanks. According Pattnaik criticism of functionary is not the role of Think Tanks.
According to Prof. Kapil Kapoor, Think Tanks seem to assume that the structure is to be respected and research or opinion has to be generated within the framework. This leads to restricted thought process. Most of the societal problems need creative thinking that is not being supported by our Think Tanks.


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