Introduction to Public Policy

“Public Policy is whatever government choose to do or not do”

Thomas R. Dye (Political Scientist)

I got this interesting opportunity to listen to the lectures of Dr. Rakesh Chakravarti and Kaushiki Sanyal (Authors of this book) during the Policy Boot Camp 2017 where this book was part of our reading materials. This book is quite short and interesting as it talks about the origin and processes of policy making in a few pages. Every public policy enthusiast read this book before venturing into the complex field of public policy.

In these few pages, this book answered all intrigued questions related to public policy. For instance: What is public policy? What is the origin of public policy? How can we contribute to policy making? What are the institutions which provide degrees in this area? What are the stages of policymaking exercises? When did public policy as a discipline become popular in India? It touches almost most of the aspects of the policy making and encourages us to read more about the issues in the domain of public policy. And this book is quite significant for Indian policy students as it has been written in the context of current issues dominating in the social space of the country. It talks about the nirbhya rape case as well as public transport revolution created by Delhi metro.

The authors have tried to trace the history of public policymaking starting from Harold Lasswell‘s basic definition of public policy as ‘who gets what,when and how as the starting point for this existence. They also discussed in detail the transformation of Bihar in the leadership of Nitish Kumar emphasizing that a great leadership can bring about substantial changes in a short span of time.

They also discussed the challenges of policy implementation and evaluation. The ideas of Randomised Control Trial(RCT) and the difference in difference principle as methods for effective implementation of public policies were also explored in the book.

They tried to tell the policymakers of the country not to be dogmatic so that they can adopt various perspectives from around the world in the policymaking process. In the last pages of the book, the authors also attempted to provide different solutions to overcome various challenges to policy making, implementation, and evaluation. They also tell you, How to broad-base policy-making, how to increase legislative capability, and how to evaluate policies in a better manner so that we can develop better policies.

I would recommend this book to all current and future policy makers so that they can understand the nitty-gritty of Public Policy in a few pages.

Negotiation workshop on Mouse Case Study:

During this lecture, we were also told to solve this case study Mouse(http://www.depa.univ-paris8.fr/IMG/pdf/Disney_Case_Study.pdf)

In this case study, there was a group where we have to play different roles like someone was playing a representative of the private sector, another three people were playing the role of local government and another was a representative of the government. So, it was a great learning experience and realization towards the complexity of public policy making, implementation, and its challenges:

  1.  The first time in my life, I realized how difficult it is to bring about consensus on any issues. It is very difficult to satisfy the aspirations of the people in a group.
  2. I was acting as a representative of the government and I had to mediate between private sector representatives and local government representatives.
  3. When the discussions were going on, suddenly one of the local representatives went outside the room saying that he didn’t agree with the proposals. This showed the kind of emotions someone goes through when it comes to your self-interest.
  4. At last, we somehow reached a deal but I think that I, as a government representative, gave more concessions than it was required.

I don’t know if I acted in a good sense or not? Even so, it was quite insightful and an eye-opening exercise that provided an interesting experience of nuances of policymaking. Convincing and negotiating with others when their self-interest is involved is a very difficult issue. We keep on criticizing our leaders, bureaucrats, policymakers, teachers, etc, but we never put ourselves into their shoes to understand their constraints and challenges.

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