Achilles’ heel of Indian public policy: Lack of information and limited institutions capacity

One wishes that several of India’s committee reports were analysed like this.

Prof Suryanarayana of IGIDR has a piece in recent EPW where he critiques a recent committee report on Food Corporation of India:

An inadequate information base and limited institutional capacity for policy formulation seem to be important factors constraining India’s public policy pursuits. A look at the major recommendations of the Report of the High Level Committee on Reorienting the Role and Restructuring of Food Corporation of India illustrates that this has not changed in more than six decades of independence. Though a good understanding of the issue is essential for any policy formulation to be effective, an evaluation shows that there are good reasons to be sceptical about the committee’s comprehension of issues, methods and interpretations.

It carries out a performance evaluation without any reference to the criteria used as standards in such an exercise. It examines price effectiveness with reference to the proportion of farmers benefi ting by selling foodgrains to the public procurement agency. It recommends revisions in the extent of the NFSA’s coverage without a comprehensive understan ding of the concept of food security, its measure and magnitude. It recommends policy options with little appreciation of the constraints binding poor households in their household budget decisions. In sum, policymaking has become an exercise in creative fiction.

Superb stuff.

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