Sunday, February 12, 2012

Politician vs Technician: Food Security Bill

Public Policy Making is a special case within the collective action problem. The members of collective action in policy making are subject experts, politicians, bureaucrats, and voters. (At one stage judiciary enters this list of actors but primarily carries out the function of interpretation.) It is good to observe how different opinions by experts and views by different politicians are sorted out when a bill finally gets through.


vijay said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Darshit Shah said...

Governments worldwide have had a long history of making the reports of bureaucrats and committees "adapt" to their "needs". It is possible that the committee views the problem in isolation and misses out on the holistic picture. The govt. has the dual responsibility of considering the entire situation as well as pressure for populist policies. The ultimate outcome is generally the one where the bounty of benefits is largely shared by those in power and partly by those who bring them to power(voters).
Darshit Shah (32062)

Komal Makkad said...

It is interesting to call public policy making 'a special case of collective action' wherein people unite to fulfill their own vested interests. It starts with an aim to benefit the 'public' but ends in making the policy makers, Government and Bureaucrats 'the public' whose interests are served.
Since to remain in power is the driving force for the collective action, the bill has fair chances of being passed with many changes though!
Komal Makkad

Vineeth K N said...

Public policy making is a process of complex political struggle in which conflict is the central theme rather than consensus. The backing of a strong logic is not a sufficient criterion for a proposal to go through. Rather, the proposals that go through should necessarily be backed by power. In many cases the backing from a powerful lobby is sufficient to push a proposal through. The minimum wage issue associated with NREGA is a clear example for the fact that the backing of power is needed for a logical proposal to go through.
Vineeth K N(32049)

Rajendar Reddy said...

In democracy, politicians(majority) are motivated towards the larger base or self-interest, which help in achieving their outcome. Whereas the technicians believe in efficiency (sometimes, may be equity also) and effectiveness in accordance with their own objective and outcomes. A politician accepting a technician bill as it is depends on how far it serves his objectives and within the boundary. Acceptance of NREGA by NAC-I is an example where both the party’s objectives are met. NFSB by NAC-II creating constraints like budget, political (from state governments in coalition) etc… Sorting out between these two parties is not based anything, but power.

Rajendar Reddy

Avanita said...

Public Policy Making is a typical situation wherein the people in order to get their interests served elect the beauroacrats but eventually land up finding that the interests of the beaurocrats are being served instead. Its not only with the Food Security Bill but with many other bills as well that manipulations are done by the politicians to fulfill their incentives without giving a thought to the voters needs who elected them. The result is that the bill that comes out altogether shows a different picture than what it was intitially proposed for.

Arpit said...

I disagree with branding public policy making as collective action. A collective action fundamentally means equal rights and distribution of power among various stakeholders. In case of public policy making most of the decision making power is reserved for the politicians. The experts are only allowed to formulate the policy, its final structure often gets distorted by the politicians. Bureaucrats and voters are just opinion givers and are seldom listened to. Thus, to me public policy is more like a centralized, authoritative process rather than a collective action.

Arpit Bansal

Manas Mittal said...

There is lot of complexity in order to implement public policies on ground level.Each actor/stakeholder has got his own view of looking at a problem and finding out a solution.Ultimately the power structure defines whose views will be listened and whose views will be discarded.
Manas MIttal(P32020)

Priyanka said...
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Priyanka said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
mayank k said...

Public policy making is a complex process which has to go through many phases and pass different constrains before being implemented.While a technician wants a efficient bill to be passed while the politician wants the bill to be politically correct.This leads to clash of opinions as in case of food security bill but its the strength of collective action that these differences are sorted and the final bill is having concerns from both sides addressed.Food security bill is also going through these negotiation phase
Mayank kashyap.

Nilesh Sharma said...

I am not agreeing with the earlier comments that public policy serves politicians and bureaucrats. Public policy comes when one component of collective action (people) wants it. Government mostly takes decisions on public policy depending upon detailed reports. It is not possible to appease every section of society, hence different section society wants changes in policy. Like in food security bill NAC wants to implement it while food ministry and many economists are against it. Since government also want to get reelected, it is quite likely that popular policy (food bill) will get passed in parliament.
Nilesh Sharma(32080)

Rabindra Kumar said...

Public policy making is entirely different type of collective action due to diversity in group of participant. Every sub group of this collective action have their own core strength and they see the issue from that angle only for example economist may forget the social dimension of the issue while politician forget the financial viability. So to have best policy convergence of ideology is necessary. Since politician has final authority they might use it for their own purpose but if it have given due consideration to all then definitely the policy will be a good one.
Rabindra Kumar (p32085)

Jeevan Krishnakumar said...

A politician may want to protect his ideology or self interest while the bureaucrats may take a technically correct viewpoint on any Public policy. For a bill to finally get through, collective action in consensus making is required as leaders rely on a large group of bureaucrats to approve and implement public policies. Both parties in this case can exercise power as both can influence voters who theoretically are the highest source of power. NFSB is undergoing this stage of consensus making between the politician and technician and is clearly will face challenges at different levels till it gets through.

Jeevan Krishnakumar (32073)

Himanshu Pilania said...

In public policy making in India, successfully passing a bill is often a result of strong disagreements between the various groups both at the state and the centre. And the phenomena of political considerations intervening in decisions otherwise well taken are inevitable in genuinely democratic polity like India. Vigorous debate prior to policy making and adaption in response to the debate is a good process in the collective action problem. This debate is essential to prevent a poor policy making and implementation and is the case with the Food Security Bill.
Himanshu Pilania

Himanshu Bhardwaj said...

In this example of Public policy making in form of food security bill we can see that original recommendations by subject experts of the NAC were referred by the govt. to its expert committee which did the job of making the bill more conservative as required by the govt. The difference in views by experts and politicians on this bill shows that different agenda of different members in a collective action can lead to inefficiency in the implementation as well as working of that collective action as seen in this example of food security bill not getting through.
Himanshu Bhardwaj

Tanu Shree Shekhawat said...

Collective action problem is a situation which includes multiple individuals and a rational choice is made. Public policy involves reciprocal actions and reactions of individual and interest groups competing and collaborating to influence policy makers to act in a way with special focus on social policy and rights of disadvantaged groups. NAC gives policy and legislative inputs to govt. but the govt. takes things at its own discretion. As in the case of Food Security Bill, communists must provide ideological backing and support to the demand that food must be guaranteed as a universal right.
Tanu Shree Shekhawat

Tanu Shree Shekhawat said...
This comment has been removed by the author.

A collective action is performed basically to help the group involved in the action. Public policy making is also a collective action which is quite special in the sense that it is for the "public" but the collective action of having a consensus on any matter or a bill has got some implied vested interests by the policy makers. The problem gets exemplified because it is the politicians who are unaware of the ground realities and all these so called bills have nothing to do with them directly rather than a diplomatic tool to ensure their vote bank.
Prateek Parimal(32029)

empowered said...

In policy formulation, bringing politicians and bureaucrats on a common platform becomes difficult as the end goals of the former differ widely from the latter. While politicians go for policies that help them embolden their political aspirations, civil servants focus on the utility and sustainability of a proposal. Thus, actual policy formulation witnesses negotiations where politicians ensure the scheme enhances their support and does not upset their electorate, while the bureaucrats try to ensure that the scheme favours the state. Between the two, who will win depends on the power dynamics between the politicians and the bureaucrats.

- Swati Vashisth (32098)

aniket said...

Policy making is a game based on two players the bureaucrats and the politicians. The success of a policy depends on the way these key players coordinate, co-operate and act accordingly. Politicians may have their political agenda , academicians may have their own theories and calculation. In this case a collective has to evolve in order to bring the citizens in a win-win situation. Having a social viability and good benefits is not sufficient for a policy; it should also have a strong political will with it. Absence of any two makes a policy look good only on paper.
Aniket Mitra(32003)

Shipra Sharma said...

Policy making is a collective action wherein politicians and bureaucrats are its representative members. They are the transformer of the system and are supposed to submerge them within the system to identify the problems. However looking over the longer durations and whole lot of dramatic parliamentary procedures for a final clearance of a policy bill creates a big- big question mark over the critical consciousness of these members. Their words seemed to be deprived of either action or reflection and the empty word represent either a verbalism or activism.
Shipra Sharma

tijilthomas said...

The Indian state has two parties for power, politicians and bureaucrats. Bureaucrats will be strong in a politically unstable state and vice versa. When stakeholders are multiple and have almost equal negotiation power, which is present case, most of the time the central issue under discussion takes a back seat and eventually generates a suboptimal output which is counterproductive with regard to the motive it was started. Every stakeholder uses the issue to increase its mileage, the weak, the common man always gets oppressed and utilized.
Tijil Thomas-32045

Abhishek Misra said...

In my opinion, these differences of opinions and views are quite essential for the right decision to be taken as far as passing of the bill is concerned. When there is difference of opinions and arguments within the group then a lot of pros and cons regarding the bill come to the fore. After the whole debate is over, the final decision can be taken by voting as a well as advice by the National Advisory Council of the government. This form of collective action at the policy level is essential for the correct policy actions.

Abhishek Misra (32001)


Public policy-making in India has frequently been characterized by a failure to anticipate needs, impacts, or reactions which could have reasonably been foreseen, thus impeding economic development. The reason behind this is the clashing of interests between politicians, bureaucrats, experts etc. Therefore, the need of the hour is that these people collectively come together to reach to a consensus. Conflicts among them will lead to a collective action in future and serve the poorest of the poor by providing food security.
Khushboo Sinha(p32017)

Sameera Mushini said...

It is indeed curious, how a subject matter expert and a politician get along. It is all the more curious as to the where do we, the voters fit in....
Do our experts have institutional backing? Are our politicians intellectual enough? Is our bureaucracy flexible enough? Are we the voters rightly represented? - If yes, why do we have a (Jan) Lokpal as against (Govt) Lokpal... Only when these questions are adequately addressed, can we have effective collective action in policy making!

Sameera Mushini

varun said...

A public policy in essence may not be good for the economy as a whole though more often than not populist it can be. There is a vital link between the policy makers and policy beneficiaries. Public policy making in India involves NAC which represents civil society and is a dynamic process, often, with conflicting views and eventually bill that comes out is different from suggested one. Government backed by industrialist politicians seeks the bill to benefit from it and as well portray their love for people. Technicians have no option but to move along.

Priyanka said...

Both technicians(National advisory committee) and politicians always try to keep key stakeholders (Beneficiaries) and their welfare in the centre. This way both struggle to achieve greater inclusiveness, transparency and accountability. However due to following reasons ,deviation from original proposed bill is observed:
a) Technicians are not able to see the big picture of the model which could have interaction with various other factors, possibly in the minds of politicians, hence amendments are necessary.
b) Peripheral interest to get acute benefits for themselves dominates core objective of the bill, so outcome (food security law) will be different from the original bill.
Priyanka goel

Rajeev said...

The problem takes shape when there are too many leaders in the collective or the leader is corrupt or unrighteous. It’s a classical case of too many cooks spoiling a broth. Public policy making starts from the data collection and statistics at the first level but when it comes to the final delivery of the plan the data driven decision making approach is replaced by the populist approach. The whole reason to carve out the policy is forgotten by the different decision makers at the highest level just to ‘sort out’ their personal and party related gains.

Rajeev said...

The problem takes shape when there are too many leaders in the collective or the leader is corrupt or unrighteous. It’s a classical case of too many cooks spoiling a broth. Public policy making starts from the data collection and statistics at the first level but when it comes to the final delivery of the plan the data driven decision making approach is replaced by the populist approach. The whole reason to carve out the policy is forgotten by the different decision makers at the highest level just to ‘sort out’ their personal and party related gains.
Rajeev (32034)

Rohitash Jain said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
ANURAG said...

As some wise man has said "TECHNOLOGY is POLITICS"means only those technologies be discovered that has no harm to these politicians and many innovations are biting dust because they happened to be on the wrong side of politicians.This is the same phenomena followed in the policy making too.The vested interests of few , sometimes overpowers the interest of many and what comes out collectively as a bill/policy is a diluted version of anything and with poor implementation most of the times make it a worst scenario.

anurag srivastava

Rohitash Jain said...

Public policy making is a special type of collective actions in which a number of collective actions collude to each other. And only one collective action becomes winner. In the case of Food security bill some parties are supporting it to fulfil their vested interests where as others see this as no opportunity gain so they oppose it. Till date opposition type of collective action won as minimum amount of consensus is not there among political parties to pass the bill in parliament.
Rohitash 32088

kajal kumari said...

I would question the synergy of interest of the policy makers as a collective group and those who are affected bye these policies as another group with different interests in the same policy. There is no doubt that without strong political backing a bill cannot pass through because our executive system has been designed so. Good example is women reservation bill which was hanging in the house for 12 yrs and still not passed in lok sabha.
kajal kumari

Sarthak Mishra said...

In Public policy making, public is supposed to be the main beneficiary but this is not the case in India. The suggestions from technicians may overlook ground realities. Politicians are aware of the ground realities but they choose to satisfy their own interest. They lack will to make laws for the benefit of the public which do not satisfy their interest. For example – Lokpal Bill was first introduced in Parliament in 1968 but it yet to see the light of the day but bills introduced to increase the salary of MPs become laws very quickly.
Sarthak Mishra

Durga Satapathy said...

It is indeed quite strange how the difference in opinions of experts and politicians do get sorted out, while the bill is passed, But the differences in the opinions, only which brings out a solution accepted by all, whether the solution is for self gain of the party or for the public benefit. This collective action in-turn ensures the continuity of the decision makers.

Durga satapathy

Rahul said...

In real terms Public Policy making can be called collective action w.r.t experts, politicians and bureaucrats however the Public for whom this policy is made is excluded from the process. The experts use technicalities to define the food quota and beneficiaries, the bureaucrats draft it and politicians make it sound attractive. In order to make the collective action holistic we need to take into account the concerns of Public regarding implementation which includes effectiveness of PDS, process of identification of beneficiaries and corruption. Thus for the public policy making to be effective real participation of public is necessary.
Rahul (32032)

Gurpreet said...

Talking about the monsoon session of 2010, and comparing two bills proposed during that session, Women Reservation Bill and MP Salary hike Bill. The latter one was passed without any difference among the MP's rather they colluded so that they can get even more increment in salary. At the same time due to political obligations of some political parties, that consensus didn't establish for former bill. Collective Action can only be established when participants are getting benefit.

Sandesh N A said...

This problem is not specific to India, it’s prevalent worldwide. Before recession many expert warned US Government about its economic policies but it didn't heard and ended up in soup. Many experts give different opinions based on their point of view, whereas politicians has to take account of all the factors including their political agenda. While taking account of all the factors, people with influence force Government to take decision in a way which helps them most.
Sandesh N A

p32043 said...

Collective action problem is any failure of a group of individuals to achieve a desired outcome.In case of Food Security Bill the members of policy makers viz.the subject makers, politicians,bureaucrats,and voters have differences in their respective knowledge realm, understanding of the subject matter,self interest and benefits. These differences create a nexus between the members which makes it difficult for the policy benefits to reach the grass root level.Policy-making for Food Security therefore should involve trade-offs between the experts and the politicians i.e. the giving up of something to get something else, losses to one group or section in exchange for (hopefully larger) gains for another.
Tahira Sheikh

vijay said...

It can only be a spoilt fortune of Indian policy Making that most of the recommendations that National Advisory Committee(constituted by real experts of the concerned fields) suggests are not given a worth heed by most of the politicians and before it gets reformed into the final bill, a lot of amalgamation had already been done. These modifications are mostly favored only when the government gets benefited by it example being NREGS which was severely diluted before presentation leaving many good policies aside which the government had to accommodate later on account of severe criticism of the then current form.The same threat is feared to be for the National Food Security Bill(NFSB), original bill of which, has already been altered and even being very mild recommendations, its seemingly not digestable by Government.
vijay prakash gupta

sinhasoumya7 said...

Collective Action has for decades supplied the logic for Public Policy analysis. Shaping Public Policy is a complex and multifaceted process. It involves the interplay of numerous individuals and interest groups competing and collaborating to influence policymakers to act in a particular way. There will always be a lively marketplace of ideas in Public Policy. What’s required is the cooperation on part of the innumerable players for the execution of a Policy. Individuals act consistently with the interest of the groups to which they belong and for a Bill to become an Act, the interests of different groups must unite.

Anusha said...

As rightly pointed out in the article, many a policies and plans are framed in some manner, discussed in other manner, presented in other manner and implemented in completely different manner. The noticeable thing here is that all the participants of these activities have the authority or the ‘power’ which they can exercise as and when they wish as per their interests and benefits. The people concerned or those in the reception side of the policy have either no or very little say in these matters which show a typical collective problem of exercise of power without a unanimous consent.

Vikash said...

The making of public policy for a country as large and diverse as India is intrinsically a complex task. A policy made ostensibly for achieving a particular goal often has significant impacts and unforeseen repercussions for the stakeholders, which warrants the assistance of technicians who have the knowledge of and can give due consideration to the available subject-matter knowledge professionally. This may give rise to valid disagreements as to what is the "right" policy, in a given situation between the various stakeholders. Vigorous debate prior to policy-making, arrival at a consensus and adaptation in response to debate is in the interest of all the stakeholders in a democracy.


lipsa said...

The public policies hold the opinions of the subject experts, politicians, bureaucrats and the judiciary but it hardly depicts any collective action for the public. The varied points which are considered by the policy makers miss the needs of the general public. Often the ground realities are forgotten and the party politics dominates the objective of the policies. On the other side one can see this as an opportunity where specialists from the different backgrounds come together collectively, sort out the various problems and arrive at a consensus to frame a policy( eg of collective action by the experts).
Lipsa Mishra ( 32078 )

abhinav deep sinha said...

No government doles out goods for free. There must be some rationale or interest behind the food security bill as well. Why would the government push it if not so?

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