“Discussion and debate were there even in Kautilya's time”

Public policies in India are being conditioned by vested interests, particularly by the political bosses, regretted former Union Secretary E.A.S. Sarma here on Monday.

“People's participation in policy making is not there and they are not consulted. The failure of policies is also due to the apathy of the middle class. Policies must be attuned to public interest and the professionals and civil society have a role to play (in making the policies beneficial to the people)”, said Dr. Sarma while speaking on “public policy making in India” at a meeting organised by the Centre for Policy Studies. He noted that discussion and debate in making a policy and arriving at a rationale solution were there since Kautilya's time. People were the best judges and their views must be respected.

He referred to the ongoing tussle in Karnataka and the case of NTR introducing total prohibition when he was the Chief Minister but the excise policy was gradually diluted and mutilated.

The former Union Secretary said the US was encouraging its MNCs to corner all strategic minerals in the world and after this appeared in an article in the Wall Street Journal, he wrote to the Prime Minister and the Minister concerned to form a vision group to modulate role of exploitation of minerals in India. Bauxite, being proposed to be mined in Visakhapatnam district, would fetch Rs. 65 crores a year to the State Government but the MNCs would reap a profit of Rs. 3,500 crores. The iron ore from Bayyaram mines would cost Rs. 580 a tonne but the private company given the lease would get between Rs. 6,000 to Rs. 10,000 a tonne.

Official failure

Director of Centre for Policy Studies and former Rector of Andhra University A. Prasanna Kumar reviewed a book, “Policy Making India, Who Speaks? Who Listens?” written by Kuldeep Mathur and James Warner Bjorkman. The authors felt that the Indian universities and professors had failed to contribute to the policies and the bureaucracy and civil servants had failed and were colluding with the politicians. The IAS lobby was strong but the officials instead of advising the government were joining the MNCs and providing them advice.

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