Public policy is an instrument of governance that outlines broad principles and guidelines for the functioning of a government. With a view to promote socio-economic development and the larger nation-building, it influences the designing of processes, rules, laws and regulations, addressing administrative and systemic issues. It is public policy which brings politics and administration together in order to work towards the welfare of the citizens of a country. At the same time, public policy should be in tune with the changes in the needs of the society over a period of time.
When we look at the developments during last 5 years on public policy front, Modi government has infused dynamism in the policy formulation and implementation with a participative approach – a sharp contrast to the UPA’s “policy paralysis.”
For instance, the last National Health Policy was formulated in 2002 by Vajpayee government. However, UPA government in its 10 years was apathetic towards health of people by not incorporating the socio-economic and epidemiological changes in society in policy. It kept trying to solve the health challenges with their ‘vintage tools.’ However, when Modi government released the National Health Policy (NHP) in 2017 after a gap of 15 years, it had accounted for the changes that had occurred in the interim period. Towards this end, NHP, 2017 includes assurance-based approach, addresses micro-nutrient deficiency, while involving application of digital health and local manufacturing of medical devices under Make-in-India. Ayushman Bharat is one of the outcomes of the NHP, 2017 expected to benefit over 50 crore people.
First time since independence, Integrated Civil Aviation Policy, 2016 was notified by the Modi government. One of its aims was “to take flying to masses” which has been realised through the UDAN scheme. Given this policy realisation, for the first time more Indians travelled in aeroplanes than AC trains. Improved ease of cargo handling along with ease of travel for middle class is the policy outcome in this case. Notably, under Modi government, number of operational airports went up from 65 to 100.
Although nearly 65% of the population is dependent on agriculture, policy of UPA towards farmers was broadly of giving patronage rather than making them self-reliant. For improving the income of the farmers, treatment of agriculture as a business with export potential was the need of the hour. There had been no explicit agriculture export policy in place. For harnessing the export potential of agriculture and to double farmers’ income, Modi government formulated Agriculture Export Policy, 2018 for the first time to fill that policy vacuum.
Skills and Entrepreneurship
Further, it is the Modi government which approved India’s first integrated National Policy for Skill Development and Entrepreneurship 2015, replacing the National Policy on Skill Development of 2009. The UPA era policy could not give enough thrust to the skilling, innovation and entrepreneurship. Schemes such as Skill India, Stand up India, MUDRA scheme, among others, have been put in place by the Modi government to realise the goals of this 2015 policy.
Intellectual Property Rights (IPR)
Moreover, it is the Modi government which came up with India’s first National Intellectual Property Rights Policy, 2016 recognising abundance of creative and innovative energies in the country. Under this, it seeks commercialization of IPRs, development of human capital, working out legal and administrative framework with an endeavour for “Creative India, Innovative India” with emphasis on healthcare, food security and environment protection. The policy shows the vision of the PM Modi for 21st century New India. Indeed, compared to 2013, the number of patents has grown more than thrice under Modi regime.
Similarly, there are many other such policies including National Policy on Electronics, National Digital Communications Policy, National Policy on Software Products, National Mineral Policy, National Policy on Biofuels with a view to take India towards a $5 trillion economy by 2025.
Moreover, the swift scrapping of more than 1500 outdated laws by the Modi government shows the sincere its effort to facilitate ease of doing business as well as improve ease of living for the common man. This is in contrast to the scrapping of just 1,301 obsolete laws since independence!
Thus, rapidly overhauling a public policy regime in conformance with the present realities of India represents efficient and speedy governance. So, by initiating a wholesale new approach to public policy, the Modi government has truly taken governance to a new level never seen before – almost a blueprint for a developed India.