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A Center Right think tank for India

Ok..after my last blog post on social entrepreneurship, I did some more research and wanted to post couple of ideas. However, pressures of my day job, and my habit of getting into too many discussions on the Net, meant I had to put off the social entrepreneurship blog posts for this week also.

I did not check the Offstumped site for a few days last week.And I had stopped visiting the Friends of BJP site as well.But this morning, I went to the Offstumped and FoBJP sites, and read the posts by Amit Malaviya and Rajesh Jain.These two gentlemen have come up with a Concept Note for setting up a Center Right Think Tank for India.

You can read part 1 of the Concept Note here. Read all four parts (till now) from that site.
Excerpt from Part 1:

India suffers from a lack of critical thinking on several key issues of national importance. The thinking that goes on happens within the confines of government - the civil service and the cabinet. There is almost a complete absence of groups outside the formal establishment who develop new policy ideas and actively engage with policy makers to see the ideas through.
It is this state of affairs that has prompted the idea of creating a Foundation which will work towards creating a better future for India.

Excerpt from Part 2:
The Foundation will be guided by the principles of liberal democracy, free enterprise (keeping in mind the interests of wider sections of society), social inclusion, robust defence policy and nationalism and will deliver India-oriented research.
The Foundation will analyse ongoing programmes and make suggestions for new policies that can be taken up by policy makers across party lines.

And I have put down my thoughts on the Concept Note as a comment on Part 4.
Here it is, reproduced in full.
Dear Amit and Rajesh,
This seems to be a promising initiative, and I wish all the very best to the proposed Foundation.
Questions and thoughts:

1.Where will the funding for the foundation come from?Assuming some kind of endowment/grant from interested high networth individuals, are we also considering small donations from individuals which could be tax exempt?

2.How would we measure the outcomes? Is it enough to become known as a centre right policy foundation, or will the foundation take on a catalyst role to have the suggested policy changes become part of the actual laws of the land/programs of the Govts at various levels (Union, state, local)?

3.There could be a danger of spreading the foundation resources too thin by focusing on a wide range of policy initiatives from the outset.And therefore, some sort of prioritization of immediate policy focus ought to be considered.The criteria for such prioritization and resource focus need to be defined.

4.Typically, in any think tank, there is a danger of too many academics running the show, using up the resources and coming up with ‘ideal’ solutions that may not work effectively.Also, the pernicious influence of ‘received education’ from Indian and Western universities especially related to ‘otherizing’ the Indian people (by Indians) need to be guarded against.I am not tarring all academics with the same brush, but expressing my hope that this foundation would be different and go for passion, skills, and knowledge of the individuals than just academic degrees and peer-reviewed articles.The Foundation needs to think and act like a startup !

5.Ex-bureaucrats are another ‘group’ that seem to infest a lot of think tanks. While the rich experience some of them bring to the table is quite useful, some times we need to jettison old lines of thinking, especially the habit of formulating centralized controls for any policy implementation.The Foundation has to have some bureaucratic expertise available to it in-house or in a consultative manner, but we need to ensure that in the name of experience, we don’t recycle old solutions to the problems.

6.Finally (at this point in time !), we need to define what we mean by ‘centre right’ - what we stand for in each of the core policy sectors, how the Foundation will develop and refine its stands on various policy issues, and how we align all the direct stakeholders of the Foundation to the core set of beliefs, values and vision.

Your thoughts and inputs are welcome here and on the FoBJP web site.


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