July 18, 2013cynicismIndiaPublic Policysocial capitalsocial trust

Two laws of policy realism

A cynic’s perspective on robust policy design

This is an archived blog post from The Acorn.

The first law of policy realism

A policy that relies on the Indian citizen to act in selfless public interest will not work. In fact, a policy that expects an Indian citizen to act in anything but self-interest and relative gain will not work.

The second law of policy realism

A policy that expects Indian citizens to adhere to a process—any process—will not work as intended, because people will ignore, work around or actively undermine the process.

Implications of the above:

  1. Policies must be designed to appeal to self-interest and maximise relative gains (in other words, the citizen must feel s/he will get more out of it compared to others).

  2. Policy design must incorporate processes that are consistent with people’s mindsets and are resistant to being undermined.

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