CHENNAI: Declaring that the most glaring weakness in policy making was that a large part of it happened by accident and not by design, senior BJP leader and former Finance minister Yashwant Sinha said delays in bringing about policy changes need to be addressed, like in the case of insurance sector, where a decision on FDI has been dragging on for over a decade.
Delivering G Ramachandran memorial lecture, organised by South Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry here on Friday, Sinha said, in his experience, very little thinking on policy happened in Parliament. “There is hardly any thinking that goes into policy making in Parliament,” he lamented. “Your appointment book looks like a Chinese menu card. So where is the time to think? The GoI therefore does not think. Things happen, maybe by accident but not design,” he said.
However, things have changed but not by much, Sinha said. “Today policy making has become a lot more participatory than in the 60s and 70s. Now a large number of stakeholders like political parties, chambers of commerce, and media all make very important contributions to policy making. It is no longer the reserve of a few,” he pointed out.
“Think tanks play an important role in other countries and are used for longer term goals. But they do not play those kinds of roles here. They need to because the government only lives from moment to moment,” he said. To cite an example, he pointed to the reactions to reforms in the insurance sector. The bill that Chidambaram brought had to be withdrawn as due to opposition from Congress’ alliance partners. Then, the BJP introduced the bill, he said.