Two laws of policy realism

A cynic’s perspective on robust policy design

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.

3 thoughts on “Two laws of policy realism”

  1. The alternative to Implication #2 – if the policy goes against existing mindsets – it must be backed up with adequate enforcement, incentives for compliance and penalties for non-compliance, all aligned to a person’s self-interest.

  2. Classic. Like Cults & Parties, Niti-mandala, Bigotry (storify). Write a book.

Comments are closed.