Jaipur, Jan 15 (IANS) Can a government do anything right? This was the topic of discussion by Professor Alasdair Roberts, Director at the School of Public Policy and Department of Political Science, University of Massachusetts, Amherst (UMass Amherst) during an engaging session organised at the JK Lakshmipat University (JKLU) on Tuesday.
The session was based on his 2018 book ‘Can a government do anything right?’ and touched upon critical aspects of public policy while addressing concerns about the failures of governments in the United States and India.
A visiting faculty at the JK Lakshmipat University, the professor talked about the challenges facing India’s public policy, raised questions on dealing with rapid urbanisation, roadblocks in creating liveable infrastructure, industrialisation and skill development to address employability issues and preparing the people for economic transformation.
He emphasised the need for maintaining transparency and ensuring people have access to policies in a timely manner in a format that they understand.
Drawing a parallel between India and the United States, Prof. Roberts said India and the US are going through moments of ‘strategic shift’, when old ideas about how to govern are challenged and replaced.
Both the countries have problems in common, he said, as they are super-states — countries with very large and diverse populations and territory.
“The challenge is to find ways to maintain national unity while respecting diversity and human rights, and preserving the flexibility to respond to new threats in a timely way.
“We see many common challenges and there is potential to learn from each other,” he said.
The big challenge in this century will be to show that democracy is a good and an effective way of governing “because we have, for example, an alternate model like in China, where an authoritarian system thinks it has the right way to govern”.
The big challenge in the coming days would be to decide “Who is right?” — is it the democratic model or the authoritarian model.”
The session discussed the role, impact and challenges of public policy in India and steps that could be taken to create a conducive environment and address issues such as employment and slow economic growth witnessed in the country.
During the session, Prof Roberts talked about the importance of public policy to build societies that are “prosperous, inclusive, where personal security is preserved, where human rights are ensured and people have access to basic services such as good education, healthcare, economic security, clean water, and clean air — a society which is a good place to live”.
Prof. Asheesh Gupta, Pro Vice Chancellor, JK Lakshmipat University, said, “Engagements like the one today gives students first-hand experience and the opportunity to interact with renowned faculties from around the world. We are trying to bring about a transformation in the way we deliver quality education to our students”.