Policy Kinks

Its a rather revealing exercise to be involved in policy formulation in a different country. I’ve learnt for example that a lot of policy ‘advocacy’ we take for granted in terms of methods in India work entirely differently in America.

Sample the fact that writing for a policy journal here means that you are essentially reporting to the converted. All jargon and theory has to be eschewed in favour of facts that stand on their own and speak fairly loudly towards a policy prescription on their own. This approach has its merits, for example, it makes the not so obvious seem rather obvious.

The trouble is that one has to learn not to make connections and leading arguments in ones writing. For example; the connection between property rights, eminent domain, privatization and a law that seeks to expand federal control of public utilities cannot be communicated together.

The local context also matters a whole lot more.  You make connections as a policy advocate between only those things that members of the public perceive as connected. I call this the “soft incremental policy push” phenomenon. Certainly, while it is tougher to take a stand — it also makes policy perceptions more fungible and palatable in smaller even-sized chunks.