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Policy and research interface
National Food Security Bill, India
Presented by Devesh Roy, IFPRI
November 20, 2013
Policy process
• To understand and explain the policy process requires an understanding of
the relationships among a compl...
Coate and Morris (1996)
Timeline and actors in NFSB (possibly the biggest welfare
program in human history
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•

•

2009 national elect...
Timeline and actors in NFSB: continued
•
•

•

•

•
•
•

June 3, 2013: The Congress and allies -expected to thrash out a s...
Actors and nodes and research
• Pre or around NAC (bureaucrats, ex bureaucrats,
social activists, economists or ex economi...
Actors (some what in a pecking order)Decision phase
• Ruling party president (NAC)
• Ruling party (ministerial and cabinet...
Some background for policy process in India
• Issue of macroeconomists/macroeconomics
• Behind every program - a budget & ...
Blanchard- Google hits
• Paul Krugman- Nobel Laureate, NY times
blogger, veteran of top notch economics,
faculty at prime ...
Blurb on Indian policy research:
snooping
•

What researchers know about policy process and how they know it, is defined b...
Coming to NFSB- What are the issues
of agreement and disagreement
•
•
•
•

Hunger and malnutrition to a large extent –Agre...
Academic and policy take on so many
of the good things done in India
• experiments are not easy to implement
• they can’t ...
Policy research interface
• Inspiration for research and analysis in policy is mostly very
different from academic researc...
Relationship between research and
policy unpersuasive
• Policymakers fail to commission appropriate
research – special int...
Evolution of NFSB – Has research or
something else worked
• The bill trimmed down over time- from the NAC version.
• Some ...
Points in NFSB
• Some provisions in the bill could be based on considerable experience and
evidence.
• value and effective...
So in NFSB
• Something has been happening that in a
complex way interfaces with research
– Think of constituents of NFSB
–...
Take home for policy research
• Poor country - what it means for the budget core
concern- Its mostly fiscal
• Governance i...
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PPWNov13- Day 3- D.Roy- IFPRI

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Day 3: Devesh Roy, “Research influences in India’s Food Security Bill”

Workshop on Approaches and Methods for Policy Process Research, co-sponsored by the CGIAR Research Programs on Policies, Institutions and Markets (PIM) and Agriculture for Nutrition and Health (A4NH) at IFPRI-Washington DC, November 18-20, 2013.

Published in: Economy & Finance, Technology
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PPWNov13- Day 3- D.Roy- IFPRI

  1. 1. Policy and research interface National Food Security Bill, India Presented by Devesh Roy, IFPRI November 20, 2013
  2. 2. Policy process • To understand and explain the policy process requires an understanding of the relationships among a complex number of factors in dynamic systems with nested levels of interactions and uncertain inputs and outputs. In the policy process, government officials and people outside of government with different beliefs and interests interact, and their interactions are embedded in a community with its own history, geography, and formal and informal institutions. • Given people’s cognitive limitations : How can one make sense of a complex, often interactive phenomena and their effects on the public policy? • Broadly it is • (i) Agenda phase • (ii) Decision phase • (iii) Implementation phase
  3. 3. Coate and Morris (1996)
  4. 4. Timeline and actors in NFSB (possibly the biggest welfare program in human history • • • • • • • • • 2009 national election manifesto- Congress promise to enact a Right to Food law 2010- NAC gets onboard July 2011: Ministerial panel approves the draft food security law. Dec. 18, 2011: India’s Cabinet approves a draft of the food security law. Dec. 22, 2011: Draft food security law presented in the lower house of Parliament. Nov. 2012: A Parliamentary panel sends the draft of the law back to the food ministry to incorporate changes after consulting state governments. Mar. 19 2013: India’s Cabinet approves an amended draft of the food security law before introducing it in Parliament for a general debate. May 2, 2013: Government introduces amended food security bill in the lower house doing away with separate categories of beneficiaries in urban and rural areas. May 8, 2013: General debate on food security law ends without a vote as budget session concludes 2 days ahead of schedule due to protests by opposition on other issues
  5. 5. Timeline and actors in NFSB: continued • • • • • • • June 3, 2013: The Congress and allies -expected to thrash out a strategy for getting food bill into law at a meeting. But a Maoist attack in Chhattisgarh delayed it. June 4, 2013: The Cabinet defers talks on approving the food security law through an executive order- known as an ordinance, saying that the draft bill was not submitted by Food Minister on time. June 13, 2013: After Cabinet meeting – government decides to call special session of Parliament to vote on NFSB after assurances of support from opposition. – However, these plans never materialized. July 4, 2013: After passing up two opportunities, Cabinet approves the ordinance route. This temporary legislation was valid for six weeks from the start of the next session of Parliament, slated to begin Aug. 5. Aug. 5, 2013: As the monsoon session started, the bill is one of the key pieces of proposed legislation for debate. The BJP, main opposition party, said it would not oppose the bill, but would propose certain changes to the existing version. Aug. 26: In the fourth week of Parliament’s sitting, the bill was passed in the Lok Sabha with a simple majority.
  6. 6. Actors and nodes and research • Pre or around NAC (bureaucrats, ex bureaucrats, social activists, economists or ex economists, 1 business person, Agricultural Scientist – Several have resigned over time – Right to food campaign • The campaign believes that the primary responsibility for guaranteeing basic entitlements rests with the state --- a sustained focus on legislation and schemes such as the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA), the Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS), Mid-day Meals (MDM) scheme, and the Public Distribution System (PDS).
  7. 7. Actors (some what in a pecking order)Decision phase • Ruling party president (NAC) • Ruling party (ministerial and cabinet) • State government – Finance ministry and several other ministries • Opposition • President • And there is chance
  8. 8. Some background for policy process in India • Issue of macroeconomists/macroeconomics • Behind every program - a budget & govt. machinery backing it • Not every program likely to work as NFSB, MNREGA or under different government • Who does the research- government of India like others lexicographic preference for research i.e. in house, in country • It is lack of research capacity within government which necessitates dialogue. • government may commission research to make symbolic gestures towards seeking policy answers without any intention of enacting them. • Committee deluge • Pecking order in influence- elite capture
  9. 9. Blanchard- Google hits • Paul Krugman- Nobel Laureate, NY times blogger, veteran of top notch economics, faculty at prime destinations……..- 24 million hits • Ted Cruz- Describe him as you like it- 151 million hits
  10. 10. Blurb on Indian policy research: snooping • What researchers know about policy process and how they know it, is defined by how they interact with that process. • One can be inserted into the process to undertake specific research tasks, or be confined to critically viewing policy from a distance. • There is lot of tank but not much think • A few people in Western universities/research units are writing empirical papers with Indian data appearing in Western journals, but there are two recurring problems: – A lack of common sense on data, and – the choice of questions and research strategy driven by the needs of publication rather than a sense of the important questions and issues in India. • A suo moto committee does not have any sanctity in India. • We have our own indices- marginality mapping and backward districts of planning commission, food insecurity indices.
  11. 11. Coming to NFSB- What are the issues of agreement and disagreement • • • • Hunger and malnutrition to a large extent –Agreement Disagreement – methods Governance can trump everything Governance an issue but if Tamil Nadu and Chhattisgarh can do it – lets scale it up • Will the policy initiatives survive their effective life cycles • On NFSB search for papers – Many like on MNREGA will come but policymakers detest this post mortem.
  12. 12. Academic and policy take on so many of the good things done in India • experiments are not easy to implement • they can’t be used to address all types of policy, and • they tend to be too small to elicit the responses generated by large–scale reforms.
  13. 13. Policy research interface • Inspiration for research and analysis in policy is mostly very different from academic research • In policy concrete and actual issues are mostly at the basis of research projects • Compared to blue sky research driven by theoretical problems or by possibilities of new econometric techniques • Policy needs quick analysis – less time for in depth analysis – There are outlets possible EPW- If not generate this middle path outlet. • Schumpeter on economics of Keynes -What I admire most in these and other conceptual arrangements of his is their adequacy –they fit his purpose as a well tailored coat fits the customer’s body. A fruit knife is an excellent instrument for peeling a pear. He who uses it in order to attack a steak has only himself to blame for unsatisfactory results
  14. 14. Relationship between research and policy unpersuasive • Policymakers fail to commission appropriate research – special interest – think of delaying a measurement of inflation measurement based on consumer prices • Ignore or subvert the results • Researchers pursue their own research interests – Head for a policy dialogue • On NFSB researchers have so little to show – winner takes all – activists?
  15. 15. Evolution of NFSB – Has research or something else worked • The bill trimmed down over time- from the NAC version. • Some early provisions quietly dropped, one by one, first by the council itself and later by the government: – social security pensions, special entitlements for vulnerable groups, community kitchens and strong accountability measures, among others. • As central government pruned and diluted NAC proposals, Chhattisgarh, ruled by BJP built on them and prepared its own Food Security Act, in December 2012. • Chhattisgarh’s much stronger legislation in place and • a recent survey by IIT Delhi suggests that food-related programs in Chhattisgarh are quite effective. • Think of states as action points in India – Comparatively manageable size – Jurisdictions more well defined
  16. 16. Points in NFSB • Some provisions in the bill could be based on considerable experience and evidence. • value and effectiveness of India’s school meal program-well studied. The program, inspired by Tamil Nadu’s initiatives, covers > 100 million children and has steadily improved over time. • In several states, school-meal menu now includes eggs, a very valuable source of animal protein and other nutrients. In Tamil Nadu, schoolchildren get an egg every day – not trivial where millions of children rarely get a chance to eat an egg. • Think about subtle pressure accumulated by nutritionists • Chhattisgarh good example of getting the incentives right – There has to be some economists somewhere – it includes pulses and iodized salt. • Government following the ordinance route pre commits to no debate and intellectual disagreement on the bill. • Yet did research on the constituents add to the whole?
  17. 17. So in NFSB • Something has been happening that in a complex way interfaces with research – Think of constituents of NFSB – From the inceptions to modifications can think of mapping out research that built up the case – There are free entry and do not enter zonesidentify them • Always beware of the larger impacts – Day after NFSB passed the rupee slid further
  18. 18. Take home for policy research • Poor country - what it means for the budget core concern- Its mostly fiscal • Governance is a concern – cannot and should not be paternalistic – suggest something only with solution • Usability of research rightly questioned • Lack of timeliness of research adequately felt • Suo moto research is not kosher in India • Think of middle path outlets • Let common sense prevail- Some Bengalis do not eat fish not because they lack information on nutrition value- simply they cannot afford it • Fly by night operators are not welcome anywhere – not in India either

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