POLICY FAILURE, Microeconomics


Policy failure refers to situations:  

i) When the objectives of public policy are attained partially or inadequately or in a distorted manner especially in relation to cost or desired outcomes; 

ii) Produce counter-productive outcomes;  

iii) Impose costs disproportionate to positive outcomes or in a manner contrary to the policy objectives;   

iv) When policy outcomes are associated with or generate heavy present and future negative externalities (i.e. originally unintended or unanticipated negative effects on society as a whole or certain sections of it); and  

v) Weaken the state's capacity to initiate course-correction measures and give rise to domestic or external forces inhibiting/blocking the pursuit of the original, inclusive social agenda effectively.  

These situations, whether appearing severally in isolation or jointly, may be termed policy failures. In so far as the state is the prime or may be even the sole agency for these policies (including their implementation), the  policy failures are an element, a large one at that, of state failure. It may possibly be suggested that it was unlikely that an inclusive, egalitarian agenda of development, as contrasted with a narrow, status-quost economic growth, was adopted in India as the initial given situation was marked by vast multi-dimensional inequalities, differentiations and stratifications (as noted in the First Five Year Plan). However, the Indian State was equipped with the legitimacy and authority of a democratic State as the prime, empowered agency for policy interventions and social change. It is worth wondering what are the conditions either for the adoption of such an agenda and further for its successful implementation. Moreover,  the availability of a set of policies establishing a one-to-one relationship between the objectives, actors/agencies, resources and policy instruments commanding a broad national consensus cannot easily be taken for granted. Even the availability of the required knowledge base and expertise may be problematic. Be it as it may, the uncomfortable fact remains that the experience of post-independence India is marked by very large and painful policy failures, giving credence to the hypothesis of state failure. This kind of judgment is reflected in calling the Indian experience so far as one of muddling through, or describing India as a functioning anarchy. Of course, it is not the case that every single policy failed. Far from so as many of our policies, like the one of introducing green revolution, was clearly a success. The  point simply is that the successes overall get overshadowed by failures. That this kind of state failure is essentially related to state character, state capacity and state-society relation-ship in a historical perspective is pretty obvious but is often lost right of.  

Posted Date: 11/10/2012 5:08:52 AM | Location : United States

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