Think of this work as a 'pop' public policy book. Like all books of this genre, we let stories of Indian experiences take centre stage. That's because context is king in public policy. There are very few immutable, universal rules that apply across all countries. We believe that our discourse on government is anchored way too much on the stories and experiences of other countries.
The result is that public policy books end up discussing distant and unrelatable stories. For instance, you too would have come across a popular quote on WhatsApp. Attributed to Gustavo Petro, a former mayor of Bogota, the quote reads: 'A developed country is not a place where the poor have cars. It's where the rich use public transportation.' Reading about Bogota's transformation can give a misleading assessment that spending more on Bus Rapid Transit systems alone can bring about a similar change in India as well. However, what gets missed in transplanting such ideas unthinkingly is that context matters.
Bogota's public transport success is also about changing social attitudes, individual incentives, and guiding market behaviour. Many not-so-apparent, context-specific things need to fall in place to replicate successes from other policy environments. For this reason, this book is about Indian public policy centred on India's experiences.
Any individual is a part of three meta-institutions, each with its unique characteristics, follies, and strengths. Each chapter discusses a prevalent idea, story, or myth in the popular discourse on Indian governance.
We hope, dear reader, you will find something useful in this book, something that will contribute to your understanding of Indians governing themselves. And we also hope you have fun while reading it.