Wednesday, 21 November 2018

Indianising Policy Studies

I reviewed the book National Policy Studies in the Light of Ekatma Manav Darshan, Edited by Ravindra Mahajan, for Organiser.
You can read a version of the review below:

Policy Studies is a new emerging academic field in India which helps to understand the issues of governance and public policy planning. Ravindra Mahajan and his team have come up with a compilation of its own kind through this book on policy studies in the light of Integral Humanism (Ekatma Manav Darshan). This work is a result of gigantic academic exercise which  was taken up over a long period time where such policies that affect Indian state and its society were discussed.
Many organisations and individuals of Maharashtra have worked on this for long. The Editor clearly states that this is the first document on public policy and would be followed up with a deeper study on public policy planning of India in future.

The title of the book itself explains that the book aims to undertake an understanding of public policy studies in the light of Integral Humanism (Ekatma Manav Darshan). While there have been efforts in the past to understand politics in the light of Integral Humanism, yet no one has come out with such study on policy till date.
Integral Humanism is an ideology propounded by a RSS Pracharak, great thinker and one of the founding members of Bharatiya Jan Sangh Pt. Deendayal Upadhyaya, who had dwelt on the idea of Integral Humanism while giving his discourses in Mumbai. Integral Humanism was accepted as core idea by the BJS first and later by the BJP.
Integral Humanism tries to decipher different related issues with an Indo-centric approach. It is rooted in the concept that ideas for mind and values for soul are as much important as food for stomach. While the two dominating ideologies of the Western world in last 100 years —Capitalism and Communism— keep the individual and his material needs at the core of its thinking, Integral Humanism on the other hand makes welfare of every living being its core.          
Any thought process gets enriched only when it is propagated, discussed and expounded by intellectuals and academics in given space and time. Efforts to this effect have been put to prepare this document which has come out in the form of a book by Centre for Integral Studies and Research, Pune.
The Editor of the book has accepted that this is not a detailed policy document but only salient points and a comprehensive document is yet to come. However there is no doubt that this is a noble beginning. Inspite of this being a starting step, one can safely say that no documentation of such comprehensive nature has been done in the light of Deendayal Upadhyaya’s ideology in the academic field in last few years. Next step should be in the form of separate comprehensive volumes on each policy issue with proper proof reading, referencing and bibliography which would give the work more academic worth.
This book contains seventeen chapters discussing different policy issues. The Editor has tried to elaborate on two dominant ideologies—Communism and Capitalism—that influenced human race most in last 100 years and the idea of the State before going into the main part of the content. However, it is clear that the views of the writer and readers could differ on these two ideologies. In the later chapters policy issues like governance, education, economy, industry, service sector, science and technology, land acquisition, cooperatives, labour, security and foreign policy, etc are discussed in the light of Integral Humanism.
Two broad policy issues which did not find place in this document are issues of youth and social justice. Caste system and social justice discourse need to be seen as part of policy studies. It has been witnessed time and again that last man standing in the row belongs to the caste that falls lowest in the caste hierarchy i.e. Dalit. It has also been studied as a part of the public policy analysis that 70 per cent of the total population of the country is youth and can be used as a major resource. We could positively hope that these two issues would be discussed in the next detailed volumes.  
In our country, different policies were practiced and propounded by different rulers and thinkers. In this book many of those ideas have been given space and consideration viz. security policy of Shivaji Maharaj, Spying policy of Chanakya and different issues discussed in our shastras.   
This book is written with an emotional touch. It is also a matter of study that how much we should allow our emotions to guide us while working on a policy issue. However, we shall not forget that emotion is the also the best calculation.
This compilation edited by Ravindra Mahajan has been published in the light of this unique ideology. This book would not only be beneficial for academics but would also help activists engaged in the significant task of national reconstruction and people influencing policy making from outside and inside the government. This book will also help those groups and individuals which are associated with gigantic task of developing models of alternative development.  As it is said in this book that this is ‘beginning of the beginning’, we will see deeper study by the same academic group in near future till then this book is worth a read.

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