Ipolicy for Young Leaders
Bikalpa an Alternative, Centre for Civil Society and Language of Liberty Jointly organized 3-day exclusive certificate course in Public Policy from 7-9 October, 2018 in Biratnagar at Hotel Namaskar in support with Atlas Network, Network For Free Society & Samriddhi Foundation. ipolicy 3-day introductory course in Public Policy is designed to understand about the public policy and also to Learn, enhance analytical reasoning and critical thinking through debates, case studies and working groups. The course involves a variety of interactive learning methods including dynamic games, talks, dialogues, and documentaries, designed to provide participants with opportunities to explore and share ideas about policy-based solutions to social problems from a liberal perspective. It also helps in equipping the participants with fundamental concepts of political economy and sound public policy to enable them to understand the root cause of current challenges and effectively advocate for policy solutions through their current work and future professions.
The main Goals of ipolicy are
- To create a fun, open, and respectful environment where everyone is encouraged to think critically about social, economic, and political issues.
- To evoke in participants a passionate inquiry into their own values and role in creating a good society.
- To equip participants with fundamental concepts of political economy and sound public policy to enable them understand the root cause of current challenges and effectively advocate for policy solutions through their current work and future professions.
- To plug participants into a global network of opportunities to propel their intellectual growth, make personal connections and access resources to help them advance their vision of a free society.
The application for the program course was open to all college students and young professionals through Bikalpa’s website. This batch for the participants were covered from 5 cities in which there were 10 females and 14 males. The participants were selected on the basis of their answers to the questions given in the online registration form on the website. Participants from outside the city were required to cover their travelling and accommodation costs by themselves.
We had 24 enthusiastic participants from diverse backgrounds come together, spend three days together and deliberated over intense lectures, working groups and activities. Some of the sessions included were on Social change and Public policy, Rule of Law, Institutions, Public Choice: The Benefits and Costs of Collective Action, The History of Property Rights, Property and Prosperity, The Unintended Consequences of Price Controls, Profit, Loss & Discovery, A framework for Public Policy. Speakers for the workshop represented from think tank organizations. Main speakers of the program were Prashant Narang and Abhinav Singh from Center for Civil society, and Barun Mitra Founder and director from Liberty Institute
Summary of the Session
As an organizer of the event Mr. Basanta Adhikari gave the key note speech and welcomed the participants and the facilitator. He also shared the objectives of the program and handed over the Abhinav Singh.
First session was by Prashant Narang, he conducted sessions on Social change and Public Policy and explained about the Rule of Law using engaging clips from Bollywood movies and stories that captivated the students throughout the session. Mr. Narang began by asking the participants about any social and economic problem they had witnessed here in Nepal. He also provided insights into Public policy, the parties affected by the policies and the 3 organs responsible for framing policies.
For any social problem, there are two action; direct and Policy action. Direct action requires continuous mobilization whereas policy action is a permanent solution for the problem. It is also important to identify the stake holders before framing any policies and identify those who are benefited by such policies. He also talked about the critical differences between law and policies. Implementation is a part of the design of the law. If the law is unable to be implemented than that means there is a problem with the law and not with the implementation. The session was very interactive and fruitful. The participants also put forward a lot of questions.
The sessions moderated by Mr. Abhinav Singh included Institution, consequences of price control, profit loss and discovery and cost and benefit of collective action. In the first session he took, he focused on entrepreneurship and how they help in creating effective institutions. He stressed that everybody is an entrepreneur with great value and are capable of making profits and become rich. He explained this with the help of the invisible hand theory and a strong sense for private property. He illustrated the phenomena through an activity and demonstrated how decentralization of power can help in solving problems in a better way.
He also took a session on price control wherein he stressed that even if the government fixed a price for the suppliers to sell, the suppliers will be unable to supply it into the market because the prices are determined by the market. Only a few people would benefit from such price controls. He linked minimum wages to price control since minimum wages would artificially raise the price of labor which would also increase the price of the product and make the economy inefficient. Since someone decides the time of engagement, it ruins everyone’s freedom.
He also talked about profit and loss discovery wherein he described profit as value creation and loss as value destruction, also cautioning that profit was never going to be permanent. And this allows innovators to bring in new innovations. This is how a robust economy works and economic problems will keep on turning profits into loss, and innovation would create newer avenues for profit.
The session became engaging when Mr. Abhinav demonstrated these key concepts in the form of a game that required the participants to simulate a trading exercise which demonstrated the how in a free market, the market trends determined profit and loss while regulation did not play any role at all.
The last session was on Public Choice. He mentioned that public choice gave a more realistic view of people’s motivation. The three dialects of public choice, namely Interest, Incentives and Intervention were also discussed. Individual’s exhibit different behavior in the political and the economic market. A business player would always try to maximize money, power and prestige while a consumer and voters would want to maximize utility of their purchase. A political player or bureaucrat would always seek to maximize their power, legacy and public goods through re-election. He also compared real world choices between imperfect market and imperfect government.
The Lessons of Public Choice that the participants drew in that session included that it was not important for the government to know public needs and to economize as they are not spending their money. The main job of the Government should be limited by rules that are above the legislature and majority rule. The rules should be such that they harmonize self-interest of stake holder with social interest and political market. Also, for competitive governance, check and balance is very important. He also demonstrated Milton Friedman’s “Law of spending” for better understanding on public choice and why private spending is better than public spending.
Barun Mitra discussed the idea of property rights connecting it to the state of tribal groups in Orissa Which gave an engaging insight into economic freedom and liberalization in India and made the audience dig deeper into the reasons of poverty in India. Also, his sessions included evolution of Property Rights, significance of property rights, Right to Property, from poverty to prosperity, free Market and free to choose. He explained this using a matrix for Public Policy and showed how deeply rooted is Property Rights in the society and its significance as a human right. This right began from one person and is shaping the evolution of human civilization.
He also explained the significance of property rights by mentioning the stories from Mahabharata,
Magna Carta and Modern Times, which stressed on the rule of law rather than rule of men. He linked these philosophies by stressing on how Protection of property paved the road for prosperity in economic, cultural & spiritual sense. The Wider ownership of property creates the demand for political participation.
He also talked about the significance of property rights in a market economy and maintained that Poverty was not due to lack of assets or cash, but a reflection of the difficulty in capitalizing whatever little assets people may possess.
While talking about free market, he described the market as a platform where demand meets supply and buyers and sellers negotiate for the value of their particular needs. These prices provided information to all participants in the market about the relative scarcity and a free flow of price information made market exchange efficient & ethical. The exchange in the market place was voluntary and created a win-win situation, building peace.
He also stressed that the core function of the government was to uphold Rule of Law that is the Protection of Life, Liberty and Property. Also, Poverty was man-made and a direct result of policies adopted unilaterally by ignoring the market information. No state can design policies to remove poverty. The state can only create an environment where Rule of Law prevails, ensuring justice Security & Freedom enable people to pursue their own goals in peace, and usher in prosperity.
He maintained that the rule of law was very important for the poorest of the poor and it protects their rights. He also mentioned that the rich would be able to get away from the system and protect themselves anyways but the same couldn’t be said about the poor. After this he had very healthy discussions with the participants who questioned him on the concepts.
The workshop was facilitated via interactive sessions that deploy audio-visual material (films clips and images), real life case studies, that helped in understanding and reflecting on the concepts introduced in the workshop. It was an enriching experience for the students. During the program, the participants were articulate and participative. The three-day program ended with a lively interaction with the members of the audience.
Few of the participants cancelled their name at the last moment that creates some difficulty for us as an organizer.
The medium of instruction was English and the participants had varying degree of proficiency in the language
Lot of examples in the session was in Indian context. Few participants found it hard to relate to
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