DailyPost 2390

We have endless think tanks in the country doing brainstorming sessions and churning out of documents, might be of high academic value and gloss, but how many of these can be translated into reality. If they were to churn out documents of excellent academic value, were the academicians not enough, why have a new outfit, with such grandiose names and big budgets doing exactly the same thing. It’s the same thing because the end result of both the documents is one and same – it ends up in some academic storage, which no one would use. Even the authors of those documents forget it, once the limited purpose has been served.

To best of my understanding Think Tanks were to think in collective manner with huge amount of research inbuilt into it. The funding was also supposed to be in a manner that facilitates delivery of output in this manner. If Think Tanks become like regular employment, it loses its basic purpose and, in all likelihood, it would not serve the purpose which it so proudly proclaims to the world. The first principle of a Think Tank is that it should play the game with a straight bat. Academics, practice, research, and expertise ending up in workable wisdom, based on collective effort is the final product, the world expects from them.

A very typical example is the mushrooming of Think Tanks on Public Policy not to talk of good number of public policy schools. Each of these are engaged their own and does not connect to the public policy makers in any way. Nor is there much of a scope for them to play any role given the public policy mechanism of the country. Some ex-bureaucrats adorn them to provide credibility and make some adventures into doing survey, create model policy documents or suggestions. It might lead to a little funding, the think tank continues to remain in the periphery for all time to come. It helps in employing a few people do work full time and part time and sustain some chatterati as well.

To be or not to be, is a question every organization / institution should ask? If the answer is in the affirmative, it should deliver what it has set out to be in black and white, in documents and in practice, otherwise there should be a system of audit, by which they should be asked to close shop. Think Tanks are a serious business and speaks low of the country, if they don’t contribute in the right manner. It also means high end talent being wasted or they becoming susceptible to easy life, and can continue on a college mode for rest of their life. Some might end up doing nefarious jobs, doing damage way beyond what their dormancy can do. Let’s try and revive the Think Tanks, make them relevant to become the *feeder for all sorts of inputs, the government and the public domain world lacks on a regular basis.

Sanjay Sahay

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