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Civil society institutions 'rarely' play a discernible role in informing economic decisions: Book

New Delhi, Jan 21 (PTI) India's civil society institutions 'rarely' play a discernible role in informing economic decisions because ruling governments come down heavily on them whenever they take a contrarian position on policies related to public matters, says a new book.

The book titled 'WONKED!:India in Search of an Economic Ideology' -- written by Vivan Sharan, partner at a policy advocacy firm Koan Advisory Group -- further says that suboptimal economic decision-making in India is led by conceptual challenges such as lack of state capacity.

Sharan, who is also a visiting fellow at the Observer Research Foundation, said that while the country has a high concentration of non-governmental organisations, estimated by the Central Bureau of Investigation to be around 3.1 million in 2015, only a handful contribute to public policy consultations.

'India's civil society institutions such as universities and think tanks rarely play a discernible role in informing economic decisions... One of the reasons for this is because civil society institutions that take contrarian or critical positions on public matters are dealt with a heavy hand by the ruling government,' it said.

The book written by Vivan Sharan, partner at India's Koan Advisory Group also stressed the need for adopting a combination of worthy ideas from both the left and right by India's public institutions.

Noting that the lack of debate within civil society and minimal exchange of ideas on policy matters is a worrying trend, the book says the under-performance of public institutions such as regulating bodies or even the judiciary is even more distressing.

According to book,India can only define an economic ideology for itself by first embracing a culture of healthy debates, necessitating a change from the status quo wherein ideas are rarely contested on their merits. PTI BKS MKJ