domain expertise depending upon the length of time they have held the portfolio. Because of these constraints this constituency is unlikely to be able to develop robust implementation guidelines in a matter of days/weeks and also oversee the implementation at the ground level.
Hence, for far-reaching and broad-based policy measures, it is critical to develop dedicated technical/process design capability at all levels. At the centre and state level for option evaluation and design of the implementation plans and at the district/block level for local customisation of solution and robust implementation. Unfortunately, often enough this task of design and implementation is outsourced to a ‘technical’ vendors/consultants who have a limited strategic lens, poor systemic overview and often have incentives that are not entirely aligned with those of the state.
While the ultimate decision-making authority needs to continue to rest with the line administrator or bureaucrat—what is required are small but highly focused and capable teams who are tasked with the implementation design and are given adequate timelines to do so. These teams need to undertake the research, analysis, option design and evaluation—and hence assist the bureaucrats in their decision making.
3. Strong change management capability closer to the ground: To say that implementing a transformative solution that touches 67% of India’s 1.2 billion population and that involves 500,000 fair price shops, or a solution to be rolled in more than 1 million public schools across the country or something that needs to be done in the 6-lakh-plus villages is no easy task is a gross understatement. The best of the brains across the world will shudder with managing a change programme that spans that scale. However, time and again our policy implementation plans seem to indicate that we believe this can happen by the same people working in the same way as they have done for years—all we need to do is throw a small project management team and some training and communication budget their way. It is truly time we recognised that is impossible.
As we look to transform our age-old systems, as we look to the on-the-ground service deliverers (whether they be teaches/headmasters