While the government has done well to launch myriad schemes over the last two-and-half years in power, it is now contemplating bringing in a team of behavioural economists and advertising gurus to improve these programmes’ mass appeal. According to a report in The Economic Times, NITI Aayog will be tying up with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to set up a ‘nudge unit’ to bring about behavioural changes and recommend policy corrections to make programmes like Jan-Dhan Yojana, Skill India, Digital India, etc, more effective. While the experience would certainly be a new one for India, it would just be following the UK where a Behavioural Insights Team was set up in 2010.
Though mobile advertisements have been changing the way government has been disseminating information, success has been uneven with some schemes garnering more attention than others. A case study from Guatemala published by World Bank in June 2016 shows that the government was able to increase tax compliance by sending letters that used certain behavioural design than regular tax notices. With large asymmetry of information in the country, the nudge unit can certainly play an important role not only in changing the public perception about programmes but also in ensuring more accountability so that embarrassment for the government, like it faced with its Nagla Fatela claims, are avoided.