From the Viewsroom

The rollback syndrome

Preeti Mehra | Updated on February 22, 2018 Published on February 22, 2018

Act in haste, recant right away — that seems to be the policy

When the Planning Commission was envisaged, the idea was to plan for progress, research the steps to be taken to achieve goals, and implement a programme systematically over a five-year period. If a deadline was missed, the state was expected to review why that had happened and how this could be rectified. In short, policymaking was a well-defined process and a work in progress.

Today, though we keep harping on good governance, it is clear that policy announcements are made arbitrarily and in haste without thinking them through or reflecting on possible outcomes and impact. Neither is the best route to follow given due consideration. Take the case of the policy on Electric Vehicles. Till just a week ago, the domestic auto industry, foreign players, the Government and all allied stakeholders were quoting the 2030 government deadline for an all-electric ecosystem in the country. The entire Delhi Auto Expo that took place this month was geared towards this with auto-makers showcasing future trends, designs and visions.

And then, 24 hours after the expo concluded, came the news that the Centre was putting its ambitious plans on the back-burner. Manufacturers were told they were free to go the EV way on their own initiative. It is not just the EV policy that has been impacted by the rollback culture. Take the case of GST. Just before the Gujarat elections, the Centre reduced the percentage of levies on a clutch of products. The move was obviously dictated by political compulsions. As a result, the GST policy went through a process of dilution. Rewind to demonetisation. Once again, a hasty monetary policy decision without sufficient forethought saw chaos across the country. Ditto the ban on cattle sale for slaughter which had to be finally revoked.

The ever-growing list of partial or complete u-turns is cause for concern. It reflects poorly on any government as it shows lack of maturity and clarity in framing policy. Clearly, more time needs to be spent on the drawing board.

Associate Editor

Published on February 22, 2018
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