iProvok is India-centric but definitely not limited to India. iProvok is established with this realization that for policymakers to academicians – even those who are working on different aspects of the polity and economy – real India is often an unknown entity. In our opinion, the biggest challenges facing India are in the most basic sectors – how to provide quality healthcare to more than a billion poor people, how to rapidly build capacity to support one of the largest mass transition in human history from rural to urban environment, how to massively scale up consumption without environmental devastation.
We want to provide smart and practical solutions- both conventional and unconventional. And we recognize that solutions can come from anywhere. We would like iProvok to emerge as a platform for such idea sharing.
Mainstream media often focuses on what is immediate. On the other hand, academic research – particularly India-centric academic research lacks the practical problem-solving approach. Here at iProvok, we try to locate a middle ground – sharp analysis to find patterns behind daily occurrences, looking for both conventional and unconventional solutions to address the major issues.
As India tries to leapfrog into a developed economy amidst a cacophonous and often dysfunctional grass-root democracy, she faces a set of unique challenges. Here we have decided to focus on the major ones –
Public Policy and open economy – root cause of most of the problems could be traced down to lack of effective policy and institutions and transparency in decision-making. The malaise of crony capitalism is well known – systemic corruption, lack of transparency, nepotism and a plutocratic alliance to keep the field tilted forever in favour of a select few. In our opinion the response needs to be institutional and innovative but that needs to be preceded by proper awareness about this deep-seated malaise.
Public Health – India is home to the largest number of malnourished people in the world, with the highest number of visually impaired, physically challenged people. From death at child birth to infant mortality to prevalence of communicable diseases and ever increasing cases of cancer etc – India looks like a terrible place to be in. On the other hand, India and certainly Indian scientists and doctors are at the forefront of global medical research. India has achieved noteworthy success in controlling Polio and HIV/AIDS. India has also emerged as a pharmaceutical superpower. Therefore it appears more of a policy failure that healthcare system in India is in such a mess. Among all maladies, this – both at individual and macro level – perhaps extracts the heaviest price.
Urbanization – Urbanization has thrown up a whole set of challenges to Indian policymakers. Unlike the European model of compact historical cities or the American model of planned metropolis, surrounded by suburbia, unplanned but continuous urbanization in India and China has created new opportunities and crises. Urban planning, housing, transportation systems, sewage and waste disposal, energy and economic opportunities and above all equality pose – what at this point appear as insurmountable challenge to Indian policy makers. Lack of capability at every level, absence of institutions and right politics complicates the picture even more.
Foreign Policy – India dreams to be an emerging power but New Delhi often lacks its own voice in global affairs. Obsession with neighbours like Pakistan or China or periodic obsession with one superpower or one set of issues like Nuclear treaty, clouds India’s strategic thoughts. India, despite its potentials, also often fails to make the right pitch in economic and soft power diplomacy. Unlike other sectors, discussion on foreign policy in India is still the preserve of either serving or retired diplomats – therefore the discourse often lacks plurality.
Media and Culture – Identity has always been a matter of fundamental concern for any society in transition. For India, with her multitude of identities, culture often sets the discourse.
One of the brightest spots in Indian democratic experiment has been a free and vociferous media. Media has emerged as a powerful mediator between the state and society but in the backdrop of widespread crony capitalism, bias and real ownership of media is not above criticism.
For a country like India with its impressive intellectual tradition, it is surprising that India has so few quality think tanks. Policy research in India very rarely throw up interesting alternatives, rather mostly they are focussed on reacting to government decision-making.
iProvok.com is the web platform created by Nexus K, which is committed to bringing world class and action-oriented research to Indian public policy and related fields. Nexus K is involved in Research, Advocacy and Consultancy in Public Policy.