Proposal: A regulatory body for India’s population problem

India faces a myriad of problems. Fundamental to solving
them is the problem of an exploding population. It is easy
to tell that I am obsessed with the problem.
Continuing on from
my last ruminations on India’s population problem
, I
now propose an instrument for beginning to address India’s
most pressing problem.

First, let’s recognize that the political will
is critical for any sort of change to happen. Something may
be a great idea but unless it is politically acceptable,
that great idea will not see the light of day. So the
solution I propose has to be one such that is politically
feasible, not just that it is an imperative.

I think it is fair to assume that at least some thinking people
in the various political parties
recognize that India’s exploding population is a major problem
and that it needs to be addressed. However, they also realize
that any political party which is foolish enough to take the
unpopular measures needed to solve the population problem will
not be around for very long. The Indian voter is terrified of
any suggestion that they curb their prolific unconstrained
breeding. So no political party would be willing to commit
suicide by unilaterally declaring a tough population policy.

Let’s shift focus for a moment. Institutions exist which
take away the government’s discretionary powers so as to sheild
public policy from short-sighted political expediency.
Take for example,
monetary policy. In most civilized nations, monetary policy
is dictated by an independent central bank, not by the
political leaders of the government. Alan Greenspan, the
present chair of the Federal Reserve decides on the monetary
policy, not Mr. Bush, for instance. Another area where the
government has to be specifically kept out of is the
judiciary. An independent judiciary is another of those
institutions which civilized nations have to ensure that
the often perverse incentives of politicians don’t sacrifice
the greater public good for short-sighted political gains.

To sum up, there are institutions which are autonomous
and which have a mandate to formulate policies in some
specific area and no government can interfere in the
making of those policies and therefore the governments
are sheilded from any adverse fallouts of those policies.

I propose a new autonomous public institution called
Population Planning Authority of India which
will have the mandate to formulate population policies
and oversee their implementation. The PPAI has to be
formed by a statue, of course. To get that statute passed
you need the current parliament to wake up and realize the
benefits of a regulatory authority which would free the
political parties from being held responsible for any
unpopular policies.

Once the PPAI is formed, it can implement reasoned policies
for controlling the population. I have one such plan which
is based on two simple principles which are:

  1. Markets Works

  2. Incentives Matter

Stay tuned for the plan which I will outline in my next
post tomorrow.