A workshop was organized by the Indian School of Public Policy (ISPP) on: How political prioritization influences policies and their implementation: cases of WASH policies in India. The workshop was conducted by Raman VR, Head of Policy, WaterAid India, and attended by fifty plus participants and public policy scholars of the ISPP.
Raman VR is a systems and policy expert, with over two and half decades of nationwide experience in health, water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH); and allied sectors. He has a unique association with three flagship missions in India – Swachh Bharat (sanitation) Mission (SBM), National Health Mission and National Literacy Mission.
As part of his opening lecture, Raman briefly touched upon some important examples of political prioritization in India such as the nationalisation of banks, telecom reforms, construction of Konkan Railways, Right to Education Act, NREGS, amongst others, and further focussed on how the impact of the recent high level prioritization of WASH policies in India and the SwachhBharat Mission offers rich policy learnings. He further critically analysed the Swachh Bharat Mission, listed its strengths and highlighted various gaps in the policy, as well as program challenges that the SBM has posed for the nation. Besides the challenges faced, he also raised a number of policy questions and learnings for the future, with reference to such contexts. This was followed by a vibrant discussion and question answer session.
Speaking after the occasion, Raman said: “My brief interaction with the students and faculty of the Indian School of Public Policy, as part of the workshop I led there, was an excellent experience. Many of the students had prior experience in policy and program domains, which I think made our interactions quite rich and grounded. The discussions, and the question and answer sessions, post the lecture, crossed the stipulated time frame, yet the curiosity and enthusiasm of the students persisted, which was an energising experience.” Pradyoth SB, a public policy scholar added: “In his conversation about the phenomenal transformation that has happened in the sanitation sector in India over the last five years, Mr. Raman mentioned that though India had, indeed, traversed a long way, a lot needed to still be done as far as challenges in the sector were concerned. The real challenges, he added, lay in the sustainability of the Individual Household Latrines (IHHLs) built, both in terms of technology used to build them with reference to contamination of drinking water sources and, most importantly, their usage. The session was a very insightful; it emphasized on how policy implementation can be successful if behavioural change is the focus point! Talking about SBM across India, he shared how the implementation of it posed different challenges across different states, highlighting, alongside, his observations on where the policy could have done better, as also its high points.”
Ram Kamesh JV, Head –
Partnerships and Strategic Alliances, the ISPP, emphasized on the need for
public policy scholars to be exposed to sessions conducted by experts in order
to secure the required exposure for the students: “In the study of public
policy, the need to amalgamate theoretical knowledge with experiential learning
is paramount. Mr
Raman’s session not only provided a deep insight into public policy making in a
relatable and comprehensible manner, but also encouraged the scholars to ponder
on plausible solutions pertaining to the challenges discussed.”