Raunak Chaturvedi


The surveys are done, the needs are known, the goals have been decided. Now, the product, i.e., the public policy is only left to be made and launched for the public. Through this article, we will have a compendious briefing regarding the various makers of public policies, how do they participate in the policy making process and also understand that how are the policies implemented in India. As the Co-Founder and C.E.O. of PrastaaV: The Policy Research Hub, Mr. Ayush, has rightly said,

‘No one can make a public policy, until he is empowered to do the same’.

We won’t confuse ourselves with the public policy cycle. The public policy cycle is the manufacturing process which is used by the various makers of public policies in India. What we will focus upon is who are the various makers of these policies and how are they subsequently implemented.

List of the Makers-

Let us make a non-exhaustive, indicative list of the entities who directly or indirectly participate in the process of policy-making in India. The various makers and influencers are-

  1. Citizens of India.
  2. Constitution of India.
  3. Legislature.
  4. Executive.
  5. Judiciary.
  6. Advocacy Groups.
  7. Commissions, Committees and Boards.
  8. Bureaucrats.
  9. N.G.O.s.
  10. Policy Research Think Tanks.
  11. International Treaties, Agreements and Conventions.
  12. International Relations.
  13. Competition.
  14. Politics.
  15. Development.
  16. God.

Now that we have made a list of the 16 makers or influencers of public policies, let’s delve into them one-by-one.

Understanding the ‘Manufacturers’-

  1. Citizens of India- They are, by default, the biggest force in making or breaking any public policy. Even the Constitution begins by saying that the citizens of India had provided the Constituent Assembly the powers to draft it. We must keep in mind that the needs, problems and opinions of the citizens are by far, the final commandment for the Government. The Government will have to understand their demands and formulate policies accordingly.
  • Constitution of India- The second most important factor in making public policies is the Constitution in itself. In fact, it is worth mentioning that there is a separate chapter regarding the guidelines to make public policies, viz., the Directive Principles of State Policies[1]. The Fundamental Rights on the other hand are the limitations upon the State, i.e., the State can’t make, pass, or omit anything which is ultra vires the Fundamental Rights.
  • Legislature- We need to understand that the Laws framed by the Parliament and the Legislative Assemblies also are policies. How will the criminals be punished[2], how will the Courts function, how will people’s human rights[3] be protected are nothing but the various public policies formulated by the Legislature. The process usually involves the introduction of Bills in either House, which are then subjected to debates and voting, after which their fate is decided. If these Bills are accepted, they become Acts, or legislations.
  • Executive- Although the real Executive power is vested in the Prime Minister[4] and the Chief Ministers, still, the President and the Governors are the heads of the Executive. That being said, without their signature, it is not possible to implement any Act. Moreover, they have the power to reject any Act and provide their advice upon the same[5]. Furthermore, they have the powers to pass Ordinances[6], which can be used to directly impose a new policy.
  • Judiciary- The Judiciary sits on the backseat in this process. However, since we know that always the boss takes the backseat, the Judiciary too keeps a strict vigilance upon the Legislature and the other authorities and makes sure that the citizens’ Rights are safeguarded. It may also impose a number of guidelines for the better functioning of the administration for public good, like in the case of Vineet Narain v/s. Union of India[7], where it had laid down certain guidelines for the C.B.I. and Vishakha v/s. State of Rajasthan[8], where it had laid down the guidelines regarding workplace harassment for women, etc.
  • Advocacy Groups- These are particular sections, or sometimes, even the whole society who press the Government to pass tailor-made policies. For example, the Consumer Protection groups may press for better Consumer Laws, Women’s Rights groups for stricter provisions regarding offences against women and so on.
  • Commissions, Committees and Boards- The various Commissions, Committees and Boards which are set-up, either statutorily or otherwise, help to either guide, or themselves may lay down new policies. For example, the Law Commission reports are pioneer lighthouses for guiding the Ministries with Laws, the Consumer Commissions are important for interpreting and also formulating and suggesting for better Consumer Protection guidelines and the Pollution Control Boards play a vital role in laying down the standards for Air and Water pollution and also, to prevent the same through their policies.
  • Bureaucrats- This indeed is a relatively non-mainstream topic, but, is a reality. There have been so many instances where such people had been elected as Ministers who had merely passed their Higher Secondary[9]. In such cases, their P.A.s and Secretaries, who are I.A.S. officers, take the helm of the boat and do the main job. This is an open secret. It is not possible for a poorly educated person to run a State or a country properly. Thus, these Bureaucrats then take over and implement policies accordingly. However, they also participate openly, in case they become Secretaries to the Government or the Ministries. Then, they openly provide their opinions.
  • N.G.O.s- This is quite self-explanatory. The N.G.O.s. who strive to achieve certain specific goals, for example, food for beggars, cleaner cities, care of the farmers, education for children, etc., too are instrumental in policy formulation. The Government relies upon their work and surveys for getting first-hand data of the various plights, demands and necessities of the public and then, proceeds accordingly. They are quite similar to advocacy groups, but, the difference is that they are registered under the appropriate Act. Advocacy groups, on the other hand, can be casual groups pertaining to a different school of thought.
  1. Policy Research Think Tanks- PrastaaV is an example of this. Just like we are researching and providing information about different policies, either existing or required, there are many such other organisations who work in the domain of policy research and analysis and provide their professional views regarding various subjects. The Governments also rely on them to understand the follies and requirements in the various policies. However, there is a separate Government policy formulation think tank too, named the NITI Aayog[10], which was replaced by the Planning Commission of India, to research upon and formulate various public policies.
  1.   International Treaties, Conventions and Agreements– These too are policy influencers. For example, the TRIPs Agreement[11] introduced new policies regarding intellectual properties, the United Nations Conference at Stockholm in 1972[12] introduced the Air Act, etc. The International Treaties and Agreements definitely shape the policies as they ask the signatories to implement some Laws or policies regarding the subjects of discussion within their dominions.
  1. International Relations- If two countries have very good relations, then, the policies formulated between them for each other will be inviting and friendly. For example, good trade relations of India with Bangladesh post the Bangladesh-Independence War, where India had assisted Bangladesh[13]. However, if the relations aren’t good, for example China, it may lead to the banning of Chinese applications in India[14].
  1. Competition- Some policies are formulated on the basis of competition. Suppose, if a particular State is doing something, the other State too in competition may formulate or try to do something better. The same goes for different countries. A very good example maybe of the ‘Race to Space’ between the U.S.A. and the U.S.S.R.
  1. Politics- Some policies are simply formed for gaining political mileage. For example, demonetisation, although it wreaked havoc, was simply formed to show that ‘strong’ steps against corruption were being taken.
  1. Development- The more developed a country becomes, the need for different policies also grows. Thus, we can’t have telephone and broadband policies without the required technologies, Cyber Laws without computers, Biotech Laws without decoding the genetic code, etc.
  1. God- Acts of God too influence policy formulation. Thus, policies maybe framed for the homeless people in flooded Assam, or to ease out the loan repayments for drought-stricken farmers of Bengal.

How are they Implemented?

For the sake of our ease, for this part too we will have a list-based approach. The various ways of implementing public policies are-

  1. Citizens- They are the most important ingredient for any policy’s implementation. So, if a policy is made and the citizens refuse to follow it, then, the Government may never be able to implement the policy successfully[15].
  • Police- Being the premier law enforcement agency of any country, the Police play a vital role in the enforcement of any new policy, if required. For example, the Police are the only authority seeing that the policy of the lockdown is being followed diligently.
  • Executive- The Executive has a rather authorising, than ‘directly implementing’ role. The Governors and the President do sign the various Bills to finally give them green flags for becoming Acts. Moreover, they themselves may pass Ordinances for implementing any new policy.
  • Judiciary- The Judiciary also sees that the various policies made are being exercised properly or not. If a dispute comes to the Courts and they find that something has not been done or implemented properly, then, they may order to take the necessary steps.
  • N.G.O.s and Advocacy Groups- They are the premier non-Governmental policy implementation authorities in India. Thus, if the Government formed new policies like Swachch Bharat or Jago Grahak Jago, then, it was due to these groups that they were materialised at the ground levels.
  • Educational Institutions- In continuation of the previous point, the various educational institutions, especially the schools, are targeted in order to implement some very basic policies like that of Swachch Bharat and Save the Environment through conducting campaigns and drives via children.
  • Media- Believe it or not, but mass media acts as the biggest implementation instrument. Regular advertisements, promotions and online campaigns strive to make the public aware of the new policies and work accordingly.
  • Constitutional and Statutory Amendments– This is the cleverest way to implement a policy. Either amend the Constitution so as to validate a new policy, or extinguish a previously required document or policy completely and introduce new documents or requirements, so as to help in the implementation in a newer policy. For example, linking mobile phones to our Aadhar card and bank accounts has become mandatory, thereby promoting the policy of Digital India.
  • Fear Psychosis- Strange but true. Sometimes Governments scare the public, so that the public functions as per their will and thus, helps them to implement their policies. For example, by demonstrating the severe harm caused due to smoking and drinking, Government can scare the public away from such harmful substances and make India a healthier nation.
  1. Additional Perks- Sometimes, the Government may provide some additional perks along with a public policy, so as to allure the public into practicing the same. For example, the Government of West Bengal launched a scheme to provide cycles to boys and girls of classes 9 to 12, for going to school. Thus, through this, the parents were allured to send their children to school only for getting the cycle[16].

So, these are the various ways in which the State can implement its policies. The list isn’t exhaustive but it clearly indicates the major ways of public policy implementation in India.


The readers may now have understood the various sources of public policy formulation and implementation in India. Even while writing this article, the policy of Right to Information is being implemented. However, how far these policies succeed is a question for time to answer.

[1] The Constitution of India, available at: https://www.india.gov.in/sites/upload_files/npi/files/coi_part_full.pdf (last visited on August 8, 2020)

[2] Indian Penal Code 1860, available at: https://www.indiacode.nic.in/bitstream/123456789/4219/1/THE-INDIAN-PENAL-CODE-1860.pdf (last visited on August 8, 2020)

[3] The Protection of Human Rights Act 1993, India, available at: http://ncwapps.nic.in/acts/TheProtectionofHumanRightsAct1993.pdf (last visited on August 8, 2020)

[4] J.N. Pandey, Constitutional Law of India 25 (Central Law Agency, Prayagraj, 56th edn., 2019)

[5] In re Kerala Education Bill, AIR 1958 SC 956

[6] The Constitution of India, art. 123

[7] 1 SCC 226

[8] AIR 1997 SC 3011

[9] Rabri Devi Biography, available at: https://www.oneindia.com/politicians/rabri-devi-32893.html (last visited on August 8, 2020)

[10] NITI Aayog, India, available at: https://niti.gov.in/ (last visited on August 8, 2020)

[11] TRIPs Agreement, available at: https://www.wto.org/english/docs_e/legal_e/27-trips.pdf (last visited on August 8, 2020)

[12] N.V. Paranjape, Environmental Law 153 (Central Law Agency, Prayagraj, 2nd edn., 2016)  

[13] India-Bangladesh Relationship, available at: https://www.drishtiias.com/daily-updates/daily-news-editorials/india-bangladesh-relationship (last visited on August 8, 2020)

[14] Government alerts Chinese companies to comply with app ban order in India, available at: https://www.timesnownews.com/technology-science/article/government-alerts-chinese-companies-to-comply-with-app-ban-order-in-india/625230 (last visited on August 8, 2020)

[15] When Gandhi’s Salt March Rattled British Colonial Rule, available at: https://www.history.com/news/gandhi-salt-march-india-british-colonial-rule (last visited on August 8, 2020)

[16] About Sabooj Sathi, India, available at: https://wbsaboojsathi.gov.in/v2/ (last visited on August 8, 2020)


Kinkini Chaudhuri · August 30, 2020 at 11:06 am

Let me be the first one to leave a comment. Must say that it is fantastically written. Best of luck for more such articles.

    admin · September 5, 2020 at 7:05 am

    Thank you for your feedback. We constantly try to improve the quality of our research with your valuable suggestions.

    Team Prastaav

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