Establishing thought partnerships between the government and private entities

SourceThe Hindu 

Synopsis: Government should put more effort into establishing more “thought partnerships” with private entities. It is to find appropriate solutions to the policy challenges faced by the country.


  • Over the last few years, cooperation between the government and private partners on complex policy issues has increased. For example,
      • Induction of private individuals into the civil services through lateral entry scheme.
      • Recruitment of private individuals as consultants, officers on special duty by Central government ministries and institutions such as NITI Aayog.
  • Such support is critical for tackling issues like; huge vacancies in the central government and over-burdened and under-resourced civil service.
  • Moreover, lack of government capacity (knowledge) is evident in suboptimal policy decisions and poor implementation of those policies.
  • Hence, there is a strong case for building a “thought partnership” with private entities.

What is a “thought partnership”?

  • Thought partnership is different from the recruitment of private consultants.
  • Recruitment of  private consultants is usually done to support government officials with additional manpower to manage routine tasks.
  • In “thought partnership“, private entities will engage with the government in collaborative thinking.
  • Thought partnerships are a structured mechanism for private entities. They provide strategic expertise to the government on policy design, evaluation, and implementation.

What are the advantages in buildingthought partnership”?

  • First, it will help us to utilize the domain knowledge and resources of private individuals. It will ensure the government delivers on its mandate across sectors in the most effective manner.
      • For example, take the case of  Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana (PMKVY) 3.0.
      • Through PMKVY 3.0 the government wants to focus on matching local skilling requirements with local job opportunities.
      • However, any plan of this  large scale cannot be successful only with the  work of a few individuals, a department or even a ministry.
      • It requires co-working with different entities, including collaboration between the government and external partners.
      • This is where “thought partnership” with private entities becomes helpful.
  • Second, the private entities can be used to  fund the thought partnership expeditiously without any conditions. For example, Already several domestic and international philanthropies are investing billions of dollars into critical sectors in developing countries including India.

Has India attempted for “systemic thought partnerships” in the past?

Yes, several ministries have attempted systemic thought partnerships occasionally. However, it has not yielded the definitive way forward on government-private collaboration. Some of them are,

  • One, the establishment of The National Institute of Public Finance and Policy, Department of Economic Affairs Research Programme. 
      • It was established after the 2005 Ashok Lahiri Committee report. Report stated that there was not enough knowledge about external capital flows and controls in India.
      • The Programme led to the creation of world-class research on capital controls and flows in India, developed by Indian researchers.
  • Two, In 2015, the Ministry of Corporate Affairs constituted a research secretariat headed by the Vidhi Centre for Legal Policy.
      • It was tasked to support the Companies Law Committee to make informed decisions on the principles involved and international practices in the areas of insolvency, raising of capital, etc.
  • Three, Currently the National Institute of Financial Management is working with the Department of Economic Affairs to provide legal research and technical assistance on Indian and foreign financial markets.
  • Four, in 2018,the Ministry of Skill Development  started engaging with multiple private firms such as Dalberg Global Development Advisors and Samagra-Transforming Governance to conceptualise and design its vision for 2025.

Policy choices made in isolation without proper debate, research, and questioning will produce  suboptimal results. It is therefore in the public interest that government should build more “thought Partnership” with private entities to find optimal solutions to the  pressing policy challenges faced by the country.

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