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Gopalkrishna Gandhi inaugurates XVII International Conference on Public Policy & Management at IIM Bangalore

The former administrator and diplomat dwells on transitions in public perception & behavior made possible by policy 

22 August, 2022, Bengaluru: “We have seen how successful public policy backed by public participation has made a change in India. Immunization, electronic voting, Aadhaar… are all results of public policy. The most important change in India is not material, but attitudinal and intellectual. The rise in the age of consent, the banning of untouchability – these are phenomenal success stories. The change in public perception and public behavior are important transitions made possible by policy,” observed Gopalkrishna Gandhi, while delivering the inaugural address titled, ‘Pre-autumnal Reflections – 2022’, on 22nd August 2022, at the XVII International Conference on Public Policy & Management, organized by the Centre for Public Policy at IIM Bangalore. 

Gopalkrishna Gandhi has been an administrator and has held diplomatic positions in Great Britain, South Africa, Sri Lanka and Norway. He was Governor of West Bengal from 2004 to 2009 and briefly officiated as Governor of Bihar. He is a columnist with the Hindustan Times and The Telegraph (Kolkata). He currently teaches at Ashoka University in the Department of History.

In his address at the conference, Gopalkrishna Gandhi shared his musings on whether the world is a good or a bad place, saying his pondering stemmed from the question that a young woman had asked him, way back in 2001. He told the audience that he was yet to find a satisfactory answer because it was difficult to define happiness and its pursuit. Quoting from Martin Rees’s book, ‘Our Final Hour’, and from the Russell-Einstein Manifesto, in the context of perils confronting humanity like war and weapons, he said: “Remember your humanity, and forget the rest.”

He explained that the success of policy is to be judged “not by the quantum of its compliant acceptance, but by the quality of its awakened reception which includes extensive criticism”.

In his address at the conference, IIMB Director Prof. Rishikesha T Krishnan spoke of the Institute’s long history of working on public systems and public policy. “The Centre for Public Policy works on, and has impacted, many areas of public policy like health, law, education, agriculture, economic-social-rural-urban development, etc. The Centre has contributed towards policy formulation at several levels and has worked with the Government of Karnataka and the Government of India. I am sure all the participants at this conference will benefit immensely from all the tracks.”

Prof. Arnab Mukherji, from the Centre for Public Policy, moderated the discussion, after delivering the welcome address. The inaugural session saw attendance by students of public policy and management, researchers, IIMB faculty, alumni and members of the Board, including Ms Vinita Bali.

Panel on Indian Public Finance

On the evening of 21st August, there was a pre-conference event – a panel discussion titled, ‘Indian Public Finance’, based on Prof. M Govinda Rao’s recent book on the same subject. 

Prof. M. Govinda Rao is a former member of the 14th Finance Commission and Non-resident Senior Fellow, National Council of Applied Economic Research (NCAER). He is also on the Advisory Board of the Centre for Public Policy. The discussion was moderated by Prof. Rajalaxmi Kamath, from the Centre for Public Policy, and the panellists were Prof. NR Bhanumurthy, Vice Chancellor, Babasaheb Ambedkar School of Economics, Vinod Vyasulu, President, CBPS, and M. Govinda Rao. 

Prof. M Govinda Rao spoke about his journey, calling himself a “self-taught economist”. He spoke on what it was to be an academician and an economist; on what he thinks differentiates public finance from the more mainstream classical economics; and on how the research has changed over the last 40 years. 

The International Conference on Public Policy and Management draws scholars and showcases the latest developments in policy research and practice, every year. 

Click here for the XVII Conference’s schedule.

This edition of the Conference is supported by Bank of Baroda and NABARD.

Click here for photo gallery

Click here for Conference Proceedings & Abstracts