August 9, 2018

Opinion

Indian think tanks: a conclusion to the series

Based on what we discussed in the previous posts of this series, we can conclude that Indian think tanks are still evolving. Looking at their history, we see that they have grown and expanded out of political need or due to factors that contribute to the socio-political history of India. While there is no obvious pattern that maps the growth of Indian think tanks, we can say that the political history of India has been underlined and supported by think tanks in an indirect way.

It is only recently that think tanks have been consulted on national and institutional policy issues. For example, some think tanks have been commissioned to conduct studies and research to help with innovative and workable solutions to enhance the policymaking process, and some of these solutions have been adapted in government institutions. If greater focus were given to think tanks, along with financial support and policy challenges, it is likely they would arrive at realistic solutions to better the policymaking process and, in turn, help move the nation forward.

Furthermore, think tanks also serve as excellent advisers in policymaking. They work alongside the governments and, some of them, also work with NITI Aayog (the erstwhile Planning Commission) as experts in their field.

The evolution of Think Tanks in India is an ongoing process. Think tanks are slowly becoming an integral part of the government policymaking process. Some ways to ensure this continues could be for think tanks to:

  • Pool resources to avoid repetition.
  • Strengthen research activities by working in consortiums.
  • Network on common grounds by fundraising, in-house capacity building, and by working on multiple government requirements. This is important because a multi-disciplinary approach is imperative and useful for public policy.

There is hope for think tanks in India if they can both ‘think’ about policy matters and also be a ‘tank’ to house and implement several of the ideas they produce.


Have you conducted research on Indian think tanks and have an opinion on their historical background? Drop us line!

About the author:

Annapoorna Ravichander:  Head of policy engagement and communication at Public Affairs Centre in Bengaluru, India, and On Think Tanks Editor at Large for South Asia.

Read more from: Annapoorna Ravichander

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