Over the next few days, I will reproduce excerpts from the winning entries. The detailed responses for most of the winners can be found in the comments of the original posts.
The winners, in no particular order:
Winner 1: FirstBallSix, in response to “Is there an alternative to entitlements for the social sector?”
At this moment, India has a huge demographic advantage in terms of the percentage of overall population that can be part of the workforce (in other countries, the population is aging). This is India’s moment – we should do everything to seize the moment.
The best role the government can play here is that of an active enabler. Just a passive “no hindrance” role will NOT suffice (though many people want it that way) – we need an absolutely positive approach to this decade and the next.
Winner 2: Aaren, for answers (reproduced partially below) across multiple questions:
The objective of government in India should be the provision of some key services – law & order (public safety, the enforcement of contracts, etc.), defence (protecting the people from external threat) and the development of MINIMAL regulation to permit markets to solve all other problems. As an extension of this, the government should not be involved in the provision of employment or education, industrial / agricultural policy should be restricted to minimal governmental intervention.
Direct Cash Transfers – based only on economic criteria, none on on caste / religion based critiera would be a good starting point.
The long term, the key is to move AWAY from an entitlements-based regime. We need to give people opportunity to access the market, and stop there.
Local government is a great place to start, but the key is to empower people.
Given that increased urbanization is inevitable globally, and even more in India, the solution does not lie in giving rural Indians a method of building a good life for themselves in their villages, it lies in improving our existing and developing new urban communities where the rural populace has a chance to improve their lot.
We need to –
a. Permit private sector investment and involvement in education. Nothing quite works like competition and the profit motive, the market will weed out poor performers
b. Promote school vouchers and cash transfers to the poor to pay for schooling – school choice and/or charter schools are great methods of improving access and quality to primary and high school education
c. Look to build more universities – either completely private or with governmental support or in public / private partnership
d. Appoint regulators who will ONLY overview curricula from a standpoint of minimums in skills or knowledge that students should have AND monitor testing efforts to see how much students are learning.