Anticipating the Unintended #38: ‘No Train Lost Its Way’

This newsletter is really a weekly public policy thought-letter. While excellent newsletters on specific themes within public policy already exist, this thought-letter is about frameworks, mental models, and key ideas that will hopefully help you think about any public policy problem in imaginative ways. It seeks to answer just one question: how do I think about a particular public policy problem/solution?

India Policy Watch: Goodhart’s Law, our ministers in the dark and the evil BCG

Insights on burning policy issues in India

— Raghu Sanjaylal Jaitley

If there was a metaphor needed for the current times, reports about a shramik special train ‘losing its way’ last week would have been perfect. The Rail Ministry later clarified there was congestion in the usual route that prompted it to divert a few trains through a longer route. No train lost its way. The ministry had decided to run 300 shramik special trains a day to destinations mostly in UP, Bihar and Jharkhand. The congestion in a few sectors was inevitable according to rail officials. It is remarkable that with known routes, coordinated rail zones and decades of experience in running these sectors, we discover congested stretches post factum. And, we are unwilling to accept a single train mistakenly ‘losing’ its way as a one-off incident, but we are happy to concede poor planning leading to trains piling up, passengers being kept in dark about their routes, lack of social distancing, poor sanitation and many deaths on these trains. A genuine mistake is a sign of weakness that cannot be countenanced while generic mismanagement is fine since it can be brazened out. There’s a metaphor there.

Read the full edition here.