Reliable data interpretations to be the basis of public policy decisions

Asha Bajaj
4 min readJun 14, 2019

#PublicPolicy; #GoodGovernance; #DataInterpretations; #ArtificialIntelligence; #CanadaIndiaFoundation; #RichardEvans; #VandanaKumar; #StephenChait; #VinodVyas; #AadharCard; #PrashantSrivastava;

Toronto, Jun 14 (Medium): A panel discussion on ‘CIF & Seneca Panel Discussion: Public Policy & Good Governance’ was organized by Canada India Foundation (CIF) at Seneca College, 1750 Finch Avenue East Toronto, Ontario on June 12 from 2 pm — 4 pm.

This panel discussion on ‘Public Policy & Good Governance’ is a part of the two-weeks’ training program provided to senior civil servants of the Government of India visiting Canada, by Seneca College. Prashant Srivastava, Director, South Asia Seneca International, collaborated with CIF in organizing this event.

This international training is part of a two-year post graduate diploma in Financial Management at the National Institute of Financial Management (NIFM), India in which these officers visiting Canada are taught the best practices in Financial Management.

The panelists of this forum were: Mr. Richard Evans, Director General, Industry Statistics Branch Statistics Canada; Dr. Vandana Kumar, Joint Secretary, Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion, Ministry of Commerce & Industry, Government of India; Mr. Stephen Chait, Director, Economic Growth, Culture & Entrepreneurship, City of Markham, Ontario, Canada.

The moderator of the panel discussion was Mr. Vinod Vyas, Founder & Senior Partner, Partho Technologies Inc., Member of CIF’s Board of Governors.

From left to right: Richard Evans, Vandana Kumar, Vinod Vyas, Stephen Chait

Vinod Vyas introduced all the three panelists and said in his introductory speech that according to Narendra Modi, the present prime minister of India, good governance is the key to the nation’s progress. The factors constituting good governance, said Vyas, our freedom from poverty and freedom from hunger. Vyas added that policy decisions and good governance should be based on impartiality, neutrality, flexibility, and growth.

The first speaker, Richard Evans’ said in his topic of discussion ‘DATA AND AI Public Policy and Good Governance’ that policy decisions and good governance should be based on trustworthy data which can be done by adopting the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in data interpretation. Evans highlighted the vast applications of AI and machine learning in almost every field such as medicine, machine learning models, health, education and this has, to a large degree, expanded the border between what is possible and impossible. But there still exists some ethical issues in the use of technology in policy decisions such as data interpretation using AI. For example, the digital presence in our lives such as Facebook, LinkedIn is faced with ethical challenges of privacy, security, ownership of the data and how and who should use this data. A robust policy framework should be there to protect individual rights, security, and privacy.

The next speaker Dr. Vandana Kumar highlighted how a paradigm shift in governance should be based on three issues: Reform, Perform and Transform. She said that during last five years India had witnessed several reforms such as the implementation of GST, liberalization of several policies, scrapping of several laws, enhanced ease of doing business, digital transformation such as linking innumerable accounts with mobile phones for bank accounts, government’s resolution in decision making and speedy implementation. Introduction of the Aadhaar Card, which is a unique identification number issued to every resident of India was a very beneficial feature. An Aadhaar card is as significant as a PAN card for an Indian citizen and can be used as an identification proof too. She added that there are at present 1.2 billion Aadhar accounts. She also highlighted other key enablers such as several startup projects in India with funding as well as policy support and mentorship, advanced use of industrial information system as a central repository for all industrial information, digital ecosystem, etc. All these factors have made India one of the topmost investment destinations in the world. She also showed us the photographs of Modi sweeping the streets and Modi himself reviewing all the projects etc.

The last speaker Stephen Chait spoke about how the leaders of both the central and the state level should collaborate to form a framework for policy-making and good governance. He then gave the example of how his department was able to build a successful political leadership. Chait said his team is referred to as city builders and they aim to build a better city by fostering and promoting a thriving and resilient economy based on creative excellence, innovation, partnerships in investments, projects, and infrastructure. Stephen added that their core business areas are scheduling of rotating themed exhibitions, art camps in summer, winter and March break, art classes and professional development, McKay Art Centre shows, Public Art Policy and program administration. Other areas of interest are museums and theatres. Chait said that in our governance model is based on transparency and we all report to City Councils. We have set up Charitable Foundation and Advisory Boards. Stephen said that their community was responsible for actively promoting and celebrating the life of the work of Frederick H. Varley and other Canadian artists. They are guided by a 4-year strategy and annual business plan.

A question and answer session between the moderator and the panelists and between the audience and the panelists followed which ended satisfactorily. More than 100 members of the audience were present for the event. Souvenirs were then presented to the panelists and other dignitaries. This was followed by networking and the event came to an end.

Top: Group photo, bottom: gathering at the event

(Reporting by Asha Bajaj)



Asha Bajaj

I write on national and international Health, Politics, Business, Education, Environment, Biodiversity, Science, First Nations, Humanitarian, gender, women