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Scrutiny
  
The think army
Do think-tanks shape the nation?
19/02/2009

A bright idea can not only change a life, but also reshape the phase of a nation. Governments invest time, money, valuable resources, and human capital for a bright idea, an accurate policy. But a recent trend has seen governments investing in and acknowledging the contributions of think-tanks, in the past considered simply a group of learned scholars and intellectuals. As the complexity of policy issues are widening gradually, some countries – especially America – have succeeded in advantageously exploiting the repository of research, knowledge and competencies held in such think-tanks to achieve a competitive edge over other nations.

For example, the US had less than 10 think-tanks before 1950s. With time, not only the number of these think-tanks increased gradually, but also America’s ability and dexterity in using them. Comparatively, there are now about 1,777 think-tanks; Washington alone has over 350 think-tanks, higher than any country in the world. US is the only country where administration has its core people from its renowned think-tanks. Thus, think-tanks in the US are often called ‘governments in waiting’.

While Ronald Reagan blindly believed in The Heritage Foundation, Bill Clinton was dependant on experts from Brooking Foundation. While George Bush sought help from the right-wing American Enterprise Institute in need, President Obama is seeking guidance from the left-wing Centre for American Progress desperately. Though US dominates the list, the Foreign Policy magazine, itself another think-tank, shows how UK (with 283 think-tanks), Germany (186), France (165), Russia (107), and Japan (105) are among other influential countries. Out of 5,465 think tanks in the world currently, 1,872 are located in Northern America.

Are think-tanks the reason US has an intellectual edge over many other equally developed countries like Germany, UK, Japan, and Russia when it comes to influencing global policy initiatives? Well, considering that the two countries least hit by recession, India and China, are served by a mere 121 and 74 think-tanks respectively, the correlation needs further validation, eh.

By:- Akram Hoque
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