Oxford Dictionary defines policy as “a course of action adopted and pursued by a government, party, ruler, Statesman, etc.” In this sense, policy is a particular term of practical politics. But the behavioural social scientists have extended this term to all such fields of activity in which decision making and implementation are essential elements for the realisation and fulfillment of a programme or plan of action. These new fields of applied social sciences are known as Policy Sciences.
Political Science is one of them. Harold D. Lasswell is one of the founders of the Policy Sciences. According to him, every policy has to pass through three stages from the time it is formulated to its final realisation. They are pre¬arena, arena and post-arena stages. An arena is a whole complex of activities by various people and conditions of knowledge and know-how in which a policy can be prepared, implemented, and assessed. When it is being prepared or formulated, it is pre-arena stage; when it is being implemented, it is its arena stage, and when it is completed, and its results are being evaluated it is its post-arena stage. At each stage, it requires contributions from various experts in various social and other sciences and applied arts, e.g. engineering, electronics, information and communication.
Political Policy is a sub-division of Political Science. However, as a policy of government or of its departments, it is not something new. All governments and States in the past had their policies, howsoever crude or ineffective they might have been. Moreover, government policy differs from State to State and government to government. The reason is that the amount of knowledge and know-how available to any government at any particular time varies in volume and efficacy.
Some governments are, indeed, reluctant to formulate their policies on the knowledge and know¬how actually available at the time due to their political or ideological pre¬conceptions. For instance, the political policy of an autocratic State or a dictatorship is different from that of a democratic State. The policy of the democracy is a more complex, more comprehensive and more protracted affair than is the case in an undemocratic State. In a dictatorship, only the dictator and his close associates formulate a policy, while in a democratic State, leaders of public opinion and mass media as well social scientists and other experts will contribute their knowledge and know-how at each arena- stage of policy formulation, decision, implementation and ultimate evaluation.
Lastly, the final assessment of a policy, which has been already implemented, becomes a new source of knowledge and know-how or feed¬back, for a new policy. Thus the post-arena stage becomes the feed-back stage for later policies.