The source of all our problems now, according to Reserve Bank of India Governor Raghuram Rajan, is the poor delivery of public services – whether it is getting a ration card or getting subsidised items under PDS or getting a government job or getting proper medical treatment in a government health facility.
This is the lament of the common man whose life that is already a struggle gets even more challenging.
It is unfortunate that even after 68 years of independence we are still faced with problems of poverty, with 70 per cent of the population living below the poverty line, while 46 per cent children suffer malnutrition and 65 per cent of our citizens are forced to attend nature’s call in the open.
Leaders who fought for freedom gave the countrymen the nectar of democracy, life of liberty and joy of free will.
But sadly, while absorbing the benefits of freedom we have failed to realise the responsibilities entailed. People reposed abundant faith in their leaders that they would somehow work magic in their lives and lead them to prosperity.
Little do we realise, it is only hard work and production of goods and services that can ensure economic progress. While basking in the glory of rights we failed to realise our duties and responsibilities.
The bureaucracy that is entrusted with the task of effecting the change remains in a cocoon, enjoying the power, pelf and privileges without fulfilling its responsibilities. This is the single most important reason for the stagnation in key areas affecting the people and for the failure of the benefits of progress to reach the majority of the population.
Our Prime Minister Narendra Modi, while inaugurating the first National Handloom day, likened the handwoven cloth to mother’s love.
A mother bears all difficulties and sacrifices for the welfare of her children and protects them with love. Similarly, handloom cloth, which is the result of the sweat and toil of the weaver, when worn wafts the true love of a mother. About 80 per cent of a weaver’s house is occupied by handlooms, while the family has to be content with the remaining space. The entire family is involved in weaving, like a mother nurturing a child. When one thinks of khadi and handloom one is reminded of a mother’s love, her care and the healthy food she makes.
Public service should be like parental care, giving a protective cover to the common man and must reach out to them. To achieve this three Ts are important, namely trusting local communities, training them and transferring powers.
The tiny state of Nagaland took this initiative up and implemented a concept aptly named communitisation, a paradigm improvement over decentralisation. This is the concept of purna swaraj visualised by Mahatma Gandhi, where the local people of the village are not only enabled to take decisions but are also given the requisite skills to take qualitative and appropriate decisions.
This programme run by the Nagaland Government, which aimed at empowering people, won the coveted United Nations Award for Public Service from Asia and the Pacific region in 2008 for “fostering participation in policy making through innovative mechanism.”
Nagaland’s Programme of Communitisation of Public Institutions and Services has helped the State move closer to fulfilling the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), enunciated by the United Nations.
District Lokvani Society of Sitapur in Uttar Pradesh was among the finalists in the ‘improving transparency, accountability and responsiveness to the public service’ category.
The award is considered the most prestigious international recognition of excellence in public service. It rewards the creative achievements and contributions of public service institutions that lead to a more effective and responsive public administration in countries worldwide.
Similar innovative initiatives are called for ensuring community participation. This can be achieved only if people realise their responsibilities and begin questioning local elected representatives, be it the councillor, MLA or MP.
How many of us have really contacted them or even know their contact numbers?
We only hear of negative experiences as such incidents have greater impact on us, while there are several positive experiences where people had their grievances redressed.
There are a number of government portals available online where one can register their grievances and wait for redressal. We should make use of these facilities instead of blaming each other. We should improve our civic sense, improve our communication with local authorities and reduce disparity in society by helping others. Our silence itself is passive violence that is equally harmful to society at large.
Time to act is now. Let us help the government help us. Without our involvement nothing can succeed and with it nothing can fail!