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Focus on Time - Bound Delivery of Services (23 March 2021)

Focus on Time - Bound Delivery of Services (23 March 2021)

Context:

  • Recently, while releasing a book titled “Bringing Governments and People Closer” by M Ramachandran, former secretary to Government of India, the Vice President said the expectations of the people boil down to easy, transparent, and hassle-free systems and procedures in public offices.

Background:

  • He suggested that essential services should be streamlined and citizen charters like the Right to Information must clearly specify the time within which any service can be availed.

  • He underlined the importance of reforms in governance, and said they have to be implemented in letter and spirit by all the stakeholders to bring about a transformation in people’s lives.

Summary of the Debate

Kind of problems that a common citizen encounters in public offices:

  • In line with the minimum government maximum governance many things have started changing, technology is becoming helpful to people but beyond that it is not ensured that the ordinary person living in some far of village or in some corner of a city in a slum or so can avail of whatever the government is supposed to provide, be it a service, be is a document, be it a certification in a hassle-free manner.

  • There are many numbers of studies which talk about corruption, there are certain areas and departments where if someone has to get something done, there are lots of issues involved, even fundamentals like the basic title to a property or a land, even in getting that there is hassle, getting registration done is a big hassle.

  • There are issues that technology has become a facilitator, digitalization has taken things closer to people but that is one aspect of it other than that there will be certain areas where a sort of contact with the government functionary or office is a must.

  • Technology is a great facilitator, but it is not accessible to an illiterate or semi-literate person.

  • There are so many areas where a lot has not been done to make sure that governance happens the right way because that is where the face of the government is seen by the ordinary person.

Factors that are still impeding a time-bound hassle-free delivery of services:

  • Within the government system probably, there is lethargy visible at various places.

  • When you're part of the system, you probably don't experience the problems the other person is facing, only when you're out of the system you tend to experience it much more.

  • Technology is supposed to help the people but the systems have been complicated in particular areas so badly that the consumer who goes to get that service is again will have to go to the transport office to get a driving license or have to go to the department of education to get certificate or want to go and get caste certificate.

  • Internet is not available all through in a very fluent manner all across the state.

  • Unless the states chip in in a big way to streamline or to remove the roadblocks, we will not be able to achieve what we call as the best practices that we are seeking to achieve in the new India.

Needs to be done to have a more trust-based governance in terms of service delivery:

  • Transparency: Whatever is to be done, it should be very clear.

  • Greater accountability to public: Accountability has to be at the local level whether it is a village level or a local body level or a town level, whatever it is it should be very clearly stated that for this service this person is accountable or this level is accountable.

  • Separate Index: We have different types of index, so let's have an index whereby the common man's access to availing a service is also an index, whereby it can be assessed whether to what extent common people have been able to access this in a hassle-free manner.

  • Participative arrangement: Taking the services of independent neutral people in the society who could oversee where, what the problem is and then bring it to the authorities concerned immediately.

  • Tight monitoring mechanism: There should be scare about if a member of parliament or an MLA or a senior functionary raises this complaint that so-and-so service was not available, it should be taken as a serious issue and that type of a fear also has to come about in the system so that these basics are sorted and we can go beyond this.

  • Information sharing: There are various training programs which are organized for government functionaries and that should be shared with the public that this is what this fellow sitting at the counter either in a bank or a government office has been advised to do, how to handle and that should be known to the public, so the public person when he or she has to face a situation where this fellow is not helpful he can point out to him or to his next superior that you say this is the training given to him but this is the way he is behaving.

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