Volume 2 Issue 9
Last few weeks have been quite hectic for political environment of the country. On the one hand, we had elections in five states which showed return of two state governments, and reversal of fortunes in three. On the other hand, the central government completed its two years in office. As celebrations and accusations of failure are both attracting media attention, we are trying to look at a deeper, fundamental issue. What is the situation of India’s policy making and implementation system?
It is common knowledge, though often denied or brushed under the carpet, that regardless of the hue of the government at center or states, not much changes on ground because of policies or programs of the governments. For evidence, they cite the situation of public services, from education to public transport and of schemes ranging from poverty alleviation schemes to employment generation schemes. Such is the lack of confidence among people that they very often don’t even bother to know about the policies or schemes. This hurts their own interest because it reduces the chances of success for even decent programs.
But why our public policies so miserably fail to deliver? Our civil servants are the best minds that come to office by clearing tough selection process. Every political party vouches for the welfare of poor and purportedly makes policies for downtrodden, poor, farmers and disadvantaged. Still these sections of society are lagging. That means either right people have not been right responsibilities or there is greater need to assess the ground realities.
Most experts believe that the policy making in India is completely disconnected with the reality. Programs are launched without enough deliberation and in an ossified environment in which there is very little consultation, including with those who will directly be impacted by the proposed programs and schemes. As such, they are undeliverable to begin with. Some others think that policies are often announced for showing the intent of the government without realizing whether they are really desirable or deliverable.
Then we come to the tough grind which is the implementation of policies. This is also plagued by a bureaucratic structure riddled with incompetence, inefficiency, organizational tussles, disputes over jurisdictions, lack of purpose and lack of clarity. All of these make sure that even those policies that could have made some positive difference to the lives of people, meander their way to oblivion and fail to reach the fruition.
But there are still some programs and policies that do well. How do they manage to deliver? Policies deliver when they are defined well by keeping real needs of the people in mind, communicated well to bureaucracy in terms of measurable deliverables and implemented strictly. We have captioned a few of such programs. Invariably, these programs are planned with required consultation within and outside government and are dear to the leaders who ensure with personal interest that these get delivered on ground. That keeps bureaucracy on toe and focused to the job at hand.
Any government is only as good or bad as its policies are and any policy is as good or bad as it delivers. So, if we are really interested in improving our governance, we need to reset our policy making and implementation system in such a way that results are felt on ground. That way, governments would not need to tell people they have delivered on promises. People themselves will vouch for the same.