Yesterday evening I happened to be at an event held at a high-end South Mumbai restaurant where some esteemed panelists were discussing “how today’s youth is actively building a career within the political framework and disrupting the traditional construct of bureaucracy to create real impact”. The main Tag Line for the event was “Empowering Youth, Creating Change with the Government”.
As the event went on, and one after the other speaker went on and expressed their point of view I couldn’t help but notice that the entire discussion centered on how young Indians can contribute in politics by giving inputs on matters of policy. It was followed by a beautiful Q & A where all the questions also were also strictly on how X youth can help the government in formulating Y policy.
Now as I heard the different points of view only one thing kept on going in my head. I asked myself this question,are we a policy starved nation? We always hear this word time and again in the media called “Policy Paralysis”. This term is used no matter which government is in power. So if we formulate good policies we will basically solve all the problems of our nation?
Let me state what I am trying to say by giving a tangible example. One of the major causes of concern in our country since independence has been
poverty and the plight of the socially and economically backward sections of our society in all possible parameters. I am now going to give you a small list of schemes/policies currently available to tackle the problems faced by the socially and economically backward section of our society in Rural as well as urban India.
Urban India Schemes related to the economically/socially backward sections:
a. The Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission
b. Swarna Jayanti Shahari Rozgar Yojana
c. Rajiv Awas Yojna
d. The Affordable Housing in partnership scheme.
e. The scheme for housing the Urban Poor (ISHUP)
f. National Urban Livelihoods Mission
g. Rajiv Rinn Yojana
h. There is a centrally sponsored night shelter scheme for footpath dwellers.
Rural India schemes related to the economically/socially backward sections:
a. Babu Jagjeevanram Chhatrawas Yojana
b. Rajiv Gandhi National Fellowship.
c. Educational Development Programs for schedule caste girls
d. There is a scheme dedicated to issues relating to health care for scheduled castes/tribes.
e. Central Sector Scheme for Free coaching for SC& OBC students.
f. Van Bandhu Kalyan Yojna
h. Indira Awas Yojna
i. Pandit Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Grameen Kaushalya Yojna
j. Swachata Udyami Yojana
k. Creation of Venture Capital Fund for Schedule Castes Scheme
l. Credit Enhancement Guarantee Scheme for Young& Start-Up entrepreneurs belonging to SC’s.
m. Dr. Ambedkar Pre matric scholarship scheme.
n. Dr. Ambedkar Post matric scholarship scheme.
o. National Policy on older persons.
And this list goes on and on and on. If I start listing the names of each and every scheme that I went through and type them out there will be at least 50 more schemes/programs/policies which I can state other than the above-mentioned names. And I am being conservative.
Our nation is at a very crucial juncture where after many years of coalition governments we finally have a government at the center which has a majority by itself. To add to that we have a very dynamic and honest Prime Minister who has clearly shown the intention and the required will to bring about change in society. But can development or change be top down? Can India change just because we have an honest and hardworking Prime Minister?
So what is the real problem? Is it bad policies/lack of policies or it is an extremely poor implementation of the already available schemes. If a person spent some time and energy on reading some of the schemes mentioned above they will realize that most of these schemes are quite decent.
It is high time that people and politicians of India change their outlook towards the way in which one achieves development. Governments come and go and what is left at the end of it all is a new bunch of schemes that we can now add to the already large chunk.
Every time I put on the television and watch a news channel debate I see experts coming on TV and giving elaborate gyaan on how X scheme should have Y amendment and that will lead to ABC. If we were to give even 50 % of our time and energy that we spend on formulating new schemes to the basic implementation of the current schemes I can assure you India will get rid of a majority of its problems.
My personal experience of whatever little socio-political work I have done tells me that it is the most basic and mundane things that always matter in life. The citizen is bothered about how long it takes to get a basic service delivered.
If we want to see an India free from poverty, malnutrition etc. we need to start asking ourselves and our governments what they are doing to ensure the implementation of the thousands of schemes available. We need to have a detailed discussion on how can there be a public/private/people partnership in ensuring a sound implementation of schemes/policies of the government.
Yes, there are some good examples here and there like the PDS system in Chattisgarh, The Pradhan Mantri Jana Dhan Yojna or the Mid-Day Meal Scheme which has been implemented by the government in cooperation with groups like Annamarita and Akshay Patra. But how do we ensure that the examples that I have stated above rather than being exceptions become the norm?
If you read this note think about what I am trying to say. Try to put this point in your head and simply analyze how poor implementation affects your own life. Ask yourself how can I help my country the most? Does my duty simply end with voting for x or y party? Can citizens play an active role in the implementation of government policies?Also, do governments sometimes create policies/schemes for ensuring social change or for ensuring that their leader’s names are marketed?
I am not saying that I have pointed out something which no one has ever discussed/thought of before. My point is if we all know what the problem is why are we not doing something about it. This note is my way of saying we need to get our priorities right. What benefits the common man more? I would also like to clarify that when I say implementation is of utmost importance it does not mean that we have all the required schemes and we don’t need any new policies. My point is on the level of attention the two issues deserve. Also, don’t be surprised that by the time you are done reading this note and start thinking about what I have written the government would have come up with yet another new scheme:-)