Times of India, February 11, 2020
By Pradeep S Mehta
In the ensuing budget, the state does not have the desired resources to do all what people would like it to do. Hence, it is important for the government to communicate to people what it plans to do and how it will impact their lives.
First of all it must tell people that in the 150th year of Gandhi it will follow his talisman of looking for the face of the poorest woman in the state to check whether their decisions will benefit her. Secondly, the government must communicate to people in the following six areas, which are causing huge concern to people:
Job creation: How many jobs will be created in both the formal and non-formal sector by its budgetary exercise. Closer attention will need to be paid to rural non-farm sectors, so that urban migration is arrested.
Enabling environment: The business environment must be improved drastically hence the need to determine ease of running (not just doing) a business by cutting out red tape and unnecessary transaction costs. But business needs to respect workers’ rights so that they become good consumers.
Human capital: This concerns the whole population and covers education, health, nutrition etc. Mission mode must be adopted to address each of these areas and their sub areas. For example, in education, strengthening capacity of teachers at the panchayat level to enable good learning outcomes.
Addressing the drawbacks in the PPP projects on primary health care and why they have not succeeded. Address road safety deficit, which costs 3-4% of the state GDP, by doing awareness coupled with education of drivers, and expanding the traffic police strength. To ensure that children are able to get protein-rich food or supplements to enable their healthy growth.
Governance: To improve governance in all areas of administration by improving accountability mechanisms. Large number of maladministration cases by incompetent babus cause much of the setbacks to the good intents of the government. There is no disincentive for them to not do so.
Implementation audits: Large number of complaints come from people that the project or scheme is not being implemented properly. For example, the
Right to Education Act has not been able to meet its objectives of ensuring good education to poor kids. Similarly there are many schemes and policies of the government which should be reviewed through public participation.
State-federal relations: In light of the current political scenario in the country state-union relations are being strained in many ways which impact people directly and indirectly. Social instability is one major factor. But if one looks at the Constitution and its coverage of the topic, the state could draft its own education policy. It should do it. It can develop its own business promotion policy which would be an amalgam of industrial policy, trade policy and competition policy.
In conclusion that state must ensure a ‘whole-of-government’ approach in its implementation strategies. Working in silos, various branches of the government end up harming the good work being done by others.
(The writer is secretary general, CUTS International, a public policy research and advocacy group. Views expressed in the article are personal)
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