Saturday, October 12, 2013

Why Government Schemes Fail?

All claims of 'development' by government appear to be a hoax ...obviously ! Because we always see huge margin of difference between announcement and implementation. Let us redefine government for our own understanding. It is a crucible of interest groups, rather than a black box of noble intentions. So, the responsibility of failure of schemes lie with various stakeholders in the development process.

Growth can never be inorganic and the system needs to learn before they grow. Now replace ‘system’ with ‘welfare scheme’. Example: Gradual improvement (IRDP - SGSY - NRLM) is better approach for development. Not all schemes are so much lucky. They are renamed and often termed as 'old wine in new bottle'. Sometimes if any scheme is a completely prone to the corruption, we have hinged for its immense benefit to power holders. Bad schemes is like giving perpetual gifts that has made people into beggars rather than partners. India's government programmes are riddled with corruption and leakage. The main source of corruption arises from the identification of beneficiaries. Identification is not a statistical exercise, but is a major political activity. Nitin Pai has written an article focusing on this issue only - Where are the Poor?.

Rajiv Gandhi’s famous and oft-quoted statement that out of every Rs 1 spent on development only 15 paisa reaches the poor. Monitoring and Evaluation is often the weakest part of the chain of the schemes. Officials are getting salary for what they are supposed to serving the people. They get away clean either with not doing anything at all or doing with bribes. This is the most damaging aspect of the government jobs. Even harsh reviews and suspension does not mean anything to them.

Unused knowledge is a buried treasure. Government officials at block levels have brilliant expertise but they rarely display an ounce of integrity. The block level officials and extension workers are inadequately available and most of the posts were vacant. So, the staff is always overburdened by additional charges. None of govt official will talk openly of their exasperation with the stiff deadlines. But off the record, most are forthcoming. And, their feedback is rarely taken serious. There is also lack of specialization at the top level of bureaucracy. Same officer can look sports affairs with equal expertise as livelihood ! Such is the way of functioning government. This system has began to change positively from the last 10-15 years with the incoming flux of new officers.

The reformers calling for heads of government servants and public representatives are not free from all blame. I will not give detail here in the corrupt practices of NGO sector but will take a dig on activist mode workers. Most of the activist are either committed right Swadeshi or a leftist social workers . They are staunch and passionate persons who are anti-globalization, anti- market and assumed that all decisions however big or small had to be taken in GramSabhas and will turn up invariably the right ones. Hence, not all feasible solutions are put on table and negotiation becomes ideological battleground.

Poor can not be served poorly; Government must stop thinking that PRI as low-cost and voluntary. People’s Participation for Empowerment and Good Governance may sound like a jargon in the reading but it is not. It is a simple process of taking voice of an important stakeholder i.e. public. There will be corruption in the early years, but surely spread of awareness will happen in upcoming years.

The hunger and poverty that one sees all around must be tackled with better designed scheme. Structural transformations at the top to allow local actors to participate with their potential is required. We must focus on convergence of existing schemes of the government rather than launching new schemes. Only then, we can roll back redundant schemes and put in their what is required. Even we got a new scheme. "The Implementation Part" is key to measure any success of intervention rather than allocation of fund. I will leave readers with quote by Pratap Bhanu Mehta, president, Centre for Policy Research, Delhi in his article "The contractor state": The government of India is a government of contractors, by contractors, for contractors.

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This Blog is meant purely as a personal diary of a rural manager in making. It exists to record information, experiences and opinions about various issues encountered in the line of duty. Any person, institution and organization mentioned here doesn't assume any liability for its contents. This is not a deliberate attempt to defame anyone. And if you have actually read all that is written in the blog and aren't mad at me, then thanks for your time and patience !

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