THE CONTEXT: The current dispensation of governance is based on Minimum Government – Maximum Governance. The relation between citizen and government in the social contract is based on Trust. And this is based on the strong foundation of the Good Governance. It is imperative for civil society, non-profits, and public officials to introduce citizen experience-based systemic measures in advocacy campaigns for improved public welfare access to vulnerable citizens.
CONCEPT OF CITIZEN CENTRIC ADMINISTRATION
Good governance aims at providing an environment in which all citizens irrespective of class, caste and gender can develop to their full potential. In addition, good governance also aims at providing public services effectively, efficiently and equitably to the citizens.
The 4 pillars on which the edifice of good governance rests, in essence are:
- Ethos (of service to the citizen),
- Ethics (honesty, integrity and transparency),
- Equity (treating all citizens alike with empathy for the weaker sections), and
- Efficiency (speedy and effective delivery of service without harassment and using ICT increasingly).
Citizens are thus at the core of good governance. Therefore, good governance and citizen centric administration are inextricably linked.
To Make the Administration more Citizen-Centric, the 2nd ARC has examined the following strategies, processes, tools, and mechanisms.
1. Re-engineering processes to make Governance ‘citizen-centric’.
2. Adoption of Appropriate Modern Technology
3. Right to Information
4. Citizens Charters
5. Independent Evaluation of Services.
6. Grievance Redressal Mechanisms
7. Active Citizens Participation – Public-Private Partnerships
Various steps has been taken to improve the citizen centricity in the welfare works like- e-governance, RTI, social audits, self-attesting of documents, citizen charters etc. However there has been issues that affect the citizen centricity in the administration.
ISSUES IN CITIZEN-CENTRIC GOVERNANCE
Burden of proof: Due to increase in the documentation requirement in availing the government services and benefits of the welfare programme, there oi shifting away from the citizen centricity in the governance.
E.g. Eligibility for subsidised ration, scholarships, maternity benefits, and so on. The burden of proof of proving their eligibility makes them run around government offices, touts, cyber cafes, common service centres (CSCs), panchayat or nagar nigam offices, and so on. The time and money spent by India’s poor either overshoots or constitutes a considerable percentage of the promised public welfare benefits.
ATTITUDINAL PROBLEMS OF THE CIVIL SERVANTS:
- There is issue of the bureaucratic apathy toward the citizen. Issues of arm chair bureaucracy affect the citizen oriented policies in the governance. Also, their attitude is one of indifference and insensitivity to the needs of citizens. is, coupled with the enormous asymmetry in the wielding of power at all levels, has further aggravated the situation.
- A common reason usually cited for inefficiency in governance is the inability within the system to hold the Civil Services accountable for their actions.
E-governance was adopted to create ‘Simple, Moral, Accountable, Responsive and Transparent (SMART) governance. The purpose of implementing e-Governance is to improve governance processes and outcomes with a view to improving the delivery of public services to citizens. Past experiences demonstrate how the promises of digitisation are closely accompanied by a variety of risks to citizens.
- Digitising welfare payments through the Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) system reduced widespread leakages in physical cash distribution systems.
- Multiple state governments have deployed digital platforms for social protection that allow citizens to access welfare schemes from different government departments through a single window.
- E.g. Samagra platform in Madhya Pradesh and Jan Aadhaar system in Rajasthan
- Data protection concerns arose from the need to collect and store Aadhaar numbers and banking information.
- Issues of uneasiness with which citizens access social protection benefits through digital paltforms.
○ E.g. due to digital divide, lack of digital infrastructure etc
THE WAY FORWARD:
E-Governance has to be comprehensive; mere introduction of the IT component is not an end in itself. Comprehensive e-Governance reforms cover
1. the process,
2. preparedness and the technology
3. and the people.
Introduction of e-Governance needs process engineering as the first step. The technology and the hardware and software come second, only after the processes have been re-engineered. And ultimately, in order to make the reforms sustainable the people in the concerned departments/agencies have to internalize the changes.
Research suggests that by being inclusive for the most marginalised, protecting the vast swathes of personal data collected from citizens, enhancing the ease with which citizens access social protection benefits and instituting accountability measures, Digital initiatives can become citizen centric.
ISSUES IN THE RTI
The act was legislated in a positive spirit; as an instrument for improving Government – citizen interface resulting in a friendly, caring and effective Government functioning for the good of our people. However these has been issues that can be categorised in demand and supply side issues.
DEMAND SIDE ISSUES
- Low public awareness- awareness level among women was found to be low in comparison to men. The difference in awareness level between women and men ranged from 9% to 20%
- Constraints faced in filing applications: Appropriate Governments and the Public Authorities have taken inadequate steps to make the RTI process citizen friendly. The process of RTI application submission has not been designed keeping in view the needs and convenience of the citizens.
- Poor quality of information provided.
SUPPLY SIDE ISSUES
- Failure to provide information within 30 days.
- Inadequate trained PIOs and First Appellate Authorities
- Obsolete record management Guidelines
- Non-availability of basic Infrastructure
- Ineffective implementation of Section 4(1) (b) : As per the Act, one of the basic responsibilities of the Public Authorities (PAs) is to disseminate information on suo-moto basis. However, there is no/ inadequate mechanism within the Public Authorities to implement the provisions of the Act
Issues in the Citizen charter: Lack of awareness and knowledge and inadequate publicity, hence loss of trust among service seekers, No training to the operative and supervisory staff, Lack of infrastructure and initiative, Hierarchy gap between the Officers and the Operative Staff. complicated and restrictive rules & procedures. Further, there is no Grievance Redressal of the violation of the citizen charter.
Issues of Corruption: The causes of corruption in India include excessive regulations, complicated tax and licensing systems, numerous government departments with opaque bureaucracy and discretionary powers, monopoly of government-controlled institutions on certain goods and services delivery, and the lack of transparent laws and processes.
Lack of Citizen Centricity in Gram Panchayat: Various issue faced in the Gram panchayat is lack of effective women participation, bureaucratisation in the local panchayat, the problem of fund, function and functionaries etc affected the optimum functioning working and citizen centric governance.
Indian case study
Odisha’s KALIA programme: Databases of different social security programmes has been integrated in Odisha’s KALIA programme to ensure minimal citizen travel to the frontline or mediation offices.
KARNATAKA SAKALA SERVICES ACT, 2011 AND (AMENDMENT) ACT, 2014: A Bill has been passed by the Karnataka State Legislature to provide guarantee of services to citizens in the State of Karnataka within the stipulated time limit and for matters connected therewith and incidental thereto. This Act is called the Karnataka Guarantee of Services to Citizens Act, 2011.
Grievance Redressal Mechanism: Mo Sarkar is a feedback based-governance model as part of which the CM, ministers and senior officials seek the feedback of people directly over phone about the kind of services they receive from various government offices. Based on their feedback, the state government takes the necessary steps to improve its service delivery system. As many as 31 departments, including that of finance, works and commerce and transport, have been covered under the purview of Mo Sarkar.
Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Programme benefits in the United States, the White House has adopted the ‘administrative burden’ framework to address citizen experience pain points through an executive order a council to deploy a life experience framework as a strategy to improve federal service delivery to enhance citizen experience of application, documentation and benefits access. The life experience framework draws from a human-centred design-based methodology.
THE WAY FORWARD
- Firstly, ease access to key eligibility documents such as income and caste certificates, and residence proofs (especially for migrants).
- Secondly, on the technology front, the focus must be on the user experience of dealing with digital interfaces and portals. This involves streamlining user interface designs, training frontline officials, and integrating the databases of different social security programmes to ensure minimal citizen travel to the frontline or mediation offices. In addition, the government should make itself accountable for wait time, costs and procedural delays affecting citizens.
- Thirdly, the State must begin a renewed focus on easing welfare access rules, quality of awareness programmes and a seamless grievance redressal process to communicate rules and processes of access.
THE CONCLUSION: 2nd ARC report in its 12th Report (Citizen Centric Administration-The Heart of Governance) has recommended Making Citizens Charter Effective, Seven-Step Model for Citizen Centricity, Participation of Women and the Physically Challenged, Evolving an Effective Public Grievances Redressal System, Analysis and Identification of Grievance Prone Areas, Simplifying Internal Procedures, Monitoring and Evaluation, Rationalizing Procedures – Issue of Driving Licenses, registration of Births and Deaths Building Licenses and Completion Certificate for Citizen centric governance. It should be implemented in letter and spirit for strengthening the social contract.
1. What are the steps needed to Strengthen citizen centricity in the implementation of welfare programmes?
2. Analyse the various initiatives for the good governance in India.