IASbhai Daily Editorial Hunt | 12th Jan
“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” —Thomas A. Edison
EDITORIAL HUNT #312 :“Dialogue and Deliberations in Democracy | UPSC”
Sakina Dhorajiwala is a Researcher with LibTech India. Purna Chandra Kishan is Secretary, Rural Development and Commissioner MGNREGA, Rajasthan.
Dialogues for democracy, lessons from Rajasthan
Federalism and good governance need engagement between people and officials, as the MGNREGA programme shows
SYLLABUS COVERED: GS 2 : Governance
Very often, policy makers ignore the need for dialogue and deliberation with beneficiaries.Comment -(GS 2)
- Importance of Consultation,Dialogues and Deliberation
- Case Study : MGNREGA in Rajasthan
- CONSULTATION : Leaving aside the merits and demerits of the laws, many are aggrieved about the process of promulgation of the laws as it lacked any consultation with those that the laws are purportedly meant to serve.
- DIALOGIC EXERCISES : Consultations are needed during the initial stages of law making of a government programme as much as a continuous dialogic exercise must be the norm for effective programme implementation.
- POLICY IMPLEMENTATION : Even when policies are anchored in good principles, their implementation is often messy and requires iterations based on people’s concerns.
- CHECKS AND BALANCES : In particular, redistributive, people-facing welfare policies need constant feedback.
CASE STUDY : MGNREGA IN RAJASTHAN
- CONSULTATION : Rajasthan has a healthy tradition of consulting with worker groups and civil society organisations.
- COURSE CORRECTIONS : In the initial stage of policy formulation of MGNREGA as well as at a later stage of continuous feedback from the field and carry out periodic midway course corrections.
- ENGAGEMENT : In the case of MGNREGA, engagement with civil society organisations had been institutionalised in the MGNREGA samvads.
- DIRECT TRANFER AND PITFALLS : While there is a case to be made for direct transfers, this system is not without its pitfalls. An overreliance on the technical architecture of MGNREGA has subverted workers’ rights.
- KNOCKING THE DOORS : The troubles are compounded when things go wrong as workers run from pillar to post knocking on the doors of various government officials, banks, payment disbursement agencies, panchayat officials, etc.
ISSUE OF PAYMENT REJECTIONS
- CHEQUE BOUNCE : One such vexing problem is that of payment rejections which are like bounced cheques.
- TECHNICAL LAGS : These occur when the government initiates the payment, but money does not get credited due to technical issues.
- COLLECTING CASH IS DIFFICULT : Workers are bereft of their own money unless the core underlying problems are successfully addressed.
- DORMANT ACCOUNTS : At other times, banks consider accounts as ‘dormant’ when the accounts are not used for some time.
- INACTIVE AADHAAR : While these are somewhat tractable, a very common rejection reason called ‘Inactive Aadhaar’ is more complex to resolve.
- BROKEN ACCOUNTS : This happens when the linkage of the worker’s Aadhaar and their bank account is broken in the software maintained by the NPCI.
- LONG WAIT HOURS : Short-staffed and overcrowded banks mean that workers have to make multiple trips to banks only to be told rudely that their ‘payments have not come’.
- DISGUISED OPINIONS : Field officials often resort to temporary and incorrect quick fixes which backfire leaving the workers in an abyss.
GUIDELINES AFTER A WORKSHOP
- RESOLVING PAYMENTS : To resolve payment rejections, the Department of Rural Development of the Government of Rajasthan has held numerous discussions.
- CONSEQUENCES : These resulted in a workshop involving worker groups and civil society organisations who interacted directly with the aggrieved workers, administrative officers from the village level to the State level, and bankers.
- DISTRIBUTION OF RESPONSIBILITIES : As the dialogue evolved, detailed guidelines were issued with well-defined responsibility, clear timelines, and monitoring and protocols to be followed by officials.
- RESOLUTION : In a period of one year from the workshop, the Rajasthan government was able to clear ₹380 crore worth of payments to workers that were earlier stuck due to rejections.
- RIGHT TO INFORMATION : The Right to Information (RTI) Act that had its origins in people’s movements in Rajasthan, mandated proactive disclosure of information.
- CO OPERATIVE FEDERALISM : Federalism and good governance require constant constructive engagement between people and officials.
The American civil rights activist Jesse Jackson said, ‘Deliberation and debate is the way you stir the soul of our democracy.’