URJA Editorial February 2017

Focus on Implementing Policies rather than creating new ones

The Master Plan, MPD 2021 for Delhi projects a population of 23 Million (2.3 Crores) inhabitants by 2021. The World Health organisation(WHO) estimates Delhi having already reached a population of 25 Million. This is more than a 100% increase or more than double the population of Delhi in 1990.

As per 2011 Census of Government. Of India, Delhi Population stood at 17 Million (1.7 Crores) in 2011

The Area of Delhi is static at 1483Sq. Km.

The Population density, one of the highest in the world is at about 12,000 /Sq. Km

With East Delhi reaching 30,000/Sq. Km

These are humungous figures whichever source one chooses to believe and are straining the public services on roads, public land, health services, air and water quality, waste disposal, and education to their current limits. We have been unable to shore up municipal revenue, unable to deal with mismanagement of parking, footpaths, road hawking, encroachment on public land and other such challenges of the urban crisis in Delhi.

The Master plan for Delhi and many other policies made by the authorities such as Transit Oriented Development, Parking Management & Pricing policies created by UTTIPEC exist and it is not for us to quibble with them unnecessarily as these are policies made after much deliberation between experts, political executive and officers and are aligned with international best practices as well.

 However, it is evident that the optimum implementation and delivery of these policies has failed. The government does not have the wherewithal, even if it has the intention, to deliver

There is a lack of seriousness and reticence in implementing policies which are in place. The absence of the Government of Delhi from implementation and enforcement is creating serious problems for the city. Failure of implementation is being read as failure of policy itself

  1. The general belief of an inefficient bureaucracy is getting increasingly solidified
  2. The writ of the ‘State’ is being eroded leading to public indiscipline
  3. A natural disaster in Delhi can have terrifying implications

The problem is serious and ignoring such issues have implications of a ‘tipping point’ phenomenon where unbeknownst to us a series of consequences suddenly manifest at the same time leading to an unmanageable situation. We urge the GNCTD as well as the Central Government. to be mindful of this.

URJA has for long advocated a process driven Structured Consultation Mechanism which includes the Local Elected Representative, The Civic Authorities & The RWA. While it is true that local politicians do separately and privately consult their party workers, and a few RWA, there is no process for a structured consultation mechanism. We also advocate training for citizens as well as school going children in disaster response as well as training & protocol to help accident victims

The word ‘consultation’ need not scare the elected representatives and the government. We are clear that the ‘decision’ must be taken by those statutorily empowered or obliged to. Administrative decisions must be taken, only by the Government.  However, a structured process of communication and conversation is a very important tool in keeping a transparent & official record of community inputs. A well-structured and recordable consultation and participation process allows for a sense of community responsibility and ownership of civic works, and reduces resistance that often stems from an inbuilt suspicion of the officialdom & political class. The recent agitation by the traders of Connaught Place on the Vehicle Free Plan of NDMC could easily have been avoided had the Council followed a proper & transparent consultation.

This is not some newfangled idea. Structured and recordable consultative processes are practiced in Europe and the United States as well as African countries. These models are available and have worked for long. The 74th Constitutional amendment also speaks of them in its letter and spirit. For some reason our Governments have kept Delhi’s citizen away from the benefits and ease of governance that naturally follows from such mechanisms.

URJA hopes that the time and the atmosphere is right for our Lt. Governor and our Chief Minister to take note and act on this.

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URJA Editorial January 2017

We wish you a very happy & prosperous new year.
Many older citizen’s reminiscence with nostalgia the glorious days of the full UT of Delhi. Unfortunately, such memories serve no useful purpose. Delhi is a mixed bag that can either become a fine example of how National Capital territory ought to be Governed or it can slide into become becoming an example of how a city can be destroyed.
We are inclined however, to see the glass as half full. At the level of local neighbourhoods, Resident Welfare Associations(RWA), Market Trader Associations(MTA), Citizens’ collectives and several other community groups start the day with much enthusiasm.

There is something about voluntary groups that has a unique energy.
We observe that political change at the helm of Urban administration in big cities has not had much impact in changing the quality of Governance and most citizens have reluctantly come to accept the fact that the enforcement of the rule of law, effective implementation of policies and rules are somewhat alien to our model of Governance and officials will leave people to their own devices till a crisis erupts. The role of the RWA and community groups therefore becomes paramount in such a situation.
Resident welfare Associations remain the most effective and viable bridge between residents and the political representative/ the bureaucracy. For the last decade URJA and our RWA network has demanded laws to regulate as well as empower the RWA to ensure better delivery of services and redressing grievances.
URJA has connected experts and welfare associations and bought them together to address the disconnect between expert formulations and the reality at the electoral booth level. This has been a very useful experience. Our programmes on connecting premier research organisations and think tanks with RWA and local Politicians across Delhi has helped us understand the fault lines and imagine solutions. Urban Planning, Traffic Management, Air Pollution, water harvesting and recycling, Solar Power and Data analysis are disciplines where we have assisted as well as connected institutions with the RWA and Citizens Collectives.
URJA has been asking for a process of a structured, recordable, and regular consultation mechanism to streamline last mile governance. The Ward Committee comprising of the RWA, MTA, Political representatives and officers is an effective first step that should be taken in this direction. Ward committee in each Municipal ward is a sure shot way of immediate transparency and accountability in local administration. The Political class is wary of such initiatives but we are convinced that this must be done and political parties in Delhi must come around and accept it
The National Capital Territory of Delhi has a new Lt Governor. He comes with a lot of administrative experience and knowledge of Delhi. It is hoped that the New Lt. governor as well as the incumbent Chief Minister will work together to tackle urgent and impending issues. URJA will extend its cooperation wherever needed through our members spread across the 272 Municipal wards in Delhi.
We urge the residents of Delhi to involve themselves more proactively in the health of their neighbourhood. If you have a complaint with civic services immediately complain in writing to the concerned department. This is very important. Do involve yourself with your RWA and other social groups to help tackle problems of parking inside colonies, step out and chat with your neighbour, prevent burning of waste and push for segregating and composting, Help and support the young with sports and free play in neighbourhood parks, support community solar power projects and refrain from patronizing illegal commercial enterprises.
For those who want to extend themselves for their neighbourhood there is never a dull moment.
May 2017 bring you Joy.

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RWA should be cautious on the Manifestos of Political Parties for MCD 2017

RWA should be cautious on the Manifestos of Political Parties for MCD 2017

Once again Political parties are out with their manifesto and each section of society offered one thing on the other is examining them with mixed hope and cynicism. Some of these promises simply would not be actioned off as there are no laws to support them.

RWA have on various occasions demanded more accountability from the Officers of the Corporation as well as an increased share of RWA participation in local area decision making. Equally every manifesto before elections, makes it a point to placate the RWA in some way through adding one or two points directed to them.

Let us have a look at some of the points raised by the Major parties(in alphabetical order)

The AAP manifesto promises that payments to contractors will be made after verification by RWA. Such promises have been made before

The AAP says it will consult and take approval of RWA regularly on how councillor funds are to be spent. However, AAP has not done the same with their MLAs. Broadly most elected representatives seek public opinion quietly on what most people want. Seeking popularity is for them the natural thing to do. Getting approval is however, a clever usage of words. Further, This contention would be believable and made sense had they been doing the same with their own MLAs. The other contention that payment would be made after approval of RWA may sound exciting but is unlikely to pass muster. A move like this requires statutory backing, the absence of which will make it a nonstarter.

The BJP has said that monthly meetings with Municipal councillors, Officials & RWA will be held. Beyond that the manifesto offers little and the Councillors meet with RWA regularly Anyway. The BJP had set up ward committees in the erstwhile undivided MCD much to the chagrin of their own Councillors. Subsequently all they have made, is empty promises on RWA participation. Were they to restart the Resident ward committee(RWC) it would be worth congratulating, but from all accounts the centralized nature of BJP’s Governance model seems to militate against this expectation.

The INC has a more detailed Manifesto as compared to other parties. They promise a return of Bhagidari and empowerment of RWA in collecting revenue from parking. While the original Bhagidari was propelled through the then CMs office, this would be a reduced initiative in comparison given the limits imposed on the Municipal corporation.

The Car parking initiative can be path breaking of course, and can be possible through PPP schemes or revenue sharing.

No manifesto mentions anything of the accountability of the officers in the MCD nor does it mention any compensation to the tax payer on deficiency of civic services.

It would not be out of place to mention that URJA has written twice to the Election commission of India on the issue of Political Party Candidate being held to account for promises made in their manifesto and the Hon’ble Supreme court to has made observations on the same.

All said, URJA suggests, that the RWA and their different federations proceed with caution on taking the self-congratulatory path early in the day

That said, URJA will make it a point, to pursue with, whichever party wins, on the promises made to the people of Delhi.

 

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Walking in the Park is not just that simple

The colony park is a very important place. Large parks have a walking track and I go there for a walk in the evening. Sometimes I am accosted by Seniors who love arguments and politics. That is the easy part.

Sometimes one gets tangled with things more difficult than politics.

Here is a sampler. Accents have been neutralized.

Names have been changed, to save my own skin.

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  1. I am walking one evening and Mrs. Chakraborty stops me as a I overtake her after carefully juggling from left to right…..

Me: ‘Good Evening Mam’

Mrs. Chakraborty: ‘Nomoskaar, how is your mother?’

She stops. I stop too.

Me: ‘She is fine mam’

MC: ‘why is she not coming out to walk, is she ok?’

Me: ‘Yes mam, thank you she is Ok, she has been busy’

MC: ‘I asked you about her last time also, did you tell her ?’

Me: ‘No Mam’, I responded, somewhat tentatively, my robustness turning into a cringe. ‘You asked me how she was and I said she was fine.’

By now I am getting the sense that I have done something wrong….

MC: ‘But you should have told her I was asking’

Me: Looking apologetic; ‘Mam, you didn’t say you wanted me to convey anything….’

MC: ‘Of course you should convey that I was asking about her’.  ‘I was hoping you had told her. Very bad this is’.

Me: ‘Sorry mam, will do definitely, ….promise,… as soon as I get home’

So I trailed off and continued on my round. However, I had clearly lost Mrs. Chakraboty’s trust, So when I entered our house, My Mother asked me. ‘Ladies have been asking after me?’.

It is difficult for me to explain that tone. My Mother can say many things in one sentence. It can play out any which way. One has to exercise extreme caution in responding.

Me: Oh ! so Mrs. Chakraborty called you

Mother: ‘of course,’ -With that ‘you think I can depend on you’ look;

Me: Exasperated….But it was not ladies maaaaa…, only Mrs. Chakraborty. That is one lady

Mother: That means several ladies my boy, and you haven’t told me. What sort of public dealing do you do …

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2. This exchange is from around Pooja time

Mr. Sharma, very interesting person. Mercurial, and can shift stands readily. He is also highly adversarial and a very tough one to handle at 70+. Usually he accosts me, this time I had caught up with him to get even.

Me: Sir, I do not understand every year you people make big moorti and pratima of Durga and Ganesh, then you pray to them with such fanfare, then you go dancing to the river on a truck and throw them into the water…Just like that… I don’t understand

Mr. Sharma: ‘Not throw, it is called Visarjan’..

Me: Ya Ya, same thing

MS: It is not same thing’

Me: ‘Why,? you are throwing into river, just giving it a Sanskrit name does not make it any different.’

MS: Dikshit I can’t believe you are saying this, you have no knowledge of why all this is done!!??!!. What sort of a Brahmin are you?

Me: ‘Why?’ I said, clearly intending to provoke him  ‘What is this knowledge? Knowledge knowledge lagaa rakha hai

MS: Arre Kamaal hai, ‘you are childish’, he said, raising his volume ‘Our Rishis were wise. They devised these plans symbolically to explain the passing away and renewal of all things’. or something to that effect.. ‘They made these rituals so that the simple uneducated could understand. Also, they wanted illiterate masses to remember God through these regular rituals’

Me: But we are not simple and uneducated or illiterate masses. So why are we doing this every year in some unthinking haze?

MS: Looking at me most suspiciously ‘Dikshit are you a leftist?’

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Too early to Talk

Too early to talk

Every now and then an article appears by columnists on describing the ongoing conflict between left and right in the social sector as well as in universities and other democratic institutions

Some articles are a passionate expression of feelings with an advice for a sane dialogue between different ideologies and beliefs.

The writers seem to have little direct knowledge of how vicious battles are fought between power hungry contenders & to negotiate between such clashing sides. All they are doing is using these events to vent their ‘feelings’.

A colder& less emotionally involved look is therefore important:

The events we are witnessing are not a battle for freedom of expression & tolerance.

The ongoing conflict is a battle for controlling the structures of power. On one side are people, inside forts, determined to retain their hold, and on the outside, are those who want to wrest control. Expecting a discussion is naive This is a fight between two factions, fueled by greed for power, money, and the trappings it brings. It is not a battle of ideas . Ideas are only being employed as weapons.

Political party cadre traditionally have had access to the spoils of war. Which is why it is the cadre which is at the forefront of all such battles. There are those, who are less obvious in their politics,  but are closely networked and plugged in to the power hierarchy. They too will fight albeit surreptitiously.

‘The idea of India’ is not at stake. At stake is; control over the Bureaucracy, Police,Military, Institutions of learning, Corporate houses, State &International Funding etc, through which money, influence, power, and pleasures are acquired.

This conflict will get more bloody minded, down and dirty and ‘anything goes’ will be employed righteously by both sides. 

At this point of time, lectures on being ‘nice and talk it out’ will not help. This battle will rage for some time. It is only after some of the spoils are re-distributed, will the two sides begin to see any sense in having a conversation. That’s not happening anytime soon.

To those who are in politics and are a part of the political cadre, just go for it! There are returns.

But those who are not, don’t froth too much and don’t mess up your heads over this battle. Most of all, don’t become cannon fodder.

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The Political gamble of demonitisation

I really do not know for sure, how much or in what way, demonetization will affect the economy or black money in the long run. But I do think that The Government of India will not back off from this move. On the contrary it will get even more aggressive on it and other such steps. It will just tweak some operational stuff to ease short term pain.

The National English TV media is not a very good indicator. Political parties, in poll bound states, are careful about how they attack the Government’s move. It is the political units with no stake in the forthcoming elections that are making the most noise. The congress in Punjab has avoided this issue and deftly continued its focus on SYL.

I suspect that the virulence of the opposition attack can also be seen as proportional to their discomfort with the political advantage the BJP can garner from this move. AAP will be particularly negatively affected as its vote bank is not caste or religion based and this move of the Centre may appeal to poorer sections of society that are angry at being left out of the benefits of economic growth. Worse, AAP woke up somewhat after congress workers started assisting people in long queues with water and tea etc.  Maken was quicker than Kejriwal in seeing that ‘on street’ advantage. There are murmurs that the poorer residents of the city are ‘not that angry’.

In a few days the people will forget the discomfort that they are currently going through and will remember this as a decisive move by Narendra Modi, against black money held by the rich. It is a big bold gamble NaMo has taken but a lot will depend on the BJP’s state units in the coming elections.

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Union of India Vs Aedes Aegypti & Ors

Today’s newspapers carried pictures of friendly politicians beaming into cameras with their colleagues from opposition parties. Jointly they will fight the scourge they claimed. Sorry to burst your bubble friends, but all politicians jointly trying to fight the armies of Aedes mosquito is akin to a group of sulking colleagues holding hands and shouting slogans in front of a battle tank.

For almost a decade the Government of NCT of Delhi has tried to contain this menace but failed. For almost the same time the politicians have promised that they will do all they can and promised to do it. They too have failed.

It can be believed, given the benefit of doubt, that the Delhi Administration is genuinely interested in fixing this problem. It can also be confirmed that they will fail. They do not have the army required to fight this menace

The Garbage situation in the city though unconnected with the Aedes mosquito is in a similar phase. The Government does not have the wherewithal, expertise or the gumption to fix it. At best the three Municipalities can pull out a global tender and ask a big concessionaire to carry away the waste. That too will fail. Despite it being the Prime Minister’s initiative, despite the Municipal solid Waste rules being notified, despite everybody paying lip service to swachhta and despite the big ads not a single municipal ward out of the total 272 in Delhi has been able to segregate and compost its waste. Big talk, zilch delivery

It is no longer a question of the Government’s intent or of that inexplicable expression ‘political will’ it simply means that the Government and the Political leadership are incapable of dealing with these crises even if they want to. They just don’t know how to.

The problems are so widespread that they require an unprecedented and extensive mobilization of local communities, school children, teachers, doctors and NGOs at the ‘every colony and block’ level to achieve any significant result.

The RWAs of Delhi, which form the key elements of last mile governance, have repeatedly asked the Government and Municipal corporations to deal directly with the RWA at the ground level with support to mobilize volunteers, local activists, experts & doctors at the local community level. All requests have fallen on deaf ears. The Bureaucracy hides behind ‘busy in meeting ’and ‘gate passes’ kind of distancing and the politician just does not know what to do. All he is certain of is; that no empowerment should happen further down the food chain.

The residents are miffed that all sorts of taxes and cess are collected from them, all sorts of central funds are allocated but not a single penny seems to be coming down to the last mile for fixing health and sanitation challenges of the most basic kind

The Government, at the centre and state (regardless of political party) will have to work with the RWA of Delhi to even begin to make a dent. Without the RWA the Government does not stand a chance. Not at least with waste and mosquitoes.

15th Sept 2016

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ज़रुरत में गधे को बाप बनाना

“zaroorat mein gadhe ko baap banana”( ज़रुरत में गधे को बाप बनाना)

This is a peculiar Indian Idiom. I have researched much but not found a similar saying in other parts of the world. I have come across literature where ‘making a donkey out of your father’ is practiced by some rascals , but ‘Making a donkey your father’ is like taking it to another level altogether, and is nowhere to be found except in India

I have been reflecting much upon this. I have been thinking, if this is what we have been doing for very long in the past, that has gotten us where we are. I mean the total collapse of urban infrastructure, traffic,health services and the environment. And this is not about politicians so nobody need get all pompous, petulant and upset. I am like talking generally about society.

Now giving Maan Sammaan (मान सम्मान) is a part of our culture, we touch feet, we supplicate, we venerate and we do chamchagiri(चमचागिरी), but I suspect that the long term effect of several people doing all this, by making Several Donkeys their Fathers, is now taking its toll.

We need a new strategy (or would it be a new narrative?) where donkeys are required to be positioned differently in our lives.

 

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The changing dynamics of global conflicts and Kashmiri youth

There is much debate on Kashmir, post the killing of the Kashmiri Youth Burhan Wani by the security forces. As each one in India takes stated positions and remains locked there we forget that the worldwide dynamics is different and extends beyond just the regular bhakt and liberal kind of spats that Indians indulge in on twitter and Fb.
One has to view the power dynamics in a globally connected world differently and beyond JNU –ABVP limited student politics. Kashmir is only a minor sub- construct, albeit closer.

Islamic militants, Taliban, ISIS, Al Qaeda etc, Communists, left intellectuals & Academics, are now a network within and cutting across pre-existing organised states and militaries. There are shades of course, but broadly this is the network that is pitted against the status quo of Elected Democratic Governments, Economies and Military in the West and in Asia. This network is in some cases highly organised and connected and in other cases loosely linked but broadly they are in the business of disrupting the current structures of organised state power (or take advantage of it if they can). They have sympathizers in the media and politics who are on the safer side of this combine with hard core Islamic militants comprising the other far end.

The internet and rapid connectivity allows this network to operate within states with militant cells and intellectual justifiers.

Conventional politics and state armed forces cannot easily take on this combine because it is everywhere in different forms. Except in China & Israel which will brutally shut them down, this ‘network’ operates in Islamic countries through religious groups and has the capacity to strike violently within, and does the same through militant sleeper cells in Non Islamic democracies in Europe, Africa and Asia as well. The Left offers justification for their actions as a legitimate act of counter violence to past wrongs

There are some Hindu and Christian militia in India and in U.S perhaps but they are toddlers in comparison, and neither have the weaponry, the explosive guerrilla warfare capacity of Islamic militants nor do they have the Left’s depth of reasoning and intellectual capacity to secure intellectual legitimacy for their  little ‘brigades & senas’. The Hindu right is troublesome indeed and has the potential to be a violent mob but it is led by petty ‘goondaas‘ who can be straightened in a local thana under an unfriendly political dispensation. They do not have the strategic depth of Islamic militancy nor support from the ‘intellectual class’

Which side is right or justified? The democratically elected ‘State’ or the’ Non State’ with its sense of being disenfranchised is irrelevant. What is relevant is that the conventional dynamics of conflict has changed and it will be interesting to watch in the future where this disruption leads.

Insofar as Kashmir is concerned it will remain in the place it is. No mainstream political party in India will offer self determination to Kashmir. Left leaning groups will escalate or reduce their criticism of the Government of India depending solely on the politics of which dispensation is in power and on China’s position on Indo Pak relations.

In Pakistan too, no party or their Army will change their stance and will keep on demanding Kashmiri territory for themselves while maintaining support to militancy and terrorist attacks in India which they can and do at will.

Kashmir will remain a theatre of conflict for some years, boiling at times and simmering at some.

For the kashmiri youth, there is little hope. Their violence will be romanticized by vested interests in India and In Pakistan. They will likely fail to see much viable interest other than an ordinary job, hatred for India and a sort of fairy tale attachment to Pakistan and the Arab world. Some with ambition will migrate out of the valley to India, the Emirates or to the west, for the rest there is not much.

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Smart Politics Vs Smart Administration for Delhi

The Chief Minister of Delhi has come out with the State of Delhi Bill, 2016. This 18-page document places the Police, the Municipalities and the DDA under the Government of the State of Delhi. The Chief Minister promises a sea change in Delhi through its application. Similar demands have been made by other Chief Ministers of Delhi in the past

There are also demands that Delhi is best served by reverting to its Union territory status and placed under the charge of the Lt. Governor, who will represent the overwhelming power of the Government of India. There will be no significant elected representatives and the LG will be free to act through his officers.

On the other hand, there is a belief that Delhi (Barring the NDMC area & The Cantonment) being placed fully under a state Government of elected representatives in charge of PWD, Police, MCD, water & other services will be more effective. This would be like Governments in, U.P, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, and Tamil Nadu, Punjab etc.

Besides this there are believers that status quo be maintained.

In the meantime, no one in Delhi is clear which officer or department is responsible for preventing encroachments on roads, illegal construction, broken footpaths, vending zones, & solid waste management in colonies.  People are unclear as to who to complain to if sewers mix with storm water drains, the Police does not lodge FIRs, Ambulances do not reach in time, Stray dogs bite children, or what to do if trees are creeping into residences, monkeys take their clothes and people defecate on their boundary wall.

Our entire discourse and debate is centered on politics.  People enjoy these mudslinging debates even as they themselves suffer and the city of Delhi reaches a tipping point from where no return would be possible.

 In this piece I argue that we have sufficient democratic representation, participation & accountability in politics but have an underdeveloped administrative system which is obsolete, unaccountable and inefficient. It will not be able to deliver the promises made by any Government

Democratic State and Administration

India and its states are governed and administrated by a permanent bureaucracy, police, and tax, military and judicial administration that a political party temporarily presides upon. It has to be understood that a Democracy, a Dictatorship, a Theocracy or a Communist country can all be different ways in which people are collectively organised as a ‘State’ but it’s ‘administration’ is an altogether different matter

 Delhi has a democratically elected State government which presides upon some administrative functions; it has a democratically elected Municipality; And a democratically elected Political party at the Centre which presides upon the Police and parts of the state’s administration through the Lt. Governor

Delhi’s problem however, stem from the absence of a responsive, honest and efficient administration, not less democracy in its political structure.

Delhi’s citizen needs to know the Government department responsible for each service and wants to know which officer is to be held responsible for dereliction of duty and the compensation to the citizen for deficiency in services. The city does not care if the Police or MCD is under the charge of the LG or the CM as long as they do their job in an efficient, responsible and honest manner.

Why have Governments failed to deliver on promises; Explaining administration & Multiplicity of Authorities

India and Delhi is administered through its Bureaucracy, Police and Judicial administration which was originally established by the British colonial Rulers to serve the ends of an imperial colonising power. This colonial construct of the bureaucracy continues to this day. Citizens approach officers with servility, sycophancy and salaam. This is openly visible in any office.

There will be several different departments that are required to undertake tasks and deliver on the Political mandate of the ruling party  or address the needs of Citizens. The State therefore will operate through multiple authorities.

The problem however is not the ‘multiplicity of authority’ but the ‘opacity’, ‘un-accountability’ and ‘obsolescence’ with which each authority functions.

And that The members of civil service serve at the pleasure of the President of India and Article 311 of the constitution protects them in such a manner that their removal from services is very difficult. The Government of India Act 1935 profoundly affected the constitution in terms of the civil Services which were virtually maintained as a continuation of the British colonial administration. The underpinnings of the bureaucracy remain remains anonymity, permanency and constitutional protection.

Each department can escape its responsibility since

  1. The duties assigned to each officer and each department is not known to the public and cannot be known at all even if it wanted. Anonymity is built into the scheme of things as it were.
  2. The responsibilities are divided over many officers and departments so no one in particular is responsible. This allows the officials to put the citizen in a ‘back and forth’ trap where he will go from one department to the other and back to the same or into a ‘circular trap’ where he will be sent off to one department after the other. Since there is no punishment for delay or misleading the citizen, this can go on till he is forced to compromise and submit to this system. A complaint against the officer is of little use as the system is designed to protect each other. The chance of a grievance being rectified is very low. Moving the court does not help much as the judicial administration is archaic and slow.

What has to be understood very clearly without any confusion is that it is the Department in the Government that is meant to address your problems and it is the officers serving there on salaries and perks that are expected to perform these duties to deliver the service to you.

Instead Indians have been falsely made to believe that it is your elected representative who is responsible. This is delusional, and causes voters to repeatedly direct their anger at the elected representative while the real culprit goes stock free and continues to get his paycheck, perks and will get a pension too. Every election we change our representative to rule over the same inefficient mechanism.

Your elected representatives face the same problem so why have elected leaders and the parliament not changed the bureaucracy?

The Nature of bureaucracy demands a degree of permanency of jobs or tenured positions for Government officials. This is a worldwide phenomenon and with good reason and intent. However other countries have managed to modernise and reform the bureaucracy  such that its efficiency has improved as compared to India which retains its colonial and feudal ruling ethos. As a result any political party, once it comes to power, uses the same bureaucratic instruments to ride roughshod over and manipulate the people as the preceding one did.

The courts too belong to the same archaic system and have not helped in clearing the air.

Take for instance this Judgment of the Hon’ble High court of Delhi in -MANUSHI SANGATHAN, DELHI Petitioner, versus GOVT OF DELHI & ORS. Respondents CM APPL.9308/2015 in W.P. (C) 4572/2007

The matter pertains to the municipal corporation being asked to remove encroachments and their plea that the Municipality was not responsible for clearing encroachments

……….‘The application seeks modification of the order of 30th April, 2015 by which certain encroachments in the main Chandni Chowk carriage way were directed to be removed in a time bound manner. North Delhi Municipal Corporation relies upon orders of the Principal Secretary (Urban Development) of the GNCTD dated 10.01.2012 and 24.02.2012 to say that the title in the roads now vests with the GNCTD. In terms of Section 298 of the Delhi Municipal Corporation Act, the title in all public streets and roads vests with the concerned Municipal Corporation. In the circumstances, the relief claimed cannot be granted. However, all authorities including the GNCTD are directed to cooperate in the execution of order dated 30th April, 2015. A compliance report shall be filed within two months…………”

 The Hon’ble Court, after clarifying, that it is indeed the municipality that is the owner of all roads and streets proceeds to direct all departments to cooperate. This leaves things unclear. It is not clarified if a particular department is meant to carry out clear orders or not meant to carry them out. How will the person responsible be identified in the midst of this collective responsibility of half a dozen departments assigned the same job? How will cooperation be measured? Who will be penalized on failure? No wonder that illegal encroachments remain unchecked in Delhi. The honorable courts have lectured much & passed many judgments but have not penalized any Government department or officer for illegal occupation of public spaces by unscrupulous elements.

Politics has reached its peak levels and can deliver nothing more to take us to the next level of efficient Governance

 The current CM of Delhi will not be in a better position than the CM of U.P, Bihar or West Bengal. Whether or not Delhi has full statehood does not make any difference

We are facing an administrative crisis; what should be done?

We have been busy focusing on democratic processes without paying adequate attention to administrative mechanisms. We have enjoyed changing politicians, got youth to vote and taken voting percentages to some of the highest in the world. We are replacing one driver after another for a damaged car in the hope of reaching our destination. Representative democracy has limits to the purpose it can serve in governance. Enhancing representation and participation alone will serve no purpose if the administrative arms are rickety & in a perennial state of uncertainty about their role. We remain burdened with a predominantly unreformed Bureaucracy of Administrators, Police, UDCs, LDCs, Constables and peons. The Administrative mechanism is archaic. That is the problem and not statehood or UT.

It is in turning our attention away from puerile politics and focusing it on the bureaucracy will we strengthen the administration.

Civil society groups & particularly the Resident Welfare Associations(RWA) must take note of this. As critical elements of Last Mile Governance the RWA should escalate the demand for the implementation of bureaucratic and police reforms. Civil society groups concerned with public policy and governance, and the RWA should:

  1. Demand the implementation of the accepted recommendations of the Administrative reforms commission- Reference  ARC 12th report on Citizen Centric Governance*
  2. Demand the implementation of the Supreme courts directives on Police reforms*
  3. Demand that the Results Framework document of the PMD, Cabinet Secretariat (RFD) be modified and extended to all government departments in Delhi and amend it to ensure that it is not manipulated by officers such to shrug off responsibility for their actions. In its current form the RFD is not worthwhile.
  4. Demand that the Lt. Governor and the Chief Minister of Delhi Publicly clarify the role of each government department in Delhi and identify to the public the officer punishable for dereliction of duty.

Refrences & further reading

*THE SEVEN DIRECTIVES FOR POLICE REFORMS-IN A NUTSHELL

Directive One: Constitute a State Security Commission (SSC) to: (i) Ensure that the state government does not exercise unwarranted influence or pressure on the police (ii) Lay down broad policy guideline and (iii) Evaluate the performance of the state police

 Directive Two: Ensure that the DGP is appointed through merit based transparent process and secure a minimum tenure of two years

Directive Three: Ensure that other police officers on operational duties (including Superintendents of Police in-charge of a district and Station House Officers in-charge of a police station) are also provided a minimum tenure of two years

Directive Four: Separate the investigation and law and order functions of the police

Directive Five: Set up a Police Establishment Board (PEB) to decide transfers, postings, promotions and other service related matters of police officers of and below the rank of Deputy Superintendent of Police and make recommendations on postings and transfers above the rank of Deputy Superintendent of Police

Directive Six: Set up a Police Complaints Authority (PCA) at state level to inquire into public complaints against police officers of and above the rank of Deputy Superintendent of Police in cases of serious misconduct, including custodial death, grievous hurt, or rape in police custody and at district levels to inquire into public complaints against the police personnel below the rank of Deputy Superintendent of Police in cases of serious misconduct

Directive Seven: Set up a National Security Commission (NSC) at the union level to prepare a panel for selection and placement of Chiefs of the Central Police Organisations (CPO) with a minimum tenure of two years.

(Extract CHRI- http://www.humanrightsinitiative.org)

 http://www.businesstoday.in/magazine/cover-story/prajapati-trivedi-on-need-of-economic-business-reforms/story/213481.html

STATE OF POLICING AND LAW & ORDER IN Delhi- Praja.org

http://www.performance.gov.in/?q=rfd-menu

http://bprd.nic.in/writereaddata/linkimages/1424233217-delhi-police.pdf

http://www.delhi.gov.in/wps/wcm/connect/DoIT_AR/administrative+reforms/home/circulars+and+orders/miscellaneous+circulars/reports+issued+by+second+administrative+reforms+commissioner

http://arc.gov.in/arc_12th_report/arc_12th_Report.pdf- Citizen Centric Administration

http://arc.gov.in/15threport.pdf

U.S Bureaucracy- http://www.nber.org/chapters/c8632.pdf

 

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