It will appear that when it comes to development and inclusive growth, there is a penchant for endless debate and planning committees. Yet, we all know that they will add nothing significant to the body of ideas already generated in various forums on how best to fast-track India’s development and growth process.
Commitment is translated into every department and ministry literally ‘doing their own thing’. This silo approach is costing us dearly: the poor pace of results on the ground does not justify the growing budgets. In the space of financial inclusion, we are still debating the business model, the delivery model and the technology even as projects are running on the ground, some quite successfully. Additionally, we are debating the merits and ethics of who can provide banking services.
It is time to adopt a ‘last mile’ perspective, for that is where we have to reach. Similarly, the National e-Governance Plan (NeGP) is getting mired in definitions – provisioning of infrastructure vs. service delivery; e-inclusion vs. egovernance. Decentralisation is an avowed aim, but devolution to the third tier of government, both panchayats and urban local bodies, continues to be just lip service as the states merrily go their own way. A list of such examples can be drawn in every sector. The latest debate (or, dispute?) is related to the Planning Commission; where critics say planning without responsibility for outcomes is futile and the followers point to resultant budget cuts and fiscal prudence. In the meanwhile, the country waits for much needed infrastructure.
It is time for the lines to converge. We need holistic policy, projects and programmes with one coordination point for each and all departments working together. For example, if Bharat Nirman is taken as the overarching policy, the NeGP objectives should be dovetailed with the social spending schemes so as to ensure better targeting of citizens. To borrow from management jargon, everybody needs to be on the same page rather than on different pages of the same book. The point to note is that there is a generally accepted strategy already available to us. It is only reasonable that we implement the same together, while adjustments are made as the need arises, feedback is dovetailed into implementation, and monitoring is adhered to.
It may sound like a doomsday prophesy, but the truth is that time is running out and further delays in addressing key social and developmental issues would certainly not augur well for the nation. Now, actions must begin to speak.