The West Bengal State of Governance 2020 review shows that the state continues to be a force to be reckoned with it, defending its position as #3 on our overall state ranking index. A comparative analysis of West Bengal’s performance over the last couple of years clearly establishes that key decisionmakers have realized the need to balance the state’s historical sociopolitical leanings against modern needs and opportunities. The shift from a predominantly-agrarian and rural-heavy demographic to a more business-friendly, technology-embracing society is palpable.
A most telling development in the reshaping of the West Bengal narrative is that the state has ranked #1 in our 2020 Ease of Doing Business category. This is a long way from its reputation as a state mired in labour uprisings, strikes, and Communism-tinged resistance to commercial expansion. Is the CM Mamata Banerjee-led administration succeeding in its promises to induce industrial, economic, infrastructural and technological development? Let’s take a look at how West Bengal in 2020 fares in the SKOCH State of Governance evaluation.
West Bengal in 2020 ranks #3 overall in our annual analysis, close on the heels of Andhra Pradesh at #1 and Gujrat at #2. An analysis of West Bengal’s year-on-year performance between 2019 and 2020 tells a story of stability and even conservative success
The progress from #3 to #1 in the Health category in a year of lockdowns and a global healthcare crisis deserves a special mention. West Bengal also continues to push for gender equality and child interests with schemes under the Women & Child Development niche.
Ease of Doing Business
Finance & Revenue
Police & Safety
Power & Energy
Women & Child Development
West Bengal State Of Governance 2020 Improves With e-Governance
The Electronic Delivery Service System and Automated Mutation is a portal reducing delays and human-errors in record-keeping. The WB Land & Land Reforms and Refugee Relief and Rehabilitation Department offers the next-generation solution to digital documentation, with potential for integration and scalability with other departments.
Health Sector Gets A Boost With The Integrated Call Centre For COVID–19
One of the primary goals of the operators was to disseminate factual information and allay people’s fears vis-à-vis the Covid-19 pandemic. With this in mind, the tele-service Covid-19 call centre aimed to connect with as many people as possible, answer queries, note problems, offer solutions and arrange assistance.
The Health & Family Welfare Department recognizes that mental health is a crucial component of public health and safety. In other words, panic at a time of national and global emergency is detrimental to the individual and society at-large. The centre also offered counselling sessions and coordinated with healthcare institutions to minimize operational struggles. The call centre provided healthcare assistance to non-Covid patients and also aided those affected by the virus and secured ambulance services.
Municipal Governance Increases With Citizen Cooperation In New Town Kolkata
The city authorities collaborated with the West Bengal Housing Infrastructure Development Corporation HIDCO, NKDA and NKGSCCL to mobilise a workforce of local volunteers to deal with the everyday challenges of lockdown living.
The authorities recognised the unique potential of everyday citizens and residents when it comes to both understanding needs and devising solutions. With the most basic essential activities like grocery shopping, ATM cash withdrawals, pharmacy visits and emergency medical care restricted during the lockdown, over 200 volunteers formed a network to help everyone in need. In order to meet these goals, dedicated task forces headed by senior administrative officials were outfitted with safety kits and trained.
West Bengal State Of Governance 2020 Marked By Impressive Police & Safety Action
The Paschim Medinipur District Police is recognised as a highly impactful performer in the Police & Safety segment for its excellent response to Covid-19. The district police specifically focused on confidence-building activities and awareness programs to connect with citizens during this difficult phase. Women’s safety continues to be a priority, with dedicated helplines throughout the pandemic as well as self-defence programs leading up to the lockdown. This approach to inclusivity in policing can also be seen in the efforts made to accommodate the needs of disabled persons in all 53 units of the district police.
Power & Energy Sector Shines With The e-Samadhan Portal
The last few years have seen a push for ICT development in West Bengal and the e-Samadhan scheme by the West Bengal CMO is an excellent example of modern-day digital governance that is transparent, accountable, inclusive and accessible.
The system incorporates a pendency checker and online grievance redressal mechanism while officials can access information based on their specific roles and are monitored for the same. As a result, a clear process and hierarchy trail is established. The system boasts a dedicated IT cell and sensitisation training programs. In addition, the program leadership works with the Cyber Security Division (CSD) of NIC. The overall emphasis is on rapid responses without any compromises in security.
The e-Samadhan system has been lauded as the first of its kind in the country because of its truly egalitarian nature and how it involves everyone from the average citizen to department officers, ministers and the Chief Minister.
Role Played By South Bengal State Transport Corporation In Combating Covid 19
When the pandemic hit and a nationwide lockdown was enforced, our country witnessed one of the biggest social crises in recent history: several thousand citizens stranded away from home. SBSTC played a crucial role in helping people return to their hometowns/ families during the pandemic. SBSTC staff and crew members worked round-the-clock, risking their own health and safety in the line of duty, to make sure that passengers could travel back safely.
Integrated Traffic Management System by the South Bengal State Transport Corporation
The system aims to transform the public transport landscape by ensuring quick, reliable and accurate processing on both the consumer and the corporation ends. Firstly, passengers can enjoy a hassle-free booking experience. At the same time, transport corporations can streamline their inventory, GPS fleet tracking, fuel supplies, depot allocation, accounting and payment systems and more. The digital overhauling of the transport space involved extensive training, systems customization, departmental needs-based assessment and software development. The system is monitored and updated on a felt-needs basis.
West Bengal State of Governance 2020 Emphasises Women & Children Rights
The Department of Women and Child Development & Social Welfare launched the Home-based Early Childhood Care & Education (ECCE) and Parenting scheme. The programme was designed to address the issue of children’s educational and developmental needs during the lockdown. Over 14 lakh parents of children aged 3-6 years were helped under the program. The program utilises the informal play-way approach to education especially suited to the home environment. The administration devised this project to ensure that a commitment to education is fostered from an early age. The authorities understand the importance of keeping both parents and children looped-in despite the pandemic.
The West Bengal Commission for Protection of Child Rights has worked hard in Covid times to prioritise child health and safety. WBCPCR looked at children’s mental health, nutrition needs and overall experience during Covid. It also addressed the grave horrors of child trafficking and child marriage.
The Jaago project by the Department of Self Help Group & Self Employment is another highly impactful performer. Financial empowerment continues to be the cornerstone of women’s development in the country. A monetary incentive of INR 5,000 is awarded annually to women-centric Self Help Groups in both urban and rural West Bengal. The recipients of these grants work at helping women become self-reliant and combat social evils. The Jaago project also worked to educate people about the Covid-19 virus and healthcare challenges. Some of the primary focus areas of the Jaago scheme are poverty alleviation, access to women’s healthcare including menstrual hygiene and family planning aids, and encouraging financial and professional independence for underprivileged women.
Except a fall from #1 to #7 in the Water segment, #1 to #2 in Skill Development and from #11 to #14 in District Administration, the state has experienced only minor fluctuations in its rankings, and most are for the better.
District Administration Does Well In West Bengal State Of Governance 2020
The District Administration Purulia is a solid performer this year, with two impactful entries. Firstly, the Vishwakarma-Labour Information Management System is a portal transforming the labour-for-hire landscape by connecting workers directly with employers. Operating at the grassroots level, the platform empowers all kinds of tradesmen, from construction workers to electricians and plumbers. The Digitized Transit Pass also by the Purulia administration modernises the minor minerals transport landscape through e-governance. The system increases transparency and efficiency, thereby fighting corruption and systemic errors. It also reduces carbon emissions.
WB Pushes Skill Development To Empower Rural Youth
The Department of Technical Education Training & Skill Development launched the West Bengal Model of PPP for ITI. The scheme aims to boost industrial training and skill development in rural areas. The primary goal is to encourage and empower rural youth and equip them for opportunities and progress at par with urban populations. By marrying private sector capacities with public sector support, the scheme has so far launched 77 government Industrial Training Institutions dedicated to 39 engineering and 21 non-engineering trades. Short-term training modules, incentives for private training providers offering student placements, optimizing existing infrastructure and third-party evaluation come together to create a resource-effective skill development movement.
West Bengal State of Governance 2020 Report clearly shows some tremendous improvement over the past few years. West Bengal in 2020 prioritised long-term growth with greater use of digital technologies across administrative, policing, infrastructural and governance sectors. The state has exceeded expectations on several counts but there are some sectors that could do with more intervention. For example, we haven’t recorded any progress in the Education and Infrastructure sectors for West Bengal 2020. Similarly, Municipal Sanitation and Urban Development are also within this category.
Inclusion is the first magazine dedicated to exploring issues at the intersection of development agendas and digital, financial and social inclusion. The magazine makes complex policy analyses accessible for a diverse audience of policymakers, administrators, civil society and academicians. Grassroots-focused, outcome-oriented analysis is the cornerstone of the work done at Inclusion.