State of Governance 2020 Report Card

State of Central Governance 2020 -Rural Governance Outshines Urban

Covid-19 vaccination drive that started in India from 16 January was run mostly under the Central government until April end. From 1 May a decentralised policy was put in place, wherein states were allowed to negotiate and purchase the vaccine directly from the manufacturers and administer to the population in the age group of 18-44 years. This led to mismanagement and resulted in huge controversies. The Supreme Court had to step in. Subsequently, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced on 7 June that the government will provide free vaccines to all.


Covid-19 vaccination drive that started in India from 16 January was run mostly under the Central government until April end. From 1 May a decentralised policy was put in place, wherein states were allowed to negotiate and purchase the vaccine directly from the manufacturers and administer to the population in the age group of 18-44 years. This led to mismanagement and resulted in huge controversies. The Supreme Court had to step in. Subsequently, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced on 7 June that the government will provide free vaccines to all.

The point here I am trying to make is while decentralisation is key to good governance it may not always lead to desired results. Narendra Modi has been an advocate of decentralisation and more power in the hands of states. Scrapping of the Planning Commission is a manifestation of it. However, he rose to the occasion and moved forward for a centralised procurement and management of Covid vaccine when he realised that the decentralisation was not working. This is what ModiNomics is all about! I have mentioned it on several occasion that Modiji’s economic and governance model is based on “common sense.” I have documented it in the book ‘ModiNomics”.

Another example where the central government’s focus helped achieve the wonderful result is Swachh Bharat. Cleanliness is the responsibility of local bodies like municipalities and Panchayats. Several municipalities, district administration and even the state governments had taken measures to improve cleanliness but the piecemeal approach was not having much impact. Modiji realised the enormity of the problem and launched a focused drive from the Centre to ensure that cleanliness becomes a movement.

The Central government runs programmes targeted at addressing the critical challenges facing the country like access to healthcare, clean energy, education, livelihood and financial inclusion. SKOCH Group has done a comprehensive study of the programmes run by the Central government. Our assessment is based mostly on primary research focused on outcomes. The assessment of the Central government’s programmes and schemes is done along with the annual SKOCH State of Governance report.

We have done sectoral, department as well as programme- wise studies. Programmes targeted at rural development have performed exceedingly well year after year. Several transformative measures have been taken by the Ministry of Tribal Affairs, Defence Research and Development Organisation and the Ministry of Panchayati Raj.

Rural Transformation

Whenever you go to rural areas in any part of the country it is hard to miss the impact of PMGSY. It has done a wonderful job in connecting almost the entire rural India through pucca road. New technologies have been used to ensure effective monitoring of the scheme and remove leakages. DBT and schemes targeted at cleanliness and electrification have led to wonderful results.

Besides PMGSY, the schemes like Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana – Gramin, MGNREGA, Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana and Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Gram Jyoti Yojana Saubhayaga have also led to transformative changes in rural India. Apart from the immediate positive impact, these schemes have led to long-term asset creation in rural India.

Move Health to Concurrent List

Health is a state subject as per the Indian Constitution. However, the states have struggled to uphold their constitutional responsibilities, especially during any major outbreaks. Covid-19 pandemic has exposed the shortcomings in the institutional framework. States lack both, technical strengths as well as financial capacities, to deal with a public health crisis. The Central government has greater spending capacity as well as better technical resources. In the times of global pandemic like Covid-19 most states looked helpless. This makes the case for bringing health to the concurrent list of the Indian Constitution. The central government’s role should be focused on designing health policies and programmes and managing public health emergencies.

Already the Central government is sharing big responsibilities. Covid-19 vaccination policy and Ayushman Bharat scheme are good examples of it. Several other innovative measures have been taken by the Central government. Central TB Division, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, has implemented a programme called Nikshay. It is an integrated National TB surveillance, patient management and DBT system, serving over four lakh users across both public and private sectors across the country. In Nikshay, over two lakh beneficiaries are registered each month and over Rs 2.5 crore worth of benefits are transferred to TB patients each week.

Tribal Affairs

The Ministry of Tribal Affairs (MoTA) emerged as a dark horse in 2020 to top the tally in e-Governance, a spot which in 2019 was occupied by the Ministry of Human Resource Development. The Ministry of Tribal Affairs is not the first place that would come to mind as a torchbearer in e-Governance. A vision, that has been implemented by Minister Arjun Munda, making the ministry most technology savvy. He has a dashboard, which is regularly reviewed.

The Ministry has taken several innovative measures to improve the health and wellbeing of the tribal population, who are among the most marginalised community in the country. The initiatives include empowerment of tribals through “IT-enabled Scholarship Schemes”, Eco-Rehabilitation of tribal villages through Innovative design in water management using Ice-stupa, Swasthya: Tribal Health and Nutrition Portal and empowerment of tribal communities through various ICT initiatives. The Swasthya Portal is changing policy-making with a data-driven, evidence-based approach. MoTA has launched 5 scholarship schemes at different education levels helping 4,794 research scholars, 1,000 undergraduate students and 20 post-graduate and research students abroad.

The Ladakh region has been facing acute water shortages in recent years due to climate change. One innovative measure introduced by the Ministry to ease the water scarcity problem is Ice Stupa, a way to store frozen meltwater in the winter, which can then be used during the spring sowing season.

Panchayati Raj

The Ministry of Panchayati Raj has introduced an online audit system to bring transparency and greater accountability in the functioning of rural local bodies. The project called AuditOnline facilitates both external and internal audits for all three tiers of Panchayats. In addition to this, AuditOnline also serves the purpose of maintaining the past audit records of the auditee with an associated list of the auditors and audit team involved in the audit. Most of the Panchayats have been maintaining accounts on the e-GramSwaraj and carrying out online transactions for the 14th Finance Commission. AuditOnline is envisaged to ensure a sound financial management system in the Panchayats thereby fostering increased accountability.


Long-range missiles have a crucial role to play in the defence of the country, acting as a deterrent against nefarious forces trying to destabilise the country. The range, speed and accuracy demand composites that can withstand a very higher temperature range. DRDO has pioneered in developing “Indigenous Process Technologies” for realising “Carbon-Carbon” and “Carbon-Phenolic” composites, which could withstand high temperatures of more than 3,000 degrees Celsius. Due to the new technologies Indian Missile Programmes including Agni Variants, Underwater Systems, Tactical Missiles and Fighter aircrafts, attained higher benchmarks bringing the country to the select league of nations possessing these capabilities. It covers the entire spectrum of defence of the country.

Jal Jeevan Mission

Jal Jeevan Mission, announced by the Prime Minister on 15 August 2019, has given a big push to provide quality tap water to households across the country. The scheme is being implemented in partnership with States/UTs. It aims to provide an assured tap water supply to every rural home by 2024. Jal Jeevan Mission is a ‘bottom up’ approach, where the community plays a vital role starting from planning to implementation, management, operation and maintenance. Over Rs 1 lakh crore is estimated to be invested in the rural drinking water supply sector during 2021-22.

The Mission’s activities have led to the creation of new employment opportunities in villages giving a boost to the rural economy.

Several schemes introduced recently by the government have brought about transformative changes, especially in the rural areas. These have multiplier effects on social welfare in key areas like health, education, land reform, water and sanitation, which are essentially state subjects.

State of Governance Study 2021

The assessment process for SKOCH State of Governance 2021 has commenced. The focus of the study has been reset keeping in view the required priorities of the government both at the Centre and the state level. The SKOCH State of Governance is the only independent national-level outcome assessment study of the State of Governance in India since 2003, based on primary research and data. The ranking of a particular state depends on the focus on the states’ performance in key areas, while the departments and ministries of the Central government are ranked based on an assessment of schemes and programmes undertaken by the respective departments and ministries. Focus sectors for SKOCH State of Governance assessment for the year 2021 are given above.

Health Finance Digital Economy
Land and Property Transportation Gen Administration
Urban Citizen Services Jal Jeevan Social Welfare

In the global crisis situation, the role of the Central government becomes all the more important. For example, the Central Government has been required to work more proactively in the health sector, which is constitutionally a state responsibility. Given the enormity of the challenge, the central government would require to play a guiding role in several other sectors that are primarily under the state domain.

Prime Minister Modi has the vision to make India a $1 trillion digital economy by 2025, based on the digital infrastructure that has become indispensable. The most important role in this will be played by digital payment and the Indian fintech sector. For instance, UPI transactions have reached over 18 billion transactions annually and growing.

Post computerisation of land records, the next key big reform is digitisation and dematerialisation of land and property records. Besides the obvious benefits, the impact on credit flow to MSMEs and job generative impact can be huge including creating an online credit market based on using clear titled property and land for collateral-based loans, increasing velocity of transactions and curbing black money.

In April 2020, the government launched a scheme called Swamitva that seeks to create a ‘Record of Rights’ of abadi village land or habited areas. This scheme is implemented through the Ministry of Panchayati Raj as a central sector scheme. As a next step, PM Modi launched the distribution of e-property cards under the scheme in April 2021 wherein more than four lakh property owners received e-property cards. This will give a big impetus to the dematerialisation of land records.

States compete broadly in three areas–finance, governance and development. There is a growing competition among states to get higher allocation from the Centre and attract investments–not only domestic but also foreign. States are doing a lot of innovations to ensure public service delivery transparently and efficiently, which is all about good governance. The third major area of competition among states is the implementation of development projects.

During Covid-19, states have announced several welfare measures to support communities, especially the marginalised. Although a challenge but General Administration has handled governance well.

In 2021, several innovative measures would come to the fore. Assessment, documentation and showcasing such innovative governance measures through the SKOCH State of Governance report would be pivotal in scaling up and replication at the national level!

Author of best-seller ModiNomics, Sameer Kochhar is Reforms Historian and Chairman,

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