Doing it with your heart
Innovation and Emotional Quotient can do the most to bridge the gap between plan and implementation
by ATUL PATNE
TERMS such as citizen-oriented administration, administration at your doorstep and development administration have become buzzwords after the advent of e-governance in public administration. Increasing use of information technology is helping administrators to go from “establishment computerization”, “facility centres”, “smart cards”, “web-based monitoring”, “SMS alert” to social network- /blog-based administration. E-governance is expected to deliver speedily and also introduce transparency in the system. However, prompt availability of facts for decision making has been equated with prompt decision making.
E-governance is concerned mainly with computerization and is a concept related to Intelligence Quotient (IQ). But the administration’s focus on making the citizen occupy centre stage depends on the intentions of the officer-employees making use of the medium of e-governance. Hence, there is a need for i-governance, which is more dependent on Emotional Quotient (EQ).
Though EQ is dependent on IQ, it is larger than it. Similarly, i-governance, though inseparably linked to e-governance, is a much broader concept – with i standing for innovation.
If the administration is to be made citizen-oriented, the opinions of the officers who step out into the field to implement plans must be considered vis-a-vis the plans. The files of employees requesting withdrawal from GPF for heart surgery, cancer treatment, children’s marriage and so on are treated like routine files. Why can’t they be tagged as urgent, when letters from politicians demanding various favours are always classified as urgent and important? This EQ-based system is what I call i-governance.
I-governance is inclusive of e-governance. It never detracts from the use of IT in administration, it just aims to put a heart into it. It is paramount to establish mechanisms which can send a message to the employees to put their heart into their work as well. To achieve all this, it is necessary to establish what can be called a State Innovation Commission (SIC). A mechanism should be established till the last link in the chain of administration to enable all levels to send proposals suggesting changes constructively. In every department, an Innovative Projects Committee must be established which can forward the proposals of its department to the SIC.
In the cattle sector, nearly a crore and 38 lakh rupees were spent, of which a crore
and 15 lakh have been spent on the establishment and only Rs 23 lakh on the cows.
The SIC must be made up of experts selected on the basis of their capability and experience in innovation. It must keep surveying all levels of the departments and keep seeking proposals. It should study all the innovative practices in the country and propose their implementation in the State after adaptation.
It must also try to convey the innovation taking place in one department to all other relevant departments. It should plan to organize competitions for innovative projects. Besides, it should continuously monitor public response to government schemes and suggest necessary changes to the State administration.
It should create an environment conducive to suggesting how the existing system can improve with innovative practices. Techniques like Total Quality Management (TQM) and Kaizen, which have been successfully implemented in the private sector, should also be introduced in the government after modification if needed.
There are limitations to traditional bureaucracy. There is a huge gap between the decision and implementation levels in the government. Whenever one wants to do something innovative, the hurdle of “accounting head” crops up, meaning there would be no head under which the funds can be claimed or spent. If one intends to take up innovative projects, using 4.5% of the regular funds for new schemes, one has to report in writing what new projects one has undertaken as well as what one plans to undertake to the planning department. All projects formulated to address problems unique to a district are analysed by the planning department, which does not have any independent staff with knowledge about the particular district.
In the past, innovative projects being undertaken under the Manav Vikas Mission had to be explained umpteen times at the office in Aurangabad before approval was granted. That is why we need an institutional set-up to assess the innovative initiatives. Then, provision for innovative projects can be made even with funds under TSP and SCP, like the nominal provision under the general plan. In tribal areas like Gadchiroli and Nandurbar, the funds available under TSP are four to five times those available under the general head. If provision for innovation is made in these funds, the impact can be dramatic for these districts have a unique set of problems which can be solved only at the ground level, not by top-down uniform planning.
IN the Global Innovation Index published by the Confederation of Indian Industries (CII) and the INSEAD Business School of France for 2009-10, India’s position has slid further. In 2007-08, India was at 23, in 2008-09 at 42 and is now at 56. China has moved from 12 to 3 during the same period. A country can develop only if there is strong support for innovation in society.
I-governance is inclusive of e-governance. It never detracts from the use of
IT in administration, it just aims to put a heart into it.
Public welfare schemes run by the administration often suffer from time or cost overruns or don’t produce the desired results at all. At the lower levels, all the employees know about this reality but higher-ups cannot make effective decisions as they expect the lower levels to implement everything with closed eyes, without asking questions or suggesting any innovations. The inflow and outflow of the funds can be monitored through the Budget Distribution System but has anyone ever bothered about the establishment cost to benefit ratios of various social welfare corporations set up in the State? Why is Rs 10 lakh being spent on the establishment expenses for a corporation which distributes a subsidy of just Rs 1 lakh? Various such corporations are formed, named after leaders
such as Sant Rohidas Charmodyog, Annabhau Shahir, Mahatma Phule, Vasantrao Naik, Maulana Azad and so on but how relevant is their work? The grants given by these corporations are negligible compared to their establishment expenditure, which is four to five times the grants! Why cannot a single window system be started where beneficiaries from all sections of society can claim the benefits? This can reduce the establishment expenditure by 80-90%. Under the Savitri Bai Phule Yojana of the Maharashtra government, fixed sums are deposited in the accounts of a limited number of beneficiaries.
Instead, with just 20% of the expenditure, the policies of Jana Shree Bima Yojana can be drawn for all the students, providing scholarship benefits irrespective of gender, class or caste. If such innovations could be simply and quickly implemented, the savings would be worth crores of rupees.
Farmers are provided wells on 100% grant basis, but there is usually no provision for pumps and pipes. Where there is, the subsidy is 50-75%! If a well-pumppipe-sprinkler package is given at 90% subsidy, it would be a better way of utilizing the huge sums being spent in the name of farmer welfare.
In Gadchiroli, in the cattle sector, nearly a crore and 38 lakh rupees have been spent in the past year but the beneficiaries are just 35 people and their calves. Out of this, a crore and 15 lakh have been spent on the establishment and only Rs 23 lakh on the cows. Had the project been implemented on a publicprivate partnership (PPP) basis over 1,000 hectares, the results and expenditure could have been in reverse ratio. g
The writer is Collector, Gadchiroli