Citizens can help govt by jogging its memory, and helping with skills

The easiest way to work with government is to solve some of their problems. We often think that the government should solve our problems, but in practice, they have many of their own!! And unless those are sorted first, there’s no chance of anything we want being tackled well.

There are some standard problems in government that citizens can help solve. Once we understand this, it’s only a matter of finding things to get started with. After that, it’s quite easy to build a good working relationship with officials to pursue solutions to public problems.

Broadly, there are two categories of problems that sarkar needs help with. The first is to do with skills that don’t exist in government, because the staffing hasn’t included that. Design is a good example of such a skill. Many jobs in government need design skills, but there’s no one to do that on the rolls of the government. So, if you can add that to some problem-solving effort, that’s welcome in government.

The other type of deficit is in momentum and memory. Because of constant changes in leadership and key staff through transfers, and because these transfers are between unrelated departments in many cases, there’s loss of momentum. A good officer may initiate something, but once she’s transferred, it is anyone’s guess if the next person will continue the initiative. In fact s/he may know nothing of it.

In such a situation, the only people who can maintain institutional memory are the citizens themselves. Engagement, therefore, becomes a way of being able to continue to do things across the tenures of many people.

Another thing I’ve learned from trying these things: the participation of citizens makes the government space a little more peer-based, whereas otherwise it is entirely hierarchical. In a peer-based network, more people propose solutions to problems, since they feel they will be heard. And that’s an important part of the answer – increasing the number of problem solving people.

*************

Internal capacity building in government is an important part of our quest for development. The mad rush to outsource everything in the last 20 years has virtually hollowed out a lot of departments, leaving them unable to do even the core functions of their jobs. We can have as much angst as we like about sarkar not doing this or that, but the plain truth is that in many departments there isn’t enough internal capacity to do things.

We’ll have to tackle this systematically, and also try to see how we can achieve some results quickly. One of the most effective ways that I have encountered is a new kind of PPP. That much abused term, public-private partnership, is often nothing more than outsourcing in a new look. Instead of that, we need to bring together the knowledge capital of the private sector to work with the people in the public sector.

People in different professional streams know things. Especially technical things that are not known at all in government. They’ve also had a lot more practice at re-engineering processes, whereas governments tend to stick with one formula for decades past the use-by dates. This knowledge, and the networks between professionals, can help do new things in government. And a very large number of people will be willing to help freely, so we don’t even need to spend much money doing this.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Similar Story

Lok Sabha elections 2024: North East Delhi — Know your constituency and candidates

In the high profile contest for North East Delhi, BJP's star MP Manoj Tiwari takes on the firebrand Kanhaiya Kumar (INC). Who are the others?

Table of contentsAbout the constituencyAt a glanceMap of the constituencyFind your polling boothPast election resultsIncumbent MP : Manoj Kumar TiwariOnline presenceCriminal casesPositions heldAssets and LiabilitiesPerformance in ParliamentMPLAD funds utilisationCandidates contesting in 2024Key candidates in the newsIssues of the constituencyAlso read About the constituency Well known for its high migrant labour population from the states of Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, North East Delhi constituency comprises the following areas: Burari, Timarpur, Karawal Nagar, Ghonda, Babarpur, Gokalpur (SC), Seemapuri (SC), Seelampur, Rohtas Nagar and Mustafabad. This constituency has the highest average population density of 36,155 persons per square km — the highest…

Similar Story

Lok Sabha elections 2024: Chandni Chowk — Know your constituency and candidates

Delhi-based businessman, Praveen Khandelwal of the BJP takes on Congress' Jai Prakash Agarwal. Know more about them and other contenders.

Table of contentsAbout the constituencyMap of the Constituency Find your polling boothIncumbent MP: Harsh Vardhan, BJPOnline PresenceCriminal CasesPositions HeldPerformance in ParliamentMPLAD fundsCandidates contesting in 2024Key Candidates in the newsIssues of the constituencyAlso read About the constituency  Chandni Chowk Lok Sabha constituency is one of the seven Lok Sabha constituencies in the Indian National Capital Territory of Delhi. This constituency came into existence in 1956. It is the smallest constituency of Lok Sabha in terms of area. Since the delimitation of parliamentary constituencies in 2008, it is made up of ten assembly constituencies, which are Adarsh Nagar, Shalimar Bagh, Shakur Basti, Tri…