For want of good governance
The dynamic and transparent processes required to practice citizen-centric governance have been embodied in the current Telangana government
In commonsensical terms, a government consists of a group of individuals who share a defined responsibility for exercising power. It is the common concern of every citizen in this country to have an efficient, open, responsive, accountable, clean and dynamically adjusting administration at all levels. It is very important to change the negative perception of public services as apathetic, insensitive, dilatory, corrupt and discriminatory.
The rationale for a vibrant public service in promoting the progress and integrity of the country and pursuing ideals of social justice is as valid today as when the Republic came into being. It is necessary to devise urgent steps to restore the confidence of the public, especially the vulnerable groups, in the capacity and fairness of administration at various levels almost all-over the country.
Governance has to extend beyond conventional bureaucracies to involve active citizen and consumer groups at all levels. Governmental support for these measures, and eliciting the widest possible response from all sections of society and citizen groups on the context and direction of the changes needed is necessary.
The crisis in administration calls for a redefinition of the role of government and its functions and its real focus to serve the public effectively as much as to ensure efficient and cost-effective administration. Accountability, transparency and cleansing public services are all interconnected issues, for ensuring a clean and responsive administration.
This is what Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrashekhar Rao has been insisting on since the beginning. KCR, a visionary that he is, had been implementing a plethora of 'out of the box' policies, programmes which lead the Telangana state from darkness to light. His innovative welfare schemes, total overhauling of the administration, replacing the old and archaic acts with the new ones in tune with the present-day societal requirements, total transparency in administration and decentralisation of power and responsibilities have all aimed at bringing in a radical change in governance.
The reorganisation of the districts, new Panchayat Raj, Municipal Acts and proposed Revenue Act, innovative programmes with people's active participation like 'Palle Pragathi', 'Pattana Pragathi' and host of other programmes, all conceived by KCR, have brought in a qualitative change in the State. KCR's foresight as far as public health is concerned can be gauged from the fact that he was the one who for the first time introduced programmes like KCR Kits and 'Kanti Velugu'. He had embarked upon an ambitious programme like conceiving the idea of compiling the health profile of the people in Telangana State.
As far as the crisis management is concerned, none can ever match to KCR's administrative skills and management. How he is handling the Coronavirus issue in the State will become a textbook and process document for future generations. Without pressing any panic buttons, the CM from day one has been handling it in a most practical fashion. He did not scare the people. Instead, as he is accustomed to, assessed the situation and prepared the action plan. The fact that there are a small number of Coronavirus positive cases in the State with no causality till date, is the proof of his practical and determined administration.
When people were scared of the announcement made by PM Modi regarding a three-week lockdown, people in Telangana state were able to handle it without any problem. Since the outbreak of COVID-19 started, KCR held a series of media conferences and explained to people in simple terms about the virus and how it spreads. He was the one who told people that the virus was not born in the country but is spreading through the people coming from abroad. If people coming from abroad to the state are properly quarantined and given treatment, there would not be any major problem.
While announcing a one-day lockdown prior to the PM's announcement of three-week lockdown, KCR had already mentally prepared people in the state to face the lock down and maintain social distancing in true letter and spirit. Since he is a leader who understands the plight of the masses, especially the poor, he made it clear that during the day, people are allowed with some restriction to buy their essentials. He also restricted the movement of people to an extent that is genuine. He also ensured that the poor and marginalised get 12 KGs of rice per person and Rs 1500 cash.
KCR did not hide anything from the people but shared each and every bit of information with them. Like the way he was successful in taking people into confidence during the separate statehood movement, he is also taking people into confidence in the fight against the spread of Coronavirus. To his credit, he had inspired each and every elected representative, from the Gram Panchayat member to the MP and made them work as volunteers to take part in the movement to prevent the virus. He also inspired several prominent citizens, industrialists, and businessman, elected representatives to donate liberally to the CM's Relief Fund.
What stands alone as far as KCR's governance concerned is his uncanny approach to the crisis and problems. He is unconventional in that sense. He comes out with innovative and novel solutions to the problems, as he knows the state and its people like the back of his hand.
This is precisely the reason the state government under KCR had introduced greater transparency and openness in the functioning of the government and the public bodies. This would lead to free and easy access to information, transparent and well-publicised procedures for the general public and systems of assessment. The aim is to move towards a citizen-centred administration.
In the present scenario, the citizens in urban and rural areas are provided with widespread and easy access, through the media, posters and various forms of communications, to all information relating to the Coronavirus spread and the steps taken by the government. The measures taken by the government and the 'dos and don'ts' for the public have also been widely publicised through media, social media and on other platforms. The CM also urged poets and writers to come up with their creative work on the issue to create awareness among the people.
Perhaps the search for good governance has come to an end with the Telangana government under the guidance of KCR. Good governance, however, is not a finished product. It is a dynamic concept. It encompasses fast-changing political, social and economic milieu, along with international environment and conditions of operational governance. Hence, the need for periodical rethinking on and even remodelling of the concept and institutions of governance. And this is what KCR is doing on a regular basis.