Listening to the people
The main difference between democracy, monarchy and dictatorship is that in democratic set-ups, the common people are free to raise their voices and they are listened to. ‘LG’s Mulaqat’, and ‘Awaam Ki Awaaz’ the initiatives launched by Lt Governor Manoj Sinha are based on this basic concept of democracy and that is why Sinha, in these programmes, has been asserting that people want to be heard and expect quick action from the administration and therefore he has been directed the officers to resolve their complaints and strengthen public confidence. Sinha, through his various statements, has been observing that effective handling of complaints and grievances is fundamental to accountability and prompt resolution of public concerns in a timely and cost-effective way. It goes without saying that the governments are for the welfare of the public and therefore those at the helm of affairs need to have better understanding of the issues confronting their people. And there is no better way to do so than opening up the communication links with the people and being accessible to them. For over all development and progress it is a must that the administration communicates with people more and more at all levels. In this regard, LG’s Mulaqaat and Awaam Ki Awaaz are the two initiatives taken by the Jammu and Kashmir administration which are innovative and provide people an opportunity to communicate with the head of the administration and bring their issues to the fore. The programmes have been attracting more and more people. LG, during series of such programmes, has made it amply clear to the officers on the ground to maintain digital records of their meetings with the public and submit the action taken report on the grievances received periodically. He has also conveyed to the officers to monitor the working of their subordinates and officials working at the ground level ensuring an effective public delivery system while focusing on complete saturation of benefits of the flagship schemes. LG has sought the details of the grievances from the concerned Deputy Commissioners, besides specific timelines for the redressal of the same. He also directed the concerned Secretaries to proactively monitor and speed up the resolution of grievances as per the laid rules and provisions. This initiative has been very beneficial for the general public as they finally have access to the higher ups where their grievances could be redressed.
Though the initiative is being appreciated by one and all, need is to make it more broad based to ensure participation of more and more people. On the pattern of LG’s Mulaqat, the district heads too should open up communication links with the public. There should be some specific days reserved when the heads of district administration communicate with the public, listen to their issues and ensure administrative intervention wherever needed. As rightly pointed out by the LG, people’s participation is a vital and inseparable part of a seamless and robust governance system. Making peoples’ participation possible, the heads of district administrations should be more accessible to the people. People are the real stakeholders and whatever the schemes are made by the government are for the welfare of the public. However, it goes without saying that not all people are aware of all the schemes and thus fail to reap the fruits. It is therefore responsibility of the administrative heads on all levels to make efforts so that the benefits of all the schemes reach to all the concerned people. Public representatives, be those panchayat, BDC or DDC members can play a key role in this regard. They are the elected representatives of the public and therefore have much more communication with the people. These representatives should ensure that the benefit of all the schemes reach to all the concerned. Besides, they are the bridge between the administration and public and therefore should be the ones to listen to the people and then make the administration aware about the issues confronting people. The more actively these representatives mingle with people and communicate with the administration, the more people will get benefitted.