Describe the important mechanisms of bringing responsiveness in public systems management.
An important dimension of democratic governance is the responsiveness of the government. The Index of democratic governance needs to measure the responsiveness of government. How responsive is the government? In what ways it is responsive? Responsiveness is often linked to who approaches the government and for what? Given the wide range of welfare schemes of different government and the fiscal allocation to welfare related programs, the responsiveness of the government assumes an added significance.
How is this responsiveness linked to the fundamentals of democracy seeking and sustaining electoral support and its implications for governance and governance objectives? Are the wide range of agitations and protests in the public domain linked to this lack of responsiveness? Does the responsiveness of the state take into account socio-economic diversities and inter/infra-group conflicts. Responsiveness of the government system needs to be viewed not merely in terms of tangible outcomes measures as benefits through programs and schemes, but its capacity to secure dignity and respect to common citizens.
How does the state respond to organized and unorganized interests and different class groups? Does the state respond to the diversity of interests as manifested in the claims of different groups or caters to those of a limited few? How can this be measured? If responsiveness of the government is at the core of the analysis, the index would need to measure this responsiveness. The important questions that would need to be addressed include:
- What do a governments do?
- What do citizens expect from the government?
- What all do they go to the government for?
- How does a citizen approach the government?
- How does the government respond?
The services/ benefits that the state provides to its citizens could be divided into several categories: the minimal responsibilities that every state is required to fulfill ensure law and order, maintain and support dispute settlement mechanisms, enforce contracts among citizens, protect basic liberties of the citizens.
The collective services and benefits meant for citizens irrespective of one’s social background, class status or gender such as transport, roads, electricity, schools, and hospitals, collective services meant for citizens as members of some group based on ascriptive identitydalits, adivasis, minorities, and OBCs, or differently abled individual benefits on the basis of some economic criterion subsidies on petrol or cooking gas, subsidies on agricultural inputs, fixing minimum support prices, agricultural extension, subsidized food, cloth, and other essential consumer goods, old age pensions, employment, provision of credit of low interest rates.
The index of democratic governance needs to measure how citizens rate the efficiency of the delivery mechanisms that provide these services/benefits.
A common phenomenon in the modern state is the effort at different forms of enumeration. There are different forms of identification/certification that citizens are required to obtain, These may include a ration card, drivers license, a PAN number, multi-purpose household cards, death and birth certificates, BPL cards and employment cards under RLEGP. Many of these cards are issued/distributed, monitored, controlled by the central government in India.
As a result, in the context of constructing an index of democratic governance of Indian states, they may not be an appropriate measure of the effectiveness of the State Government.
Are there state specific identification forms/norms/ measures/ methods in place especially to provide benefits to citizens? Can there be a comparison of the utility/ perception of benefit among ordinary citizens about some of the forms of identification listed above. While developing the Index of democratic governance, the focus will be on different agencies/ institutions and processes that represent both the state and local governments.