July 2009

New Government: Renewed Priority

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The United Progressive Alliance government is back with a second mandate and renewed vigour. Its 100-day agenda aims at consolidation of first-term welfare oriented e-governance measures for the 'aam aadmi'.

Unlike the first term, which saw lot of internal bickering over government policies and announcements and the National Common Minimum Programme to tie it down, the government straightaway sat down to business. It announced an ambitious Unique Identity Card Scheme (UIDAI project), expected to create at least 100,000 additional jobs in the country in the next three years apart from offering great business opportunity to domestic IT companies.  

The initiative speaks of the government's seriousness to ensure benefits of flagship schemes to the common masses, apart from their security.

Much of the government agenda has been reiterated in President Pratibha Patil's customary address to the joint session of Parliament, which we have carried in this issue. The address reiterated its commitment towards an inclusive society and economy by consolidating the ongoing flagship programmes through improved governance.

Ms Patil spoke about enlarging the scope of works permitted under the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act and achieving its convergence with other programmes for maximising land productivity. Bharat Nirman, which sought to bring basic infrastructure to rural areas, will be scaled up to second phase with enhanced targets like, rural telecommunication at 40% of rural teledensity, expanding broadband coverage to every panchayat, repositioning CSC's as Bharat Nirman Common Service Centres, etc.

Effective delivery of services as envisioned by the government calls for more transparency in government functioning. The President's address spoke of public accountability. To this effect an internal monitoring mechanism has been promised to counter red-tapism.

The issue of quality and efficiency of the Indian bureaucracy also finds mention in the latest survey by Political & Economic Risk Consultancy. The respondents in the survey were least impressed with the quality and efficiency of the civil services in India. Even the 2009 Global Corruption Barometer by Transparency International has rated political parties and the civil service as the most corrupt institutions in the world, including India.

On the whole, UPA's agenda as talked about in the Presidential address, clearly shows the government's  earnestness to move ahead with purposeful governance. The result will be there for all to see.  

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