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What we need to monitor in the performance of the NDA Government in terms of transparency and accountability

Dear all,

The election results in India are out. The United Progressive Alliance (UPA), led by the Indian National Congress has been routed at the electoral hustings. The right-wing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) has been voted to power on the basis of about 31-36% voter support. The final vote share may vary as and when the Election Commission calibrates these figures after cross checking the information from all constituencies. Nevertheless the BJP may be able to form the Government on its own without depending upon the support of its allies as it is likely to cross the 50%+1 watershed in the Lower House of Parliament. The BJP admitted that it had not expected to win as many seats in some of the States. That candour speaks volumes about how much the UPA had managed to alienate the voters after governing the country for over a decade. All eyes will now be on the ability of the NDA Government led by its Prime Ministerial candidate, Mr. Narendra Modi to deliver on the BJP's electoral promises.
 
What do we monitor NDA's performance against?
Although the BJP made 'development' its major electoral plank, its manifesto contains several promises about governance that will have to be monitored over the next five years. A quick recap of the promises made in the BJP's electoral manifesto relation to transparency, accountability, people's participation, development, police and judicial reform and national security are given below.
 
The BJP has pledged itself to (amongst other things):- Participatory Democracy; Inclusive Development; Open, Transparent and Systems Based Government and Proactive Pro-People Good Governance.
 
Some of the core beliefs for the BJP are:

·         the only philosophy and religion of a Government should be India First.

·         the only epic of a Government should be India's Constitution.

·         the only power of a Government should be the power of the people.

·         the only prayer of a Government should be the welfare of its people.

·         the only way of a Government should be 'Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas' (With everybody, for everyone's development).

 

People's Participation: Our developmental process will be a people's movement - of Jan bhagidari (people's participation). 

(BJP) will make them the active drivers of development rather than mere passive recipients.

·         People's Engagement: Through Pro-active, Pro-people Good Governance, we will ensure the

Government itself directly reaches out to the people, especially the weak and marginalized sections

of society.

·         We will further evolve the Public Private Partnership (PPP) model into a People-Public-Private

·         Partnership (PPPP) model.

·         BJP is committed to strengthen self-Governance at the local level and we will empower Panchayati Raj Institutions with extensive devolution of the 3 Fs - Functions, Functionaries and Funds.

·         Good performers amongst the Panchayats will be rewarded with additional developmental grants.

·         Strengthen the institution of the Gram Sabha, respecting their inputs and initiatives for development process.

·         We will actively involve people in policy formulation and evaluation through various platforms.

·         We will encourage Openness in the Government, involving all stakeholders in the decision-making

processes.

 

On Corruption: (Amongst other things the BJP aims at):-

   ·         minimizing discretion in the citizen-government interface through technology enabled e-governance.

 

·         Simplification of processes and procedures at all levels.

 

"Open Government and Accountable Administration:

Administrative reforms will be a priority for the BJP. Hence, we propose to implement them through an appropriate body under the PMO. The objective will be to bring in transparency in Government's decisionmaking process. Government systems and processes would be relooked to make them citizen friendly, corruption free and accountable. Every effort will be made to meet the development aspirations of the people and make the Government agencies accountable to the citizens. We will set-up an effective Lokpal institution. Corruption at any level will be dealt with firmly and swiftly. From birth certificate to school admission, from setting up business to paying of taxes, our present systems complicate the lives of our own people. We will reform it and make it easy in terms of access, efficiency and delivery. Following specific action will be initiated:

 

·         digitization of Government records will be taken up on top priority so that they are easily accessible.

·         performance review, social and environment audit would be mandated for all Government schemes and programmes.

·         open up Government to draw expertise from the industry, academia and society into the services.

·         government will be redefined by elimination of whatever is obsolete in laws, regulations, administrative structures, practices and would be purposive.

·         we will generate 'Kartavya Bhavna' (work commitment) among public servants as lives and productivity of people is dependent on the quality and efficiency of public services."

 

 

On the whole, hallmarks of (BJP's) Governance model would be:

·         People-centric

·         Policy driven

·         Time bound delivery

·         Minimum Government, Maximum Governance

 

(BJP) will:

·         focus on increasing the penetration and usage of broadband across the country. Deployment of broadband in every village would be a thrust area.

·         leverage technology for e-Governance and engage proactively with the people through social media for participative governance and effective public grievance redressal mechanism.

·         generate IT based jobs in rural and semi-urban areas.

·         make technology enabled products affordable for students.

·         use technology to reduce the burden of books on children. Make all institutions and schools e-enabled in a phased manner. Digital learning and training to be used extensively.

·         pursue a mission mode project under the 'National Rural Internet and Technology Mission' for use of telemedicine and mobile healthcare for rural healthcare delivery; use of IT for agriculture for real time information; Self Help Groups; retail trade and SMEs; and rural entrepreneurs, etc.

·         initiate a National e-Governance Plan to cover every Government office from the centre to the panchayats. The 'E-Gram, Vishwa Gram' scheme in Gujarat to be implemented nationwide.

·          promote e-Bhasha - National Mission for the promotion of IT in Indian Languages.

·         focus to bring SC/ST, OBCs and other weaker sections of the society within the ambit of IT enabled development.

·         deploy IT to protect India's priceless cultural and artistic heritage, which includes digitization of all archives and museology.

·         promote 'open source' and 'open standard' software.

·         mandate digitization of all government work to reduce corruption and delays.

·         set up High-speed digital highways to unite the nation.

·         use technology to reduce Transmission and distribution losses.

·         use mobile and e-Banking to ensure financial inclusion.

·         BJP aims to make every household digitally literate with a goal to make India the Global Knowledge hub, with IT being a major driver and engine of growth.

 

"Administrative:

Today, people of this country are frustrated with the present system. Our administrative set up should be people-centric, responsive and result-oriented. With this in mind, we are committed to bring the following reforms:

 

·         the administration and its members will be made truly accountable to their tasks as well as the people through rigorousevaluation process.

·         good performance will be rewarded; non-performers will be given opportunities and training support to improve.

·          rationalization and convergence among the Ministries, departments and other arms of the Government will be ensured tofocus on delivery.

·         open up government to draw expertise from the industry, academia and society.

·         services of youth in particular will be tapped to contribute in governance with Fellowship and Internship programmes launched at various levels."

 

(BJP) will simultaneously reform the legal system to make it more accessible to the common man. (BJP) will:

·         undertake a comprehensive review of the legal system to simplify complex legislations – converge overlapping legislation, as well as remove contradictory and redundant laws.

·         establish an institutional mechanism to periodically review and give suggestions for refining our laws.

·         simplify legal procedure and language.

·         make legal information open and freely accessible.

·         run legal awareness programmes and introduce in school curriculum - making the common man aware of his rights and duties.

 

On Police and Prisons: (BJP will)-

·         Roll out a comprehensive strategy for bringing the Indian Police at par with international standards.

·         Facilitate training and capacity building of Police forces.

·         Modernize the police force, equipping them with the latest technology.

·         Initiate the networking of police stations across the country for intelligence sharing and crime control.

·         Strengthen Investigations, making them Swift, Transparent, Fair, Clear and Decisive - acting as an inescapable deterrent to wrong- doers and a protective shield to the innocent.

·         Develop specialized expertise in investigation; through continuous training, especially in evolving competencies.

·         Overhaul our intelligence set up, with special focus on coordination and integration of human and technological intel - comprehensively gearing it towards collecting real time, specific and actionable inputs.

·         Modernize our Prison system with technology and infrastructure; to strengthen the security as well human rights and correctional dimensions.

·         Work towards evolving common national standards and protocols.

·         Train and technologically enable the police to track, pursue, as well as prevent Cyber Crime.

·         Bring Coastal States together on a common platform to discuss issues of Marine Policing.

·         Reinterpret the age-old concept of community policing in modern times; evolving ways for the police to reach out to the people, building bonds of trust and friendship - including spreading out into areas of public safety and public wellness.

·         Give special emphasis for improving the working conditions and welfare of police personnel.

On Development: (BJP will, amongst other things)-

·         strengthen Delivery of poverty alleviation programs through convergence, transparency and efficiency.

·         set up a National Optical-Fibre Network up to the village level; and Wi-Fi zones in public areas.

·         create an ecosystem for multi-country and inter-disciplinary collaborative research, and establish an Intellectual Property Rights Regime which maximizes the incentive for generation and protection of intellectual property for all type of inventors.

·         set an institute of Big data and Analytics for studying the impact of big data across sectors for predictive science.

·         Encourage citizen's participation in reforestation, agro-forestry and social forestry, through targeted programmes.

 

(On issues of national security) BJP will (amongst other things):

·         Revive the anti-terror mechanism that has been dismantled by the Congress, strengthen the role of National Investigation Agency (NIA) and put a system in place for swift and fair trial of terror related cases.

·         Reform the National Security Council to make it the hub of all sector-related assessments. It will be accountable for real-time intelligence dissemination. Digital and Cyber security will be a thrust area.

·         Insulate intelligence agencies from political intervention and interference.

·         Completely revamp the intelligence gathering system by modernizing the intelligence department.

·         Provide the State governments with all assistance to modernize their respective police forces and equip them with the latest technology. This will be taken up on a mission mode approach.

·         Chalk a national plan in consultation and participation of the state Governments, to address the challenges posed by the Maoist's insurgency. Talks with the insurgent groups will be conditional and within the framework of the constitution.

·         Study in detail India's nuclear doctrine, and revise and update it, to make it relevant to challenges

·         of current times.

·         Maintain a credible minimum deterrent that is in tune with changing geostatic realities.

 

·         Invest in India's indigenous Thorium Technology Programme.

 
It is interesting that there is only one reference to "human rights" in the entire manifesto (in the context of prisons) although the term 'rights' is also mentioned in the context of 'tribal welfare', 'food security', 'education', 'persons with disabilities', 'gender disparities in relation to property rights, marital rights and cohabitation', Intellectual Property Rights and the Uniform Civil Code (in the context of protecting women's rights). Civil society has its work cut out to monitor the NDA Government's performance on these and other lines explainedin the manifesto. The complete text of the BJP's manifesto along with the addendum published later is attached.
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DATED: Monday, 19 May 2014 10:39
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