Role of the State in Providing Public Services

For the first time in nearly five decades, political parties are fighting the general elections almost entirely on the basis of developmental and governance issues.   It is therefore not surprising that the role of politicians and the government in providing public services became the focus of electoral debate.  This is definitely a good development and indicates the maturing of Indian political process.  At the same time, we should also understand the relative roles of the citizens and the governmental service providers.

Election Expenditure and Corruption

The problem of corruption enters every citizen’s daily life. Almost every interaction with the government — be it for a birth certificate or ration card, electricity connection or water supply, for filing a police complaint or approval of a building plan – requires a bribe. All the eloquent sermons on the scourge of corruption by every party seeking power have provided no real relief to citizens. If anything, both the scale and spread have escalated.

Poverty not cause of problems but result of misgovernance

EXCLUDING the local governments’ expenditure and inter-governmental adjustments, the combined total expenditure of the Union and state governments, according to the Budget estimates for 1999-2000, is a whopping Rs 524,000 crore.

The actual expenditure was in excess of Rs 550,000 crore. Judging by past experience, next year it could well be Rs 600,000 crore. This amounts to Rs 1,644 crore a day, or in terms of purchasing power it is equivalent to $2 billion a day!

Enough of Fanfare, Let’s Get Down to Business

There is a well-known Telugu saying “Andhrulu arambhasurulu” - meaning people of Andhra

Public Defecation

She hurries-on before the sun is up or waits until dusk to avoid being seen by a host of passers by. Even at that time there is an occasional late returner or a bicycle rider passing by, when she instinctively stands up and covers her face in shame. Such is the plight of every young bride in villages of India. Our thousands of years’ old Indian civilization while touching on every facet of life seems to have strangely passed by one vital area – the scourge of having to relieve in public.