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‘Delivery’ Challenge

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While the big items in the bucket list are being ticked off by the Uttarakhand Government, the issue of governance on the ground remains an unmet challenge. It may seem like electoral logic to launch ambitious schemes and projects, but the last mile delivery of services also matters. Given the fact that Uttarakhand has many topographical challenges, decentralisation of powers and local instrumentality are a must to help the common citizen in the many situations faced in daily life. At the present, for instance, it is the weather that is wreaking havoc in the hills and normal everyday life is severely affected. Under such circumstances, it does not help if local authorities have to look up the hierarchy for assistance.
The many difficulties being faced by people are the stuff of headlines on a daily basis – be it operations being undertaken in the Doon Medical College in candlelight, or women in labour dying on their way to hospital because of a lack of transportation, or the ambulance getting caught in a traffic jam. Is it likely that anybody in authority will face the flak for the power back-up system in Doon Hospital not working? Even the slightest snowfall ensures the power fails in the villages and towns of the hills. The only efficiency is shown in the way civil works are given the green signal for any project – except that the buildings then remain empty and unused because the doctors/teachers/officials are not available to man them.
And, being election season, the mass of government servants, whose productivity levels are at this abysmal level, are up in arms to extract their pound of flesh with a plethora of demands – threatening strikes and non-cooperation. The government is attempting a mix of strictness and negotiations to tide over the present crisis, but the problem is only going to get worse.
Keeping the morale and commitment to service of the government employees requires high administrative ability from the senior bureaucrats and the ministers. The reported failure of the government to utilise almost one-fourth of budgetary allocations in the past year is an example of how well the job is being done. Or, is it that the budget was artificially inflated and there was never any intent to spend non-existing funds? These are just a few of the questions the citizen asks as she negotiates pot-holed roads, battles with poorly maintained facilities, witnesses law and order deteriorate, experiences traffic become more chaotic by the day, etc.