Use of technology in delivery of public services and to increase internal efficiency of any institution will always leave a small vacuum, a small gap which will prevent us from reaching the pinnacle of Good Governance,, said Minister of State for External Affairs.
Minister of State for External Affairs Rajkumar Ranjan Singh has pitched for use of technology in delivery of public services and to increase internal efficiency of any institution. He categorically stated that use of technology in delivery of public services and to increase internal efficiency of any institution will always leave a small vacuum, a small gap which will prevent us from reaching the pinnacle of Good Governance,.
This gap can only be filled by adding empathy and a single minded goal of effectiveness of action, he said, adding these can only be delivered by the persons sitting behind the desk and in front of the office computers.
Addressing representatives from Indian Missions abroad at the eighth edition of Good Governance Day celebrations, the Minister shared a few thoughts on Good Governance.
“Good Governance Day” is traditionally observed on December 25, on the birth anniversary of former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee. This year, as part of Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav celebrations, this has been extended to one full week.
Asserting that “Good Governance” is a priority for prime minister Narendra Modi-led Government, the minister said, “The theme “Prashasan Gaon Ki Aur”, selected for this week-long observance, highlights the importance that the Prime Minister places on the inclusion of one and all; and the importance of last mile service delivery.”
As India celebrates the 75th anniversary of its Independence, it is only apt that good governance practices should percolate to the last mile, he added.
Maintaining that Good Governance is a loaded word, Dr Rajkumar Ranjan said experts have identified indicators like participation of the stakeholders, rule of law, consensus based decision making, and so forth, to develop a “Good Governance” matrix for an institution. By and large, indicators like effectiveness and efficiency, accountability, transparency and responsiveness are ranked high as indicators of Good Governance, he added.
The minister said he believes all these indicators, together combine to define the Governance structure of any institution. Emphasis should be on all the indicators. Together they define the quality of governance of an institution.
Talking about the grievance redressal mechanisms, like MADAD, initiated by the Ministry of External Affairs in 2015, the minister revealed that close to 76,000 grievances were registered and 71,000 grievances disposed or resolved since then. He commended MEA for the feat. He was informed that the Government of India’s grievance redressal platforms, like C.P. GRAMS has a grievance disposal rate of over 98 percent, he added.
Stating that disposal of grievances raised in the platforms, cannot be the ultimate barometer, the minister vouched for a well-defined timeframe for redressal of grievances. “These are essential and necessary first steps for efficient and responsive service delivery to the citizens,” he said.
Additionally, officials working behind the scene, need to prioritise the other indicators of Good Governance, said the minister adding that They need to ensure that the outcome of the whole exercise is efficient, and aimed at an effective outcome. “I am confident that our officials in MEA and our Missions and Posts abroad, are doing just that,” he said.
Maintaining that Good Governance also means to pro-actively look into the requirements and the welfare of the citizens, Dr Rajkumar Ranjan said, “India’s diaspora is substantial. I am happy that the Ministry of External Affairs launched the Global Pravasi RISHTA Portal (GPRP) last December. I understand that the portal is designed to connect with the Indian Diaspora across the world.”
RISHTA aims to create a three-way communication between the Ministry, Indian Missions and the Diaspora. Effective communication, and by extension, making the tools of communication available to all, remains central to Good Governance, he said.
The Minister further said E-Migrate, administered by the Office of Protectorate General of Emigrants, is yet another progressive initiative. This single platform, regulates and streamlines, emigration process for blue collared emigrants. Integration of all stakeholders, involved in the process of emigration, on a single electronic-platform, highly enhances service delivery and “ease-of-doing-business”. It ensures prompt and easy action on all fronts, by all the Stakeholders.
Stating that Enhanced welfare, especially of the weaker section in society is another aspect which must be at the forefront of Good Governance, the minister said MEA’s flagship Pre-Departure Orientation Training (PDOT), started since 2018 and designed to guide soon to be immigrants to ways of life, their rights and obligations, in a new country is critical in this aspect.
Talking about welfare of Non-Resident Indians, the minister highlighted the role of Indian Community Welfare Fund, a Fund created by MEA to help Indians who are in distress abroad. “This Fund, which is used to help Indians in distress abroad, is indeed a very creative solution to attain the goals of Good Governance”, he said.
Observing that Economic Diplomacy is an equally important pillar of any country’s diplomatic activity, the minister said making information easily, transparently and equitably available to all the stakeholders; is another key characteristic of Good Governance.
One-stop source of business information on India for foreign enterprises, and on foreign opportunities for Indian businesses, is a key in this respect. MEA’s Ind-Biz portal does just that, he said.
The minister expressed pride in the Ministry of External Affairs for undertaking note-worthy steps towards Good Governance in service delivery and for welfare of the citizens despite having relatively less public interface, as compared to other government offices; .
“Our actions have been right and timely, our aims are well placed. But there is always room for improvement. By definition, Good Governance, calls for continued improvement, be it in policy formulations or service delivery,” he said.
“As part of this continued self improvement, can we consider weaving in the targets of increased effectiveness and heightened empathy in delivering our services and redressing public grievances?” he questioned.
Expressing confidence that all officials disburse their duty with effectiveness in mind and empathically, the minister said, innovative practices, be it initiation of chat box facilities by Missions and Posts to address frequently asked questions or a 24 X 7 response systems by Consulate General of India in San Francisco; or the community outreach programs done by Pretoria and Kuwait; or the innovative ways in which our Mission in Moscow has undertaken out-reach initiatives to the Indian student communities in Russia, they need to be institutionalised.
“Creative solutions and best practices should be institutionalised, so that they do not wither away with change in personnel and personalities,” he added.