A two-day national seminar on “Making Democratic Governance Work: Reinventing Public Delivery Systems in India” was organized by the Department of Political Science at the FTK-CIT seminar hall on 5th and 6th of November, 2013. Delegates and participants from various universities across India and other countries presented their papers highlighting the current paradigms in the discourse.
In his inaugural speech, the Head, Department of Political Science, Professor Badrul Alam introduced the department and the national seminar. “The national seminar that this department is holding will focus on how democratic governance works and the need to reinvent public service deliverance system in India,” he said.
Professor Badrul Alam maintained that the questions to be answered actually are whether the democratic governance systems work better to ensure improved public delivery system because it is democratic. “Do public powers in democracies necessarily match human welfare and better public outcomes? Are democracy and good governance separate and distinct phenomenon? Is Democratic governance good for economic prosperity translated into concrete citizen entitlements?” he said.
“We are in the age of new Public Management (NPM) which calls for a transformative change in the role of government in society and also in the government-citizen relations. In this era of liberalization when the government is not a holistic service provider there is an urgent need to improve our public service delivery system with innovative strategies,” said Prof. Alam.
He further said that the department of political science had chosen this theme so as to contribute to the debate and discourse on democratic governance and public service delivery system in India in all its aspects and manifestations.
After the inaugural speech, Vice chancellor of Jamia Millia Islamia, Professor S.M. Sajid gave his presidential remarks. He said that the theme of the seminar is very relevant. “The question we need to ask is, are we the strongest democracy? We are still struggling with making the democracy strong enough and making the rights of the people realize in the wake of high illiteracy, ignorance, deprivation of basic needs and services like education, health, safe drinking water, acute malnutrition,” he said.
The vice chancellor said that accountability is the key issue. “The entitlement and the services—delivery systems, the major topic of this seminar—I think work culture which is required for the service delivery system is lacking.” He said that good governance needs high sense of accountability and it has to come from the top, from the political bosses.
He said that to materialize the development, India has to see women playing a major role. “When they are in a position to make critical decisions, the quality of their decision making is far superior. The fifty percent of the population definitely deserve a better position to ensure there is accountability in the system,” said the vice chancellor.
Professor Arvind Sharma, ex-vice Chancellor of Central University, Mizoram, in his key note address said that the decisive influence in shaping of India’s position to the question of country’s delivery systems was exercised by the doctrine of emphasis embedded in particular intellectual orientations developed in the West. “New Public Management has been one such doctrine,” he said. He further said the second major source of influence was the Total Quality Management (TQM).
He also spoke about the Citizens Charter bill but said that it has been held hostage by the Jan Lokpal politics. “This salience of the package that this bill offers lies in erecting a scheme under which any violation of the citizen charter induces a time bound grievance. If a grievance remains unaddressed in a stipulated time, the defaulting function will attract disciplinary action,” said Professor Sharma. He further said that the bill will nail the bureaucracy down.
The seminar was divided into six technical session spread over two days. In the sessions the paper presenters threw light on various issues like e-governance, urban civic services, administrative reforms and other relevant issues. The seminar focused on good governance practices in the post-globalized era in different sectors like infrastructure, education, health, urban civic services initiated by either the Centre or different states which have reformed the public deliverance system and visibly affected the citizens.
The seminar was very much inter-disciplinary as many departments from Jamia Millia Islamia from Department of Social Work to Sociology to Mass Communication Research Centre (MCRC) as well as from other universities participated.