Beneficiary-centric processes and policies

September 14, 2011 at 1:49 am | Posted in Blogroll, Out of my mind | Leave a comment

This morning I read a news article that our state (MP) govt is introducing a policy that the govt officer would be required to go the villages and discuss about their needs to finalize the district level development plan. After success of a pilot scheme run in five districts, it would now be implemented across the whole state. Last week, we saw an award winning Marathi movie “Ek cup chya” meaning “A cup of tea”. It is about a bus conductor who in one month receives an electricity bill of Rs. 73000/-. He refuses to go the route of striking a deal over a cup of tea. His connection is cut-off. Rest of the movie is about how he fights the system and the kind of ridiculous excuses he has to face. Ultimately, with the help of an NGO and RTI (Right to information) act, he wins.

Such cases make one wonder whether we are approaching policies and processes in the right spirit. The primary justification for their existence is to help the beneficiaries. However, they are normally conceived and designed by those who are responsible for executing them. Hence, the interests of the beneficiaries tend to get secondary importance. The problem increases where those forming the policies are more powerful and their interests clash with those of the beneficiaries. Their genuine interests must be taken into consideration but not at the cost of the interests of the beneficiaries.

What is the solution? I can think of the following pointers.

  • Develop a culture of involving the beneficiaries before the policies and processes are finalized
  • Have a well established periodic review system to check whether the beneficiaries are really benefiting
  • Encourage finding innovative solutions which take care of the beneficiaries without adversely affecting the genuine interests of the policy makers
  • Don’t attach too much value to standardization. For ease of implementation, some standardization is useful. But it should not be at the cost of the beneficiaries
  • Don’t attach too much value to objectivity. Human beings are diverse; so are situations. Multiple good practices to choose from are better than single best practices

These are my thoughts but I am keen to have your inputs and suggestions.

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