Citizen charters must clearly specify time within which any service can be availed: VP

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New Delhi, Mar 20 (PTI) Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu on Saturday suggested that essential services should be streamlined and citizen charters like the Right to Information (RTI) must clearly specify the time within which any service can be availed.

He said the ultimate test of good governance is the improvement in the quality of life of the people and getting basic services should not be a struggle for the common man.

Releasing a book 'Bringing Governments and People Closer' by M Ramachandran, former secretary to Government of India, Naidu said the expectations of the people boil down to 'easy, transparent, hassle-free' systems and procedures in public offices, as outlined by the author.

He also agreed with the author that inordinate time-taking processes are the main reason people get hassled in public offices.

Noting that corruption as a major factor in impeding service delivery, he said it is possible to eliminate corruption in public offices only through streamlining of procedures and greater accountability to the public.

Naidu also talked about importance of decentralisation and devolution of powers to local bodies. Referring to the 73rd and 74th constitutional amendments, he called for more effective devolution of listed 29 subjects to the local bodies.

Speaking about the role of legislators, he suggested that they should take initiative in reviewing the implementation of the policies, highlight efficiencies and deficiencies, and make suggestions in the legislatures.

Suggesting that this should change by better streamlining, Naidu also called for greater accountability and time-bound disposal of grievances, using mechanisms like Centralised Public Grievance Redress and Monitoring System (CPGRAMS).

He also welcomed the author's suggestion of introducing a new 'ease of common man's interaction with government index'.

'Processes should be streamlined and citizen charters must clearly specify the time within which any service can be availed, just like RTI,' the vice president said.

He also suggested making citizens active partners in national development, as he noted the importance of people's involvement in programmes like Swachch Bharat and the country's response to COVID-19.

'Good governance becomes a reality when people are seen not merely as recipients of benefits but as agents of change,' he said.

Democratic governments should be close to people, be very responsive to their needs and adopt a caring and facilitating role, he said.

Naidu also stressed the need for more 'trust based governance', in order to improve facilitation of services.

Complimenting the government for the improvements in this regard, he noted that self-attestation is deemed sufficient for many documents now, as are digital documents. He cited the instance of tax reforms, which brought in faceless assessment and appeals, eliminating the physical interface between tax authorities and taxpayers.

Naidu also observed that technological advancements have brought governments closer to people. With initiatives like Digital India, Aadhar-linked bank accounts, the use of geo-tagging to monitor schemes like Swachch Bharat, technology has proved to be a game-changer in governance, he said.

While calling for more such innovations, the Vice President stressed that due attention must be paid to not exclude even a single citizen. In this regard, he suggested the extensive use of more Indian languages in all aspects of governance.

Languages understood by people must be used in offices, schools, courts and public places, he underlined.

Advocating an 'outcome-oriented approach' to governance, the Vice President called for bridging the gap between the government's intent and implementation.

For this, he advised the governments to measure the quality of their service delivery and to act on this feedback. He noted the adoption of this real-time outcome-measurement approach in the DISHA platform for schools and the Saubhagya portal for rural electrification, among others.

'Core mantra thus should be to transform 'vision to mission' and 'mission to implementation' in the least possible time and in the most efficient way,' he said. PTI PR ZMN