Sunday, July 29, 2007

A lot in a name!!

If only government knew what its officials know

The other day, I got this ‘rare’ opportunity to ‘candidly’ interact with a seasoned bureaucrat and in the course of which, I realised that this gentleman has mastered the art of being articulately vague. Throughout the discussion, which lasted for couple of hours, he sounded conclusively intelligent and intelligently inconclusive. I also apprehended that he is well versed with the country’s problems but his solutions remained as fuzzy and formless as his own designation.

Whole of this got me into thinking mode: why is it that people with such wisdom and prudence, tend to be so unclear on issues pertaining to national importance, particularly at a position where they can make everlasting positive changes. Somehow my past experiences, coupled with this one made me theorise that we have purposefully built a system, instituting such ambiguity. For, ambiguity has helped in maintaining status quo and our inimitable variant of non-deliverance has thrived upon the same. A great majority of the governance structures and frameworks are devoid of socially strategic objectives and publicly accountable tasks. Successive governments have perpetuated this stagnation and in order that they can continue their inconclusive rhetoric. In view of all that, tall claims and poor delivery have been the hallmarks of our nation.

To turn the wheel the other way round, imagine if we could change the avatars of few of our Ministries and government bodies, and rechristen them not just with new names but with those that are bereft of any ambiguity and clearly defines the purpose(s). Sample this: why is it that Planning Commission can’t become Planning and Implementation Commission or for that matter the Ministry for Agriculture cannot become Ministry for Farmer’s Income Generation. Similarly, Ministry of Labour can turn into Ministry for Productive Employment Generation and Ministry of HRD can become Ministry of Education for All. Along the same lines Ministry for Health and Family Welfare can be renamed as Ministry for Health for All, Ministry for External Affairs can be called Ministry for Geo-Politics and Strategy, Ministry of Culture can be baptized as Ministry of Culture Conservation, and more. All these unsullied names are again an extension of my wishful thinking and they could always be replaced with better ones but, the purpose here is to clear the ambiguity from the top and make it more objective driven. This exercise can further be drilled down to the various government divisions, departments and designations to bring about that sense of purpose and accountability. All in all, this intervention exercise can bring about a radical shift and reengineer the public governance.

We take so much of an effort to make Madras a Chennai, Calcutta a Kolkata or for that matter Bombay a Mumbai, which does not serve any purpose other than political. Why not put the same efforts in the directions whereby India acquires a new name for itself? A name may not make much of a difference in Shakespearean literary world, but in public governance, above all in an economy trying to emerge from disorder, a name can does have an aim.


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