The performance of welfare schemes that are implemented for vulnerable sections is not so effective due to the absence of their awareness and active involvement at all stages of the policy process. Discuss (15 marks)

Mentor’s Comment

  • It’s an analytical question.
  • Performance, effectiveness, awareness and active involvement are the keywords in the question and demand of the question is to analyze relations between them in the context of the schemes for the vulnerable section of the society.
  • In the intro, state the importance of uniform development of all sections of the society and how that entails making special provisions and schemes for the development of the vulnerable section of the society to put them on equal footing.
  • In the body, analyze the interplay between the performance of the schemes for vulnerable and absence of their awareness and active involvement. The involvement of the stakeholder at all the stages of the policy is a sine qua non for the success of any policy. If stakeholders are absent at the formulation stage itself, the policy may not fail to address the concerns of the stakeholder. In the implementation stage, the lack of awareness among the intended beneficiaries deprives them of the benefits. These interconnected factors result in the ineffective implementation of the policy.
  • Conclude by stating the importance of involvement and awareness of the intended beneficiary for the success of any policy. 

Answer:

The Directive Principles of State Policy puts certain obligations on the state to provide social welfare schemes for the vulnerable sections of the society. Such schemes are conceptualized at the ministerial level and implemented at the grass-root level.

The Indian government has often been criticized for inadequate implementation and last-mile delivery of such schemes. One of the major reasons is that there is a lack of involvement of stakeholders in the policy-making for whom the policies are being made, in all the 3 stages of the policy process- policy formulation, implementation, evaluation.

Some examples of the issues with the schemes and how active involvement is missing:

Example 1

  • Despite the central government’s minimum support price scheme, it failed to support the marginal farmers. 
  • In 2018-19, just 12% of the 33 million farmers who were growing wheat availed of the government’s minimum support price (MSP), or the price at which it promises to buy 25 crops from farmers, regardless of their prevailing market price. 
  • The rest were sold in mandis, whose access was usually controlled by middlemen and where market prices are often below government MSPs. 
  • This is a case of lack of awareness among the farmers and also the price is not fixed based on the consultation with the farmers.

Example 2

  • The Beti Bachao Beti Padhao Scheme (BBBPS) is a flagship program run by the central government to ensure the survival, protection, and education of the girl child. 
  • The program has failed in a few districts because of a lack of policy implementation, diversion of funds and the failure of monitoring mechanisms. This is a case where stakeholders are not involved in the policy monitoring process.

Example 3

  • These are some of the common trends witnessed in the poor implementation of many schemes such as ICDS in Bihar, NREGA in Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Orissa, Midday Meal in Madhya Pradesh, Health Insurance Scheme in Maharashtra, Old Age Pension scheme in Chhattisgarh and Bihar and the Integrated Housing and Slum Development Program in Punjab and Himachal Pradesh among others.

Example 4

  • In 2013, in the Mid-day Meal tragedy in Bihar, 23 children were killed after eating contaminated cooked food, the flagship government scheme which provides lunch to nearly 120 million children in India every day facing lack of monitoring and hygiene, and also huge corruption.
  • The public distribution system has suffered because of the lack of identification and verification of the specified people. 
  • Today, if we analyze we will find the entire nation has only 35% of cards distributed among the BPL families under the BPL card scheme. But the quota is coming in full to all the covered states. 

Why the implementation of these schemes is hindered:

    • The inefficiency of executives: The reason of inefficiency can be attributed to improper monitoring, lack of accountability, corruption, and misalignment of incentives. 
    • According to CAG Report 2013, the MNREGA scheme failed in Bihar and Karnataka due to misappropriation and subversion of funds.
    • Insufficient monitoring by the central government, misalignment of incentives which encourage rent-seeking activities and finally, a lack of accountability which distorts the management of funds. 
    • Infrastructural issues: Lack of adequate facilities across sectors like health, education, transport, etc further deteriorates the chances of success of welfare schemes.
    • It can be said that there are several factors that hinder the last-mile delivery of welfare schemes in India. However, sometimes there are flaws in the policy design stage as well.
  • Design flaws
    • Political bias in schemes: Certain schemes are announced considering the political gains and not overall national interest. For ex, farm loan waivers across states were criticized by bankers as such practices are not good for the country’s credit culture.
    • Beneficiary identification: Use of SECC 2011 data which does not truly reflect the ground reality. Sometimes, those in need are left out.
    • Hence, the design flaws in the welfare schemes cannot be neglected. Both the implementation and design of schemes are equally relevant.
    • There is an example of exclusion in the ‘flawed design’ of the contributory Atal Pension Scheme. 

Way forward

  • There are examples of successful implementation of schemes when the overall goal is collectively shared among the citizens. Government adequately tackled several diseases such as polio, malaria, and HIV when the target was well-publicized and clear.
  • The policies are made in ministries but implemented at the state, district and village levels. Hence, there is a need to strengthen grassroots governance. Also, proper feedback should be channelized to the policymakers to modify the systemic flaws.
  • Apart from the participation of citizens, the need of the hour is to simplify procedures, incentivize performance, reduce red-tape and make the best use of technology to achieve the desired goals. 

Good governance does not occur by chance. It must be demanded by citizens and nourished explicitly and consciously by the nation-state. It is, therefore, necessary that the citizens are allowed to participate freely, openly and fully in the planning process of schemes meant for them. The efforts of the present government on the principle of “Reform, Perform, Transform” seems to be in the right direction.

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Dakshina Moorthy
Dakshina Moorthy
2 years ago

Please review the answer

NJ_00
NJ_00
2 years ago

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Chester
Chester
2 years ago

MOJO0204R00N55952566