General Studies Paper 2 (Indian Governance): Citizen Charter

citizen charter

IAS Junior Mains Answer Writing June-Sep 2019 Schedule (Click Here)

 

Syllabus: General Studies Paper 2 (Indian Governance)

 

Citizens’ Charters are an effective tool for accountability in public service. However, over time, it has fallen into disuse. Suggest measures that can make these charters effective and Citizen Friendly.

 

Introduction:

Good governance is essential for sustainable development, both economic and social. The three essential aspects emphasised in good governance are transparency, accountability and responsiveness of the administration. Citizen charter has become an essential tool to achieve the said goal.

Body:

What is Citizens’ Charter?

A Citizens’ Charter is a document that outlines the commitment of a public body towards standard, quality and timeframe of service delivery along with grievance redress mechanism. It makes a public institution transparent and accountable and thus can be an effective tool to engage the civil society and to curb corruption.

How citizen charter is an effective tool?

  • Accountability & Transparency:
    • A well framed charter help citizens acquire knowledge about functioning, service delivery, expected quality of service thus promoting transparency & public can held them accountable in case of non-compliance.
  • Efficient:
    • Charter help to obtain goal in a time bound manner because of well laid out strategy beforehand.
    • Thus delay is generally minimized and makes the process cost effective & time efficient
  • Active citizens:
    • with the advent of charters citizens can play participative role in democracy , thus involvement of citizens in the process makes it citizen –centric
  • Grievance Redressal :
    • Various tribunals & judiciary is marred with challenges, in such cases a well framed charter help resolve issues efficiently avoiding the need to go to courts & tribunals.

Efforts made by Govt:

  • Established information and facilitation centre
    • Create awareness among citizen about govt programme and service
  • Citizen charter bill
    • This bill aimed at providing service in time bound manner
  • Sevottam model
    • Sevottam model, a quality management framework applicable to public service delivery organisations, in all its departments. Service Delivery Excellence Model provides a framework for organisations to assessand improve the quality of service delivery to citizens.

 

Why citizen charter fallen into disuse?

 Citizen Charters have fallen into disuse mainly due to following deficiencies in charters:

  • Citizen charters are implemented in India only in letter and not in spirit. They are nothing but pious statements of intention which do not contain any objective goals.
  • Poor design and content: Critical information that end users need to hold agencies accountable are missing in charters.
  • Lack of consultation: End-users and NGOs are not consulted when Charters are drafted.
  • Inadequate groundwork: Non-familiarity of the service providers with the philosophy, goals and main features of charters.
  • Lack of public awareness: Effective efforts of communicating and educating the public about the standards of delivery have not been undertaken.
  • Resistance to change: Vested interests work for stalling the Citizens’ Charter altogether or in making it toothless.
  • Lack of revision and periodic updating of charters.
  • Absence of legal backing to charters.

 

Measures needed to make charters an effective tool.

  • Citizen charter in itself cannot ensure a responsive, effective administration unless employees are trained, sensitized and deviant behaviour punished.
  • Citizen charters should be drafted in consultation with the stakeholders i.e. public, NGOs, media etc which ensures citizen participation in administration, transparency and accountability.
  • Periodic evaluation of the charters should be done to measure their implementation and address the deficiencies in their design.
  • Remedy for non-action: Charters should clearly spell out the remedy/ penalty/ compensation in case of lapse in execution.
  • Citizens awareness and engagement: There is a need for wider publicity of the Charter through print and social media.
  • Regular feedback should be taken from the end-users.
  • Rating of public agencies:Visitors feedback can be taken as one of the parameters.
  • Sevottam model can be used to evaluate the effectiveness of the Charters.
  • Creation of database on consumer grievances and redress.
  • Allocating adequate funds for capacity development.

 

Conclusion:

The Citizens’ Charters have given desirable results in various countries such as the United Kingdom, Malaysia, Australia and Canada. Thus, In India citizen charter can be a game changer in public administration provided the problems of its formulation, human resource development, capacity building etc are taken care of. Citizen charter in itself cannot ensure a responsive, effective administration unless employees are trained, sensitized and deviant behaviour punished, business process re-structured, provision of mechanism for complaint redressal provided. Citizen charter formulation without public participation, adequate funds for capacity development would impact achieving required goals.

 

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