What are the plans of the government regarding transparency and accountability?
The government has come in power with a huge mandate raising the expectation level and its performance would be keenly watched by the media and public. Some specific references to transparency and accountability from the address of the Hon'ble President of India to the joint session of Parliament, delivered Monday- 09 June, 2014 are being reproduced below.
Transparency and Accountability:
Paras 26 and 34: Government will create a policy environment that will be predictable, transparent and fair. Clear and transparent policies on allocation of critical natural resources such as coal, mineral and spectrum will be formulated.
Para 33: Environment and forest clearance systems will be made more predictable, transparent and time-bound. Para 22: Government will make Digital India as the backbone of the Government's working. (Looks like Bangladesh's programme of Digital Bangladesh may have influenced this idea.) The National e-Governance plan will be expanded to cover all offices form the top to the bottom. Social media will be used as a tool for participative governance- engaging people directly in policy-making and the administration.
Para 21: Rules under the Lokpal Act will be framed in conformity with its provisions. A system will be put in place for transparent and timebound delivery of services. Governance processes will be revisited to make them citizen-friendly, corruption free and accountable. Government records will be digitised for improving accessibility.
Para 39: A policy of zero tolerance 'terrorism', 'extremism', 'riots' and 'crime' will be pursued. A national action plan will be chalked out in consultation with the States to curb communal violence and tackle the challenges posed by left-wing extremism. Police infrastructure and security forces will be modernised by equipping them with the latest technology.
Para 24: The number of lower courts and judges will be doubled through a mission mode project. Alternative dispute resolution mechanisms will be emphasised.
Some other issues of interest:
Para 8: Reform of the public distribution system (PDS) using best practice form the States.
Paras 9 and 32: Providing urban amenities in rural areas (the Rurban idea, whatever that means in the Indian context, because the term refers to settlements that are on the outskirts of an urban environment in other countries. In India thousand of villages may be scores of kilometers away from the nearest urban environment). 100 new cities with world class amenities will be built.
Para 10: Adoption of National Land Use Policy for scientific identification and use of non-cultivable land for developmental purposes.
Para 12: New Education Policy will be developed to nurture youth with the 'right kind of education', skill set and opportunity.
Paras 14-15: National Health Mission and Swach Bharat Mission will be launched. [It is not clear what will happen to the existing health missions and the Nirmal Bharat Abhiyan (Total Sanitation Campaign).]
Paras 16-17: Van Bandhu Kalyan Yojana will be launched for the Schedule Tribes and tribal hamlets will be connected with electricity and roads. National Madrasa Modernization Programme will be launched.
Para 19: Commitment to 33% reservation for women in Parliament and zero tolerance policy against violence against women.
Para 30: A fast track, predictable and investment-friendly mechanism will be put in place for public private partnership projects.
Para 31: The international civil nuclear agreements will be operationalised and nuclear projects will be developed for civilian purposes.
Para 40: Private sector participation will be encouraged in the design and production of defence equipment.
Para 44: SAARC will be revitalised.
Based on e-mail sent by Venkatesh Nayak