WHY DO SOME SCHEMES WORK AND OTHERS DON'T?
Updated: Feb 2
Mukesh, a middle-aged man living in a single room-rented house at Sir JJ Bandhu Camp, Vasant Kunj, New Delhi, is miserable. Having no clue about minimum wage law, he has been trying to pay off the rent of Rs. 8000 every month by working as a daily wage labourer for fifteen to twenty days a month. His earning is limited to Rs. 300 to 450 per day. The irony is that this could have been avoided, had he known that there is a law that guarantees a minimum wage per day and that there exists a scheme that might help by providing him with a house of his own. However, he did not have a clue. What is worse is that Mukesh is not alone. Thousands belonging to the marginalized sections have no idea about such government policies and schemes originally designed for the poor.
In a situation where people from these marginalized sections are entangled in such extremities of various socio-economic issues, they put faith in the government to look after them in tough times.
Neither is it the intention, as it has always been clear to uplift the poor, nor is it the lack of funding, but the implementation, which the government fails at.
The loopholes which give birth to the question as to why some schemes work, and others don’t are due to the unorganised functioning of the government, improper designing of the program without considering the ground realities, inefficient marketing of the schemes amongst the potential beneficiaries, and much-delayed evaluation and lack of monitoring reports.
Can the government’s interventions fulfil the expectation of uplifting the underprivileged with the disorganised organisational functioning of the government? The delegation of work in the government structure is haywire. The responsibility of ensuring that the underling shows up on time and works efficiently is delegated to one, but the responsibility of the payment of salaries to the other. Here comes the rise of a question on accountability: how can the team be efficient and effective with such a lack of accountability? Similarly, funds being transferred from central to state governments have to pass through the perplexed anatomy of numerous independent and autonomous agencies, eventually raising questions like where does the money get stuck? How much money has been received, and for what purpose? In such a case where the government is the entity whose place cannot be taken care of by any other stakeholder, how will they ensure that their interventions can eradicate the prevailing social issues with such a convoluted structure?
Inappropriate designing of the programs by the policymakers or the highest level of government officials can be accounted for as another reason why the interventions do not work. Policymakers come up with great ideas and schemes without considering the ground realities and other logistical conditions of the potential beneficiaries; this can be attributed to a situation where the scheme sounds great, but not ‘doable’, eventually leading to ineffective implementation.
The lower-mid level implementation officers, who can be the best possible means to keep a check on the right implementation of schemes and programs, are usually busy in their daily paperwork, forgetting what their real task is. This should again be attributed to the disorganised functioning of the government structures, where too much pressure is put on completing the straightforward paperwork, instead of figuring out creative ways to implement and evaluate the program. Higher officials such as bureaucrats, policymakers, policy analysts and evaluators should come up with an effective evaluation and feedback mechanism. Once the plight is seen through the lens of reality and a realistic assessment is done, the focus should now shift towards the mentioned changes from the evaluation and monitoring reports to the groundwork implementation process. Another reason for the failure of many of the interventions is that the system has been unable to create awareness amongst the potential beneficiaries. There is no systematic attempt where the ground mobilisation approach is adapted to create awareness about the flagship programs of the government. So, what’s the point of such interventions if they’re not reaching everybody they are meant for?
By consolidating the mentioned suggestions and bringing them into action, the government will be able to provide a better end-product by producing a more efficient delivery mechanism for dealing with the conundrum of poor implementation.
About the author: "With a keen interest in Governance, Jatin has made a transition in his career from Filmmaking to Public Policy. He has interned with GRAAM, Outline India, Human Rights Forum and North East Study Centre."
Cover image: Sanjay Kanojia/AFP