Pradeep Kumar Panda
Odisha features as one of the least corrupt states in the recently released India Corruption Survey 2019. This is a befitting endorsement of the policy of zero tolerance towards corruption & principles of transparency through 5T Policy and Mo Sarkar Campaign espoused by Odisha.
Recently NITI Aayog, think tank of Government of India, also lauded 5T Policy of Odisha. On October 2, the Odisha government rolled out ‘Mo Sarkar’ (My Government), easily the most innovative plan CM Shri Naveen Patnaik has launched in his five terms in office to ensure the accountability of public officials in delivery of government services.
Based on five parameters—teamwork, technology, transparency, transformation and time limit (the 5Ts)—the scheme involves taking feedback from people on the quality and timeliness of the services and reward or punish officials on that basis.
Three of the 5 Ts existed in the Naveen government’s previous term too; the last two were added recently. Police stations and government hospitals have been taken up in the first phase of the program, which is to be gradually extended to other services.
A Department of 5T has been created to carry out the initiative under the CM’s direct supervision. The charge of this newly created department has been given to CM’s private secretary Mr. V. Karthikeyan Pandian.
The CM flagged off this new initiative by calling up visitors to police stations and hospitals selected randomly, and get their feedback on the quality of services they receive and the way they are treated in these establishments.
Its impact on accountability is visible and it has certainly raised expectations among people. The views of skeptics notwithstanding, government officials are a harried lot these days. Long used to sloth and lethargy, they have been on their toes to meet the new demands placed on them by the government even before the Mo Sarkar initiative gets underway.
The fears are not unfounded. Based on a performance review, scores of government staff have already been relieved of their services as part of the initiative to ensure accountability. Simultaneously, the government has started a massive crackdown on touts who ruled the roost in RTO offices and hospitals. Over 200 of them have been rounded up in the past few days. Sources in the government say they exercise to weed out middlemen from public utilities will continue in the days ahead.
To ensure better service delivery to the public in the Higher Education sector, CM has also approved a 5T action plan for the Higher Education Department. The action plan includes several new initiatives including the creation of a ‘Mo College’ platform in line with State Government’s ‘Mo School’ campaign to allow alumni and other interested individuals to contribute to the development of the college.
As per the action plan, the Department will also include a new provision of income criteria in the existing guidelines for the distribution of laptops among meritorious students every year. This is to exclude students from well-to-do families availing the scheme’s benefit. It will implement a uniform transfer policy for both the teaching and non-teaching staff of government-run higher educational institutions.
The Scholarship Guidelines will be changed and merit list prepared at district as well as block-level to ensure that all meritorious students from local areas get the benefit. A scholarship council will also be formed to maintain transparency in its distribution.
Meanwhile, the universities and colleges have been asked to excel in at least one or two subjects and work towards improving their ranking at the national level to attract more students from across the country and abroad. The department will also work towards opening career counseling cells and strengthening those which have already been established.
Exposure visit of students and faculties outside the state plan is also in the pipeline. It will also take measures to train and enhance the skill of urban poor students, stated a letter issued by the High Education Department to schools across the State.
As part of the new Mantra of the CM, the Department will monitor the attendance of faculties to ensure that they perform 7-hour duty every day. The minimum 75% attendance of students will also be made compulsory for appearing exams from the next academic session.
The policy includes steps like Mo College platform for alumni, Revision of guidelines for distribution of laptops; formation of Odisha Scholarship Council for scholarship distribution, Uniform transfer policy for teaching and non-teaching staff, Perform or Perish is the motto of the policy.
Perform or perish is the motto of the policy and has shown a clear visible impact in terms of accountability, good governance and transparency.
(The author is a New Delhi based Economist)