Due to increased corruption and diminishing transparency in our democracy, our government is facing one of the most daunting tasks of reaching and helping the real target groups of our society. The government allocates funds aiming to improve the condition of impoverished people of our society but due to rampant corruption, these people are able to get nothing more than a negligible amount out of this sum. Sometimes, the situation seems really dark and bleak but one must remember that every problem has a solution and the government is trying hard to implement these solutions. Having adopted the socialistic approach, the Indian governments have always been determined in ensuring a just and egalitarian society for all its citizens.
Our government aims to follow the footsteps of a modern welfare state but it faces some limitations owing to the large size of our population. It cannot provide higher education, healthcare facilities and employment to its citizens as fundamental rights simply because it has got limited resources. But since independence, the government has been making numerous attempts to reduce social and economic inequalities in the country. Over the years, the executives have been proposing various creative and innovative ideas to address the issues of hunger, poverty and unemployment. Mid-day Meal Scheme, Direct Benefit Transfer, Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana, Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana etc. are some of the examples.
Here are some other unique ways which can help tackle with these societal problems —
1. Cognitive employment programmes
The government should initiate such employment programmes through which society can get multi-dimensional benefits. For example, the government can launch the much needed ‘Cycle Revolution‘ in the country. Under this programme, the government will be promoting the use of bicycles for short distance rides. As a part of this programme, the government can ensure that the disadvantaged groups get employed and become part of the manufacturing process which will be carried out on a large scale. Also, the destitute people who cannot afford motor vehicles will not feel left out. The society will be a better place to live for all as it will result in pollution control, good health of people and poverty reduction through employment.
Programmes like MGNREGA ensured wages to people but most of the time, wages were given without getting any work done in return which was mainly due to improper management and lack of direction. In the long run, the state won’t be able to afford such programmes and thus, the needy people will not get any permanent solution to their problems.
2. Overhauling of Public Distribution System
The Public Distribution System is crippled with corruption all across the country. The fair price shop owners are involved in malpractices like underweighting and adulteration. So, we need to review the system and mend it accordingly. For example, ‘Food ATMs‘ can be installed in place of fair price shops. In addition to this, biometrics can be used for identification purposes along with identification cards. Keeping in view the large number of illiterate people, literacy and technological glitches are some challenges involved in using these ‘Food ATMs‘ but things will change with time for sure.
3. Alteration in the implementation of EWS quota
The identification of people belonging to EWS quota should not be done solely on the basis of annual income and property ownership details. There should be a comprehensive survey about the consumption levels, calorie intake per day, number of employed persons in the family, etc. so that the hoax EWS applicants may be identified.
The government has provided 10 percent reservation to the economically weaker section in educational institutions and government jobs but it is obvious that not everyone can be accommodated under this provision. The government can also start some special startup initiatives for people belonging to the EWS category.
4. Reservation of low income groups in legislature
It is quite agreeable that it would be easier for the government to reach the low income groups of the society if they become a part of the government itself. If any section of society is becoming vulnerable, then its political participation is necessary. Therefore, we should have reservations for these groups at least in the local government bodies. The state or the concerned political party can come forward for funding the election campaign in the constituencies reserved for these people. This will help us ensure that the gap between the haves and have nots in the society does not get widened and poor do not get suppressed by the rich.
5. Encouragement through rewards
The government can reward those who strive hard to improve their lot and come up to the periphery of the poverty line. By doing so, these people will be encouraged to become a part of the APL (Above Poverty Line ) group. This benefit can be given in the form of cash/kind or a small productive capital (for example, a sewing machine ) and thus, can be termed as ‘Marginal Benefit’. This programme can help in identifying those leisure-loving, lazy and ignorant people who voluntarily choose to remain poor and hence, will prove to be helpful for the government in reaching the real target groups.
In a democratic country, it is the responsibility of the government to take care of the disadvantaged groups of the society and provide everyone with a level playing field. There are multiple challenges before the government but it has to fulfil its promise of ensuring social justice to all its citizens. So, it would be very appropriate to say that governing in a democratic country is much like parenting!