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BW Businessworld

Public Service In India: Challenges And Solutions

Public Service day (23 June), designated by United Nation General Assembly in 2003, highlights the importance of people who work every day for the success of the nation.

“I can assure you, public service is stimulating, proud and lively enterprise. It is not just a way of life, it is a way to live fully,” said Lee Hamilton, member of United States, House of Representatives.

It is almost impossible for any nation to run smoothly without dedicated public sector workers. Public Service day (23 June), designated by United Nation General Assembly in 2003, highlights the importance of people who work every day for the success of the nation.

There are glaring inefficiencies when it comes to public service delivery in India. A study conducted by Karthik Muralidharan, associate professor at University of California found that 25 per cent of teachers in government schools and 40 per cent of medical workers in government health clinics remain absent from work.

The study also highlights that the condition is even more miserable in poor states. For instance, 70 per cent of doctors were found absent in Bihar according to the study. A major for reason for this could be the non-connection of salary with service delivery. Neither there is any incentive for good performance, nor there is any pay cut for poor performance.

Shankar Agarwal, secretary, ministry of Labour and Employment however differs on the conclusions of the study. He told BW Businessworld, “We have a pluralistic society and in spite of that our government employees work extremely well. If we are among the fastest growing economies of the world, it is because of our government employees. They deliver in the best possible manner.”

One solution to this problem would be to link a portion of the salary to objective measures of performance. Improving the quality of public service delivery system for all Indians is a critical component of ensuring 'inclusive growth'. There is more accountability in the private sector in contrast to the public sector.

“The system of incentives on good performance is already there and an employee is demoted on bad performance, it’s just that we have to work more on monitoring. We are yet to achieve 100 per cent in this area but perfection can’t be achieved in a day, it takes time,” Agarwal adds.

A report by PriceWaterHouseCoopers on public delivery system suggests five steps to better public service in a country which are:-‘understanding customer centricity, setting common goals for connected government, multi-level transformation of organizational structure, delivering on promise and innovation.’

The public sector in India is largest service provider and any positive improvement in it will impact millions of people.




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