A Citizen’s Letter to his Chief Minister


 

To                                                                                             30th April, 2020

Sri. K. Chandrasekhara Rao garu,

Hon’ble Chief Minister, Government of Telangana, Hyderabad  

Sir, 

The management of the Lockdown due to COVID 19 by your Government and the Administration has shown exceptional levels of efficiency, which normally the bureaucracy is not considered to be capable of. No doubt, your personal leadership has contributed to it. All the government officers have been working very intensively with great devotion during this health emergency, which most probably may not be over in the next few months to come. The Lockdowns have proved to be a very wise decision in the Indian conditions. But, all the officers cannot indefinitely continue to fight directly the Pandemic, suspending their own other normal administrative responsibilities, which are also vital for the survival of the country, such as supporting the productive activities, including the production of the ‘essential commodities’ while enhancing employment opportunities and economic growth. The officers also have to prepare the ground to attract foreign investments and industries and to produce more than in the past for exports.

In general, it is normal that when there is a natural or man-made calamity or an  emergency, it is the whole society, spearheaded by its active civil society forces that usually jump into action with personal sacrifices. The best role the Government usually should play is to facilitate and coordinate the immediate efforts of those social forces, and to deploy its  energies and resources for long term relief and rehabilitation projects. Though the elected political authorities might consider it their duty to assure the population, but attempting to or even giving the impression that the Administration can and will take care of all the problems of  such emergencies till they are all solved, without public cooperation would be a wrong strategy, and experience proves that it would never be accomplished. The government also cannot attempt to build its own ad hoc infrastructures to meet all kinds of emergencies and run them efficiently for long periods and make timely financial disbursements. Sooner than later, inefficiencies will occur, without mentioning corruption and there would be public dissatisfaction, providing fertile ground for political opposition to agitate. Political controversies paralyse the Administration from pursuing the matters transparently and directly. The Governmental hierarchy in its anxiety to do everything quickly and efficiently may have to ignore some civil rights concerns, which situation would be favourably accepted by the people concerned as well as the intelligentsia in the society for a very short period since it is called an emergency. But its prolonged exercise would be resented as ‘authoritarianism’ by one and all. India has already been once traumatised by an Emergency declared by one of its former prime ministers.

Hence, after a month’s valiant efforts, without waiting for the post-Lock down period, the authorities should now share the management of the crisis with other non-official social activists who are already in the field i.e. the Corona warriors, volunteers, philanthropists, NGOs, RWAs, senior citizens associations, Red Cross, as well as the professional chambers and councils and many other civil society organisations, in cooperation with the Urban Community Development, Health, Medical and Police staff. It would only be a restructuring of the present modes of public cooperation, which is in an ad hoc manner. It is evident, for example in the most important programme of feeding and providing shelter to the needy, which is being manned entirely with the help of the NGOs. All are strictly observing self-confinement, while some are producing masks, PPEs and even ventilators for free distribution.

        This re-structuring of cooperation would also imply linking up with the existing mechanisms in GHMC, and if necessary reviving others, which are dormant. I have two mechanisms particularly in mind to mention: There is an Aasara Committee which is a registered body of the senior citizens and the GHMC officials in all the 30 circles. Nearly 2 lakh senior citizens carry the GHMC card for their identity. The city is endowed with nearly250 senior citizens associations, each one with around 200 contributing members, including many retired government officials, professionals and managers. Since an Additional Commissioner heads the Central Aasara Committee, it can easily be re-inforced and geared up to match the tasks.

        There are also the statutorily-constituted Ward Committees in all the 150 GHMC wards, theoretically composed of 20 members from the local civil society organisations and the representatives of the Area Sabhas held for every five thousand population. They are headed by the corporator. Since 23rd March, almost every week, the Chief Minister has been appealing to the corporators and the ward committee members to be active in the field i.e.in their own areas.Wherever necessary, the Deputy Commissioners can co-opt the local RWAs to complete the representation. He also mentioned similarly the role of the recently constituted Standing Committees in the Panchayats in the rural areas with the participation of the civil society activists like the Mahila Mandalis, Self-Help group leaders, Senior Citizens Associations and Resident Welfare Associations. In the case of the municipalities, the Ward Committees have as one of their functions precisely to plan and act during the emergencies like the present one. The slowed down activities of maintaining a clean and green environment could be usefully continued adjoined into the citizens’ participation.

        In addition, in the context of COVID19, the Union Government has created a database of those healthcare professionals and volunteers. They are at present 1.25 crore: portal covidwarriors.gov.in. Further, there are about 30,000 effective national level NGOs, added to lakhs of local, district and state level civil society organisations and professional chambers or councils. Many of them are already mobilising their own resources, and they can further  mobilise as many funds as necessary locally and spend them locally without administrative costs. The Government can also maintain such a master portal of COVID warriors for the entire state.  

        Hence, the need of the hour is that the Minister for Municipal Administration and Urban Development to convene a consultative meeting with the representatives of the civil society organisations active in the State, as well as the representatives of the Chambers of Commerce and Industries, Councils of various professions, and secondly, to form thereupon ‘Parity’ or Joint Committees for planning and operations, so that the officers from other departments could be relieved to attend to their other important tasks. Such mutual aid among people would promote better human solidarity and understanding.

 Hoping that this sincere suggestion would reach up to your attention,

            Yours very sincerely, 

                    Rao VBJ Chelikani, 

        (A former associate of UNESCO, Paris.)

1 comment:

  1. The need of the hour for the Governments, to take the civil Society organisations into confidence, in fighting such deadly weapon - Corona. Hope the Govts to respond positively.

    ReplyDelete

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