Archive for July, 2009

President’s Helpline

Rastrapati Bhawan has added a helpline – one can lodge a grievance and get online status updates. I haven’t tried it, but hoping this works well!

The Minimum Viable Accountability Product

The lack of a proper law to ensure that public grievances are addressed appropriately is fast becoming a common public grievance. A Right to Accountability Act, along the lines of the Right to Information Act, has been proposed in the July 14th edition of the Hindustan Times.
In my perception, there are two problems with the proposal as described in the paper:

a. The proposal for a Right to Accountability suffers from the same limitation as the current Right to Information Act, which is that the final arbiters on each matter are the Information Commissioners, whose financial and social incentives are aligned with those of the the government and its officials, and not with the wishes of the people. The Information Commissioners refuse to penalize the govt officers withholding information, and there is little that an appellant can do in this situation.
It can be anticipated that Accountability Commissioners would not buck this trend.

b. The fact that information has been withheld can be proven far more easily (or does not need to be proved) than government negligence in a particular case. Negligence, if reported by an individual, can in many cases simply be denied by the government. If the individual does not prove negligence, it becomes a case of accepting the complainant’s word against the government servant’s, something that the government will never do.

Added to this is the biggest hurdle that the proposal doesn’t talk about.
c. Political resistance will be very high to a law that seeks to make the establishment accountable.
The demand for a law that proposes to bring about total or near-total accountability is effectively a demand for revolution, which is unlikely. Only investments in incremental change are likely to pay off.

Whenever a discussion about the Indian government and the need for change takes place in the public domain, emotion often tends to overshadow the need for pragmatism. The discussion needs to be focussed not on the grand vision of how accountability will be achieved in India, but the first step. The brainstorming should be concentrated not on the law that will give powers to every indifferent citizen to police any errant politician/bureaucrat, but the enabling legislation that will give tooth to the activists and people who are motivated enough to want to make a change. The Minimum Viable Accountability Product.

Hopefully, the discussion about such an accountability law can be started in this forum.

Grievance Registration System – Delhi

Let me start my first post on the Delhi Govt – Grievance Registration System.

Delhi govt call its Grievance Registration System , Paper less – AAP   KI    SUNWAI

As an complaintant one need to login in :

He has to submit the nature of grievance with the concerned Delhi Government Department through online application form . At the end complaint/grievance number is generated where he can check the status of his application.

The complaint is routed to the call centre who works on it and then pass it to the concerned department for there action.  After receiving the reply the system update the status.


Grievance Registration System – Government Of India

I would like to share , discuss and invite opinions of all the readers of this article. Every state & UT in India has its own Grievance Registration System. Where a complainant or any one who thinks that the system to be challenged to work for them, as they have the right to do so because they pay taxes to the government.  In the coming weeks i will be posting the processes of all the State & UT ( Mentioned Below in alphabetical Order ) where one can get the information. Firstly i will be focusing on the National Capital Territory – Delhi.

Andaman & Nicobar (UT)
Andhra Pradesh
Arunachal Pradesh
Chandigarh (UT)
Dadra and Nagar Haveli (UT)
Daman and Diu (UT)
Delhi (UT)
Himachal Pradesh
Jammu and Kashmir
Lakshadweep (UT)
Madhya Pradesh
Puducherry (UT)
Tamil Nadu
Uttar Pradesh
West Bengal

West Bengal

Performance of Elected Representatives

I had prepared a short note for a group focused on electoral reforms.  The first few lines of the note follow

We are concerned citizens who are not experts seeking simple solutions to monitoring the performance of our elected representatives.

To us the system should

  • Be fair and unbiased with high data integrity
  • The data collection burden should be minimal
  • The performance system should help in achieving the national goals of better governance and quicker development
  • It should follow the “KISS” principle ( Keep it Short and Simple)

With these in mind we have prepared this paper for use by the Election Commission. We believe that the performance monitoring is an integral part of the mission of the Election Commission and therefore they are the body that should be funded and charged with responsibility of developing and then continually improving the system.

For those who want to read the full note it is avaliable in my Slideshare area. This is just a starting point for anyone who wants to work in this area. I have limited expertise in this area so am unlikely to get actively involved beyond sharing this note.


Right to Information – Usage study

RaaG excerpt in Indian ExpressIndian Express published an interesting excerpt on the usage of Right to Information. The base study has been done by RTI Assessment & Analysis Group, and their website has much more detailed information. The presentation below captures some of it.

In my view, the relevance of this act will multiply several folds as more and more people know about it, and citizens start using this rather than just NGOs and activists. Also, from the presentation, it seems clear that the OD challenges earlier referred to on for other governmental functions are equally relevant here – from PIOs not knowing about it, to not wanting to answer, to not having the requisite training. An integral part of this might be the incentive (or penalty) system that one can implement. It seems that the current penalty system in place lacks enforcement, partially due to the realization that the enablers for PIOs are not in place yet.

UFA Movement Overview


At the outset heartiest congrats for starting this blog. I look forward to contributing and learning. We  have started a movement to bring Universal Financial Services (UFA) to every Indian by 2013. I am going to make all members of the UFA movement aware of Next India as some of them may want to subscribe and/or contribute.  Thanks for adding UFA to the Next India blog roll. In this post I am making all readers of Next India aware of UFA but later I intend to contribute/learn on other topis as well. The overview follows

UFA or Universal Financial Access is scalable microfinance using innovation and no subsidies.

Microfinance is the ability to provide micro – savings, payments, loans, insurance investment and pensions profitably and experts are unanimous that microfinance improves lives and is a key enabler in the battle against poverty. High costs have prevented microfinance from scaling. Innovation and technology can be used to eliminate the high cost problem.

UFA will give every Indian self confidence and a path to financial independence. We have started a movement to get our PM to declare UFA by 2013 a national priority as soon as possible. With this clear signal we believe private capital will rush in and find ways to achieve the goal. The movement is about what needs to be done and not how it should be done. It is agnostic to business or technology models.

India has already done this in telecom where we have near universal telecom access and the government has made money. This gives us confidence that if we have the will we can achieve UFA by 2013. Please browse our website   and if you feel inspired please join the movement and get others both institutions and individuals to join. The movement also has a Facebook page  where you can become a fan and suggest to your friends that they become fans.

We need a large number of online and offline institutional and individual members to strengthen the Governments hands against vested interests that oppose UFA. This is every persons opportunity to make a difference and you do not need to burn buses, block traffic or send roses.  You need to convince anybody who will listen to join the movement. Join now. If  you need convincing contact me or any other UFA member.

Thanks for your time in reading this post and I look forward to reading and answering any comments positive or negative.

Government needs an OD overhaul

Like past President Kalam & late PM Rajiv Gandhi, Manmohan Singh, too is a reluctant politician. Upon becoming PM the first time, he announced that no new policies are needed, what is needed is administrative reform to ensure the effective implementation of the existing policies.

The solutions to the problems of India are mostly known. Problem is in the structure & HR policies of the Government of India. It is an OD issue. People who join the government are motivated mostly by security & power. Once in, they will earn till they die, they cannot be fired, at worst they can be transferred. This must change, what we need is people who are motivated to acheive & accomplish. Today, such people will simply not join government because its HR policies attract exactly the opposites.

 The appointment of Nandan Nilekani as a Cabinet Minister equivalent is a very positive and refreshing development.
A loose federal structure allows things to fall between cracks, there are no accountabilities. Results are in form of reports not actions & outcomes. The checks & balances are based on mistrust rather than fail-safe strategies. What we need are institutions headed by strong personalities who identify with its successes & failures. Delhi Metro & ISRO are two such examples.
Once elected, PM is nation’s leader including that of opposition. Opposition’s perennial role to destabilise the government tantamounts to sedition. PM must be empowered not undermined.
A captain can be only as good as its team. We can keep on changing the captains but the team remains the same. 
The top down and bottoms up approach to change must converge. As much as we need to weed out corrupt politicians we need to weed out the ineffective middle and bottom layers too.
There is no problem that India faces for which the solution is not known, what remains unknown is how to change the government structure, systems & staff. Who is responsible for that? How do we iniate a HR & OD overhaul? Where does one start? Any answers?

What you see is not what you get :-(

Yesterday I got a call from a PIO  who lives  in the Silicon Valley for the past 23 years and serving one of the most prestigious airline company in North America for 22 years. He was referred by one of our common acquaintance. I asked him the usual question (many a times a dip test  !!) – how has his experience been while being in India for the past few days.  And out in a ziffy was his reply – What you see is not what you get. !!

I see a lot of opportunity in what he remarked. My belief is that the awakening needs to happen from the within.

Can we initiate a few baby steps like encourage a queue system for whatever it takes and learn to drive our 2/4-wheeler in lanes and respecting the traffic rules wherever possible. Can we take the pain of cleaning our almirahs at home and desks at office and their orderliness at the end of each day instead of postponing the same around our convenience.

Instead of deliberating on the have nots and endorsing negative vibrations – the same time and energy can be used to complete some orderliness as cited above. We do have time – what we dont is awareness of consequences of the choices we make.

Sounds cliched but are there more simpler practises than these that can help us inch towards rebuilding our credibility.

Private curtain for the Private Fall

“Spurring Value creation in IT services”, I read this interview by Mckinsey quarterly way back in September 2007.  With each word, and each comma the fervor for the interviewee multiplied in my mind.Those words taught about a new business language, leadership values and a ‘dynamic’ model that will create a balance between all tasks in the organisation.

That Dynamic model was “Satyam Way”, and the interviewee Ramalinga Raju. Little did i know that Satyam shares i bought in bulk after reading that ‘dynamic model’ will go off roads within an year.

Many hearts sank faster than the Satyam shares and whole of the Indian IT industry went defensive.  The swollen markets and faces made the accident worse. It was very easy for ‘created’ muddle to produce ripples that could shake the foundations of the markets. The Indian Government acted as an ephemeral spine for Satyam computers with firm thought that it won’t subsidize the wrong doing and fraud directly or in-directly. Rather than acting like a Dady feeding his Spoiled kid with chocolates; like the way Uncle Sam feeded the bankrupt companies with so called nourishing bailout packages, Indian Government made it sure that Indians’ tax money is not used as a curtain to cover the rape of Corporate Governance. Instead of eyeing the public accounts, it made the biding open for private players to save the doomed enterprise and relaxed code regulations of Securities and Exchange board of India. At every step Indian Government planned to save Polio riden enterprise from cruches and look for a prosthesis that will help regain its shape and momentum again.

Only time and the stock market will tell how the government of India has faired in this task, but one thing is for sure that every element engaged in the scene has gained from this strategy be it the private enterprise who took over, Satyam clients, shareholders and employees and the common man whose hard earned penny could have gone for the higher management’s wine and cheese bills.

While Ramalinga Raju is still figuring out the dynamic ‘Satyam Way’ model in jail and Uncle Sam is running after Financial giants to check the bonuses like a mom with a glass of milk and stick , Indian Government is having a sound ‘proud’ sleep; not literally though. 🙂