ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

Articles By Samuel Paul

Fighting Corruption

The growing distrust of government and widespread public rage against corruption are driven by what citizens experience in their day-to-day interactions with a variety of public agencies. The solution to this problem lies in the reform of the public service design and delivery at all levels of government. Transparency in public governance can go a long way in reducing the scope for corruption. That discretionary decision-making under the shadow of non-transparency is tailor-made to breed corruption is borne out by numerous recent cases.

Internationalisation of Higher Education: Strategic Implications

India's strategy with regard to internationalisation of higher education should be based on its potential to be an effective aid to the mitigation of the basic problems facing this sector. So far, the liberalisation policies have induced foreign providers to focus only on certain technical and professional fields of study that can earn them good market returns. In contrast to these modes, it is better to design a strategy that taps foreign universities and institutes of acceptable quality to work together with Indian universities/institutes to improve both access and quality. Augmenting and strengthening the capacity to produce more faculty in selected fields through such partnerships will help public universities play a more effective role in higher education.

India's Citizen's Charters: In Search of a Champion

This paper presents an assessment of the progress and effectiveness over the past decade of the citizen's charter initiative that is an effort to make public service providers more open, citizen-friendly and accountable. This reform has failed to deliver on its promise. Though the underlying model has much relevance to the Indian context, the lack of a sound strategy and the absence of champions at the central and state levels to see it through have contributed significantly to this outcome.

Public Spending, Outcomes and Accountability

The government's failure to effectively monitor the outcomes of public expenditure is a major reason for corruption and the low level of accountability in the country. There are genuine problems of observation, measurement and incentives behind this failure. In respect of public services, it is possible to substantially compensate for this failure by seeking "user feedback" on services. This paper presents the findings of a civil society initiative in Bangalore that produced "citizen report cards" on the city's services, based on user feedback and stimulated public agencies over a period of a decade to improve service outcomes. While citizen monitoring may be the only option when a government is indifferent to outcomes, there is no reason why the latter should not seek user feedback and benchmark its services when its internal monitoring is weak or incomplete. The citizen report cards of Bangalore offer a replicable approach that has now been tried out in other cities both in India and abroad, and even in rural areas. Whether the advocacy that follows the report card will improve service outcomes in all contexts is difficult to say as the responses from public agencies may vary. But even when a government and its agencies are indifferent, citizen report cards can be used to nudge them to pay more attention to service outcomes and public accountability.