The Right to Education Act and the National Rural Health Mission are noble initiatives. However, as the writers have pointed out (“Poorly performing public services,” April 2), the schemes haven’t been very successful as the figures tell another story. The reasons for this are many and cannot only be linked to poor public administration and improper implementation. In the first case, these schemes are trying to change the age-old perception that public institutions (in the areas of health and education) are substandard and that only private institutions are good. To change this perception will take some time. Second, the schemes cannot be forced on citizens. There are other factors like lack of awareness about the schemes, embezzlement and siphoning off of funds, mismanagement, rhetorical practices and methodologies, lack of innovation, poor marketing and lack of concrete methods to check malpractices and lapses.
The government should be given due credit. Let us also not forget the successful innings of the Janani Suraksha Yojana. I agree with the writers that there is scope for improvement.
The survey is an eye-opener as far as the framing and implementation of government schemes are concerned. Fittingly, it has come at a time when poll promises are the order of the day. Irregularity and absenteeism must be curbed in government facilities. If the JSY can be successful in the same societal framework, why not NRHM and RTE? Surveys like this will help policymakers understand the felt needs of people rather than the assumed ones. And as one intellectual once put it, fighting in the right direction is as important as fighting itself.