Chidambaram decries Indian brand of "deliberative democracy"

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P. Chidambaram
P. Chidambaram

Manas Dasgupta

  • Most of schemes plagued by failures in design and delivery
  • Bridge disconnect between the rich and the poor

    AHMEDABAD: Union Finance Minister P. Chidambaram has decried the "Indian brand of deliberative democracy" having innumerable checks and balances that often "paralysed decision-making," leading the country to accept "sub-optimal solutions" with enormous costs in terms of time and money in implementing a programme.

    Convocation address

    Delivering the 42nd annual convocation address at the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad, on Saturday, Mr. Chidambaram said the country's 8.6 per cent growth rate of GDP (Gross Domestic Product) in the last three years was "below its true potential," because, among other reasons, one half of the population did not fully participate in the growth process due to lack of education or skills, jobs, capital or opportunity.

    Enumerating the various social service projects for which the Government allocated large sums of money every year but was not able to achieve the desired objectives and targets, Mr. Chidambaram said most of these programmes had been plagued by failures in "design, delivery and implementation."

    Chinese system

    Pointing out that China owed its progress to its "one country, two systems" theory, he regretted that India followed "one country, one system and as many interpretations as there are political parties." This "Indian brand of deliberative democracy" must change and the time had come when, in the case of development programmes, the country, after due deliberations, must adopt a system and work it to the best advantage of the people, eschewing conflicting interpretations.

    People's participation

    Most of the development programmes, he said, had worked only when there was people's participation but over the years many developmental programmes had bypassed the people and delivered poor results. The people did not have the sense of ownership of a half-constructed road or a school building in the rural areas though it was constructed with their own money. The absence of public ownership of development programmes did not ensure the necessary accountability on the part of those duty-bound to implement the programmes.

    Referring to the poverty level, he said the "disconnect" between the "rich India" and the "poor India" must be bridged and the policy failures and the governance failures must be addressed forthwith. "Deficiencies in design, delivery and implementation must be remedied. Time is of essence and the consequences of failure are too grave to leave the task to the Government alone," he told graduating students of the IIM-A.

    Call to IIM graduates

    He asked the management graduates to work for some time as a monitor and evaluator at the district and block levels to oversee the implementation of some of the core developmental programmes such as the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme, the mid-day meal scheme and the Integrated Child Development Scheme. These schemes were the "key interventions to make the India growth story more broadbased and inclusive." A total of 317 students 235 students of Postgraduate Programme in Management, 22 of the Postgraduate Programme in Agri-Business Management and the first batch of 60 students of the Postgraduate Programme in Management for Executives received the diploma at the convocation, which was chaired by the newly appointed chairman of the IIM-A, Vijaypat Singhania.

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