Friday August 12, 2022

Prototype of citizen-led governance

November 20, 2017
Despite the defined contours of bureaucratic functioning, there is always a lot of space available to deliver to the masses and innovations can be done within the ambit of law to render public service at the doorsteps of people of Pakistan who are the real masters, civil servants being servants of the people who should not go to their servants for resolution of their problems that have been categorized innovatively into 18 categories by the district administration of Bhakkar for the first time in the country’s civil services’ history, setting a practicable model for other functionaries/districts to follow.
After having learned about these innovations whose major categories are, to this day, four in number, as learned from the Deputy Commissioner, Bhakkar, Syed Bilal Haider, The News carried out a study of this unique model of comparatively failsafe and efficient public service that has not only changed the socio-cultural landscape of this hitherto ‘backward’ district but also filled the ever-widening gaps between the ‘providers and seekers’ (in economic terms, it simply means, between ‘job providers and seekers’). Take, for example, the figures given by the DC to this scribe which were found out to be correct on research, that there stood an agreement between the governments of Malaysia and Pakistan for providing 0.28 million plumbers but unfortunately, not more than 4,600 Pakistanis could avail this golden chance of poverty-alleviation, so far.
Likewise, South Korea had showed interest in picking up 0.18 million mobile repair workers from Pakistan. And these are just two well-publicized opportunities. If yet greater research is carried out without much hassle, millions of opportunities would be found out which could almost put an end to abject miseries of Pakistani people through correct and timely information about these opportunities that were neither diminishing nor inaccessible.
The only problem that has been adding to the common

man’s miseries, was that of ‘disconnect’. That ‘disconnect’ is rapidly moving towards greater master (public)-servant (officials) connectivity through a unique, fully functional system of four innovations that has ensured governance at the doorsteps of citizens. It was the governance by the citizens, commented Deputy Commissioner Bilal.
The talk of innovations within the permissible legal and administrative framework with optimal prioritization and intelligent use of available financial and human resources, is also very much identical with the successful governance model of ‘Informal and Formal Organization’ that would be taught in world’s renowned Administrative Science Training Academies and Public Policy Schools including that of Pakistan. And it also corresponds with the model envisaged by Jeffersonian democracy of United States which emphasizes smart government or lesser government aimed at empowerment of the masses, enabling them to be the masters of themselves without the over-imposition of governmental authority.
And although these innovations appear at the first instance to be Bhakkar-specific, if emulated in other districts or other parts of the country, they can mathematically lead to resolution of public problems as well as public satisfaction without over-burdening the national exchequer, leading further to greater public-government integration which is direly needed to take the country out of backwardness and the concomitant morass.
The first innovation is ‘Labbaik Bhakkar Helpline’. Eighteen categories of public service have been identified and a 24-hour helpline has been put in place which notes down calls and the reported problems and guides the caller with all details through all the processes which have also been streamlined in such a manner that the applicant does not need to run from pillar to post to get the desired relief. Even the chances of corruption have vanished with the power of information with which the citizens have been empowered through this ‘Citizen-led governance and reporting’. Jobless persons are also provided updated information about the vacancies that are researched on a constant footing. The intimation to the caller is given through Urdu sms very rapidly.
The second innovation has been done in the area of health and education. Citizens have been given connectivity through Facebook with all types of local hospitals including BHUs and the unnecessary supervisory tiers that were hampering the efficiency, have been done away with.
The third innovation which can be aptly described as the best innovation in the prevalent circumstances, is empowering the biggest stakeholder, the citizen, through employment. A ‘Bhakkar Job Bureau’ has been launched. United Kingdom’s DFID is also cooperating in this mission. As many as 44,000 vacancies have been identified and the mission of providing 100 % employment coverage is near accomplishment, the job being undertaken passionately by Job Placement Officers under supervision of the higher district authorities.
Hitherto, there is no Job Bureau functioning in any district. This job sector is also facing the ‘Disconnect’ problem i.e disconnect between the job-providers and job-seekers. Vacancies exist and so do exist the potential and willing workers but lack of information comes in the way. Examples of Malaysia and South Korea, seeking workers from Pakistan to the tune of 0.46 million persons, were given to elaborate this point.
Part ‘B’ of the third innovation focuses on greater economic generation and includes the establishment of Thal Industrial Estate where 240 factories were in the process of being set up for which PC-1 had been approved that would provide thousands of jobs.
The fourth innovation was difficult to achieve but it worked, courtesy the persuasion efforts of the Deputy Commisisoner and his team and with the participation of all segments of the society. It is about social and cultural change as the first Ladies Health and Fitness Club has been set up in the public sector in Bhakkar with all the state of the art equipment and systems.
In the area of education, the biggest deficiency was that of no M.Sc classes available in the district. Now, these classes have begun and in addition to that, ‘O’ and ‘A’ levels have also been introduced. University of Bhakkar and Thal Medical College are other prime projects besides the establishment of Reshma Musical Academy.
As a result of all these efforts and innovations, the district of Bhakkar has risen from its previous 17th ranking to 2nd in Punjab Chief Minister’s Education Sector Reforms Roadmap and 3rd in the Health sector.