Indus Action, a public policy do tank, brought together policy stakeholders across sectors to discuss the perspectives of Samaaj, Sarkaar, and Bazaar (Society/Community, Government, and Markets) and develop a shared vision and ownership of better public services for vulnerable citizens. The 3-day event featured participation from key opinion leaders, including Mahua Moitra, Member of the Lok Sabha, Rohini Nilekani, Head of Rohini Nilekani Philanthropies (RNP), and P Thiaga Rajan, Finance Minister of Tamil Nadu, and many others, who discussed possible solutions to improve last-mile delivery of welfare schemes, so that vulnerable citizens don’t have to run from pillar to post for their rightful entitlements.
Stakeholders from across sectors gathered to discuss perspectives of Samaaj, Sarkaar, and Bazaar and develop a shared vision on how to improve public services for vulnerable citizens
This is Indus Action’s first initiative to build the congregation of an active Samaaj and to create a platform for various stakeholders to work together towards shared development goals such as agency, voice, democracy, liberty, dignity, equality, fraternity, justice, etc., and their ensuing process pathways. The purpose is to see each other as active citizens and to understand how welfare works together as a whole system.
“To me, empathy and creativity are the two most important words when it comes to making change through Samaaj organizations. The shrinking of identities to narrow communities can benefit the Bazaar and Sarkaar components, but one must take a step back and co-create the good governance that we want for a better Samaaj. This may seem idealistic, but this human project can be executed through small actions towards a larger social goal with a feeling of hope and belief,” added Ms. Rohini Nilekani, Head of Rohini Nilekani Philanthropies (RNP).
Participants were immersed in an informative and engaging session
While Ms. Mahua Moitra, Member of the Lok Sabha, agreed, she said, “While empathy is an important part of Sarkaar, it does not replace good governance in terms of creating and implementing policies. The Sarkaar and Bazaar must relate and listen to beneficiaries and devise policy accordingly. Also, given that half of the population consists of women, welfare systems must create a more female-focused delivery policy.” She spoke at length about the Duare Sarkar initiative of the West Bengal state government as an example, as it aims to deliver specific schemes at the doorsteps of the people through outreach camps organized at the level of gram panchayat and municipal ward level. “Improving data collection system is the need of the hour to help the future generations,” she added.
Building on this, Tamil Nadu Finance Minister P Thiaga Rajan said that, “To track the progress of welfare measures, we will leverage a lot of data, but chances are it will intrude on citizens’ privacy. We are trying to create a fine balance between ensuring privacy is not breached and getting the necessary information for the efficient delivery of welfare schemes.” He also shared thoughts on how governments must make larger institutional changes to ensure that schemes reach the bottom of the pyramid, such as the TN government’s recent budget, which allocated Rs. 4,816 crores for various social security pension schemes; and proposed direct cash transfer of Rs. 1,000/month for girl students pursuing higher education, by moving away from the “Thalikku Thangam Thittam” marriage assistance scheme. Through these examples, he emphasised that the mark of a good government is how it overcomes structural flaws in the policy and moves to a beneficiary-based ecosystem instead of a department-based ecosystem.
“Currently, one billion Indians are vulnerable to poverty traps for at least 15 generations if current inequalities persist. To achieve the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 1 of zero poverty before 2047, Samaaj-Sarkaar-Bazaar must come together,” says Tarun Cherukuri, CEO, Indus Action.
Indus Action recognises that citizens have a fundamental desire to be seen and heard. It also strives every day to achieve a good society, an active Samaaj, that actualizes the value promises enshrined in constitutions, policies, and social contracts. Through this collaborative initiative, Indus Action hoped to introduce the concept of building communities that foster solidarity, create a sense of belonging, and prioritise that which unites us as Indians.
About Indus Action
Indus Action is a New Delhi-based public policy ‘do-tank’ that builds civic-tech solutions and mobilizes communities to enable policy implementation. Its mission is to help vulnerable families in India get sustainable access to legislated rights, including education, healthcare, and social security. Their vision is to lift 1 million vulnerable families out of poverty by 2025.
For more information, please visit www.indusaction.org.