Column: Thumbs Up to Mo Sarkar

By Ashutosh Mishra

Bhubaneswar: Chief minister, Naveen Patnaik’s much talked about ‘Mo Sarkar’ takes off today. What better day to launch such a scheme than the birth anniversary of the man who gave us ideas and ideals like Swaraj. But while Mahatma’s Swaraj was about people learning to rule themselves Patnaik’s latest move is about making the government truly accountable to people.

Beginning today chief minister himself will be making random calls to complainants at different police station to have their feedback on the kind of response they got from the men in khaki. Dress rehearsals have already been conducted by top police officials to ensure that nothing goes wrong when Patnaik speaks to people directly.

To begin with the focus areas for Mo Sarkar will be police stations and government hospitals to assess the kind of service they are providing to the people. On the face of it the move is an excellent way of making service providers accountable and improving the quality of their service.

The Opposition, as usual, has slammed the initiative as a political stunt being enacted by the government with an eye to its vote-bank. Leaders of BJP and Congress have argued that while services in hospitals cannot really improve without putting quality infrastructure in place policemen will initially make a show of being nice to people for the sake of not hurting the chief minister’s image and then go back their old ways.

Habitual cynics that most of us are we take perverse pleasure in dismissing any good move as a stunt. We forget that something good happening even for a day is better than not having anything good at all. While we are yet to see the unfolding of Mo Sarkar there is no denying that the move has set the cat among the pigeons with policemen being extra cautious and doctors trying to be friendly with patients.

If this works fine even for a few months we will see some marked improvement in governance as gradually this mantra of governance will also be applied to other departments. Babus will be on their toes and ministers handling departments will have to give their best in their own interest. Considering that chief minister will be personally monitoring the implementation of the scheme one should expect good results.

At the same time government should take steps to improve the quality of health infrastructure, especially in the interior areas so that people visiting hospitals and health centres are assured of best possible facilities. The authorities also need to deal with the problem of truancy among doctors which has been driving people to the lap of quacks and witch doctors in tribal dominated districts like Malkangiri and Koraput.

Delivery of services is expected to be the best when the conditions are the best. Infrastructure is only a part of it. What is more important is intent and commitment. That is why schemes like Mo Sarkar are important. Instead of criticising it we should give it’s a thumbs up.

(DISCLAIMER: This is an opinion piece. The views expressed are the author’s own and have nothing to do with OTV’s charter or views. OTV does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same.)