A HERCULEAN TASK…?

Despite over seven decades of independence Indians continue to struggle amidst bureaucratic hurdles mostly attributable to the menace of red tapism prevalent in offices across the length and breadth of the nation. The situation is such that even getting a birth or a death certificate is no less than a herculean task for a common man in India not to talk of other tasks that need to pass through the bureaucratic scanner for the final approval. On one hand there is excessive regulation or rigid conformity to formal rules that are redundant or bureaucratic and hinder or prevent action or decision making especially in the case of Union and State governments, corporations, and other large organizations. Experience of Indians in all these decades has been harrowing due to the collection and sequence of forms and procedures required to gain bureaucratic approval for almost everything, especially when they are oppressively complex and time-consuming. The first encounter of a common man begins at the stage of filling of forms for a particular work or subject like the filling of Income Tax returns, applications for issue of birth and death certificates or for obtaining any licence, permit or approval from any statutory authority. It is an open secret that the formats under various laws, rules and regulations are so lengthy and complex that it is almost impossible for a common man to fill these without expert advice the cost of which is mostly unaffordable for the Aam Aadmi. However, the applications for substantial number of services have been simplified and converted into minimum-pages format. Of course this could be termed as path breaking initiative of the NDA Government as it will ultimately eliminate the canker of red tapism at least at its first point of incidence. The existing voluminous forms to be filled under various schemes contain repetitive lines seeking similar information besides a good number of columns in substantial number of forms seeking information irrelevant for the purpose of such applications. In fact all the forms need to be made most simple and concise so that the common man feels no difficulty at all in filling out the same. Only relevant and minimum information should be asked for in application forms for government services, etc and not repetitive ones. Now that the Government already has with it a huge data base through Aadhaar enrolment and as such a person should be asked to file only his Aadhaar Identification Number besides minimal information so as to bid farewell to the voluminous formats. The intentions of the Union Government are quite clear i.e. it is determined to convert all the multi-page or voluminous forms to single-page. In this context it is pertinent to mention here that it was J&K’s former CM Omar Abdullah who took the initiative in the direction of e-governance in J&K soon after taking over as the CM of this state especially to bid farewell to the red tapism and ensure transparency. Unfortunately dynamic idea failed on this front due to his cabinet colleagues being reluctant to allow e-governance for safeguarding their vested interests. It is a stark reality that red tapism is embedded in the people manning the government and other offices and though they are from amongst us only they are most reluctant in enforcing the e-clearance initiative, not to talk of making the formats simple. It is this lot in the bureaucracy that has to be dealt with sternly. Though the Union government had announced a couple of years back the plan to simplify all the formats within one year, yet the goal remains to be achieved till date. To achieve this goal is no less than a herculean task and it is hoped that the government succeeds in complete and successful implementation of e-governance across the nation thus providing respite to the people of the world’s largest democracy.