Govt-Public Interface

Two years after it was launched with much fanfare in 2009, the Government of Nagaland has finally decided to do the right thing by officially discontinuing with the ‘State Road Shows’, which after the first year of its successful implementation was often seen as controversial and exchequer-draining. The biggest problem with the so called Road Show of the DAN-now NPF government was not so much the intent or objective, which was actually an innovative way of connecting with the people, but the overindulgence of the State government and its machineries. At the end, even the very objective of organizing such road shows became lost in the merry-making and extravaganza that came to be identified with such programmes. As suggested several times in these columns, the State wide Road shows had come to lose its relevance and it was time to move on. Thankfully the government must have gauged the mood of the people and at last it has taken the right decision to shelf it, although it is also a little surprising that there has been no official word. The present government seems unwilling to publicly announce the end of the road shows. Instead the official line being taken is that from now onwards the respective tribal hohos will partake in these road shows with financial assistance from the government.
The NPF government should not lose sleep over the controversy attached to the Road Shows. It may not have been a complete success but neither was it a total failure. Since the objective of the more than one year of road show was to be a inter face between the people and their government, the latter would have got a sense of what people actually want. Hopefully the feedback received during the road shows will be used to further augment the running of the government and ensuring that the fruits of development reach down to the grass root level. This is the biggest positive lesson that one can take away from the road shows, despite the obvious controversies attached to it. However it is also reported that while the government will no longer hold government-sponsored road shows, “it is now communitized”. The point that we need to raise here is, what is the rationale to communitize a ‘government programme’? How can a unique government programme such as the road shows with its specific aims and objectives be now run by tribal hohos? In fact the government should continue with its objective of interfacing with the public through other innovative ways and means. Besides providing information about government run programmes, great improvement is needed in the area of delivering services on the ground. The government also needs to hear from as broad a section of people as possible and not confining only to the select few.
The other area where the government can actually connect with the people is through proper utilization of Information Communication Technology (ICT). It seems as though that our government is very publicity savvy. However it has failed in providing a transparent and accountable government. For instance there is a need to improve the Nagaland government web portal. The information available in the government website is far from satisfactory. As far as improving the interface between the government and people, the role of the local media is hardly acknowledged although it is we in the media which is actually the most visible platform to hear, learn and dialogue with the common people. The local media definitely promotes government-people inter face. The media is vital link between government and society and it has been providing its own public service by helping the government connect to the people.