Question: Saraswati was a successful IT professional in USA. Moved by the patriotic sense of doing something for the country she returned to India. Together with some other like minded friends, she formed an NGO to build a school for a poor rural community. The objective of the school was to provide the best quality modern education at a nominal cost. She soon discovered that she has to seek permission from a number of Government agencies. The rules and procedures were quite confusing and cumbersome. What frustrated her most was delays, callous attitude of officials and constant demand for bribes. Her experience and the experience of many others like her has deterred people from taking up social service projects. A measure of Government control over voluntary social work is necessary. But it should not be exercised in a coercive a corrupt manner. What measures can you suggest to ensure that due control is exercised but well meaning, honest NGO efforts are not thwarted?
Answer: The above mentioned scenario is a common problem faced by individuals and groups that intend to do welfare for the community but are stuck up in red tape and bureaucratic apathy.
A novel intention such as building a school for poorer sections without any intention for profit, facing such a problem shows that selflessness also has a price.
Measures to improve efficiency of bureaucratic structure
In order to make the process free from bribes and kickbacks, it is necessary to make it transparent. To make the process transparent, digitisation has to be carried out so that the process is in public domain. Timely updates have to be provided to ensure that applicant knows the status of his/her application and prevent officials from deliberately delaying the process.
- End-to-end service
NGO work, which does not involve any serious use of finances can be given permission without having to pass through rigorous bureaucratic structure. This will involve applicant directly applying to the highest authority and if the required documents are proper then they can be given permission through a simple inspection. To further scrutinize, renewal criteria can be applied.
- Feedback portal
In order to punish officials guilty of initiating corruption and harassing applicants, a dedicated portal can be set up which will look into complaints and try to figure out if the allegations are true. Punishment has to be initiated on either the applicant or the official if they are involved in illegalities or falsely report any case.
A new framework has to be initiated to look into works of charity that does not involve any suspected financial misappropriation.
Thus, the measures of the government must be aimed at rebuilding the trust with philanthropists so that society will not suffer due to tussle between government and social organizations.