Piyush Prakash, SPARC Associate to Hon’ble MP Anurag Thakur
There exist several perceptions about how government officials work and how projects and grievances of citizens keep moving around from one department to another via files. Having gone through similar experiences at government offices, I had developed the understanding that it’s a herculean task for a commoner to get one’s work done. But, now I see a ray of hope and it is all thanks to my current engagement as a SPARC (Supporting Parliamentarians in Analysis and Research in Constituency) Associate to Honourable Member of Parliament, Mr. Anurag Thakur from the Hamirpur constituency, Himachal Pradesh.
Out of the several roles that a SPARC Associate plays, it is the provision of critical research on the implementation of various projects and schemes in the constituency to the Honourable Member of Parliament that helps in redressing the grievances of the constituents. For instance, in the parliamentary constituency of Hamirpur, the constituents would often complain to the Honourable MP about high out-of-pocket expenditure on health and request financial assistance. The Honourable MP expressed his concern on the issue and asked me to find a solution. Some data mining and analysis of health sector schemes brought to my notice the inefficiency on the part of government officials. In particular, the underutilisation of the health insurance scheme, Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana, which offers smart card based cashless treatment upto Rs 30,000 per BPL household upon hospitalization. In Una district, the target set for enrollment of identified beneficiary households was 45,407. However, only 24,462 households were enrolled and a meagre 1903 households took the benefit of the scheme. In the district of Hamirpur, the eligible household number stood at 48,856, but the number of households that were enrolled and could benefit from the scheme stood at 31677 and 1331 respectively.
The data points reflected that the government officials had not enrolled the number of targeted households, and exposed a lack of awareness about the scheme amongst the enrolled households. The Honourable MP was surprised with the inefficient implementation of the scheme. The next logical step was to raise the issue with the officials on an appropriate platform. The platform was DISHA or the District Development Coordination and Monitoring Committee formed in July, 2016. The senior most Member of Parliament (Lok Sabha), elected from the district, chairs the committee and ensures that all programmes are implemented in accordance with the guidelines, proper flow of funds, and redressal of grievances and loopholes if any. Honourable MP Mr. Anurag Thakur raised the matter in the DISHA meeting, and using the data collected on the scheme to guide his next steps. He directed the health department officials to meet cent percent enrollment and ensure maximum utilization of the scheme by organizing awareness campaigns at a massive scale in the following three months. The story was also picked up by the local media, which further generated awareness among the constituents.
As DISHA meetings are held in every quarter, there is a constant review of implementation of schemes, and a follow-up on directives given by the Honourable MP, which nudges the officials to deliver time-bound and quality services. In this regard, I have made a contribution to improving the life of fellow citizens, through the inputs I provide to the Honourable MP for the DISHA meetings.
Swaniti is also in the pursuit to design a DISHA tracker tool for the Honourable MPs so that the follow-up could be strengthened and the various schemes and projects meet their desired objectives of ensuring welfare of the citizens.