Effective Grievance Redressal: Heart of Good Governance
- The effort to usher in an era of Sushasan (सुशासन) has begun on a very promising note. However, it is also important to understand that governance is an area where citizen too has specific role to play at every given point.
- It is important to note that public grievances redressal is a very important component of a responsive administration.
- The Government of India has established an internet-based Centralised Public Grievances Redress and Monitoring System (CPGRAMS) to facilitate all citizens to lodge grievances for redressal.
- CPGRAMS is a platform based wed technology which aims to enable submission of grievances by the citizens from anywhere, anytime to the Ministries/Departments/Organisations.
- It is important to note that issues relating to sub-judice cases or any matter concerning judgment given by any court; personal and family disputes; RTI matters; anything that impacts upon the territorial integrity of the country or friendly relations with other countries and correspondence which is in the nature of advice/suggestions do not fall within the scope of grievance redressal.
Public Grievance Mechanism in India
- The Public grievance Mechanism of the Prime Minister’s office (PMO), the President’s Secretariat, the Directorate of Public Grievances (Cabinet Secretariat), Department of Administrative Reforms & Public Grievance (DARPG) as well as the Pensioners’ portal have been integrated through the CPGRAMS.
- The DARPG is the policy making, monitoring and coordinating department for public grievances.
- It is also important to note that the Prime Minister also monitors/reviews the pending grievances of one or more Ministry/Department every month under the Pro-Active Governance and Timely Implementation (PRAGATI) platform.
- The CPGRAMS with local language interface, has so far been launched in 9 State Governments / Union Territories, namely, Haryana, Odisha, Rajasthan, Mizoram, Meghalaya, Uttarakhand, Jharkhand, Punjab and Puducherry.
- The DARPG has also launched an Award Scheme as an incentive for recognising outstanding performance in redressal of public grievances through issue of Certificate of Appreciation on a quarterly basis.
- Public Grievance Call Centre has been made operational with effect from February 2016 for reminding concerned officials of the top 40 Ministries/Departments/Organizations receiving bulk of the grievances, for expeditious disposal of grievances pending for more than two months. This Call Centers make about 20,000 to 22,000 calls per month.
e-Governance: Grievance Redress for a New India 2022
Sevottam and CPGRAMS
- The Department of Administrative Reforms & Public Grievances (DARPG) is the chief policy making, monitoring and coordinating department for public grievances arising from the work of Ministries/departments of the Government of India.
- The DARPG has developed a framework called ‘Sevottam’, which essentially means Excellence in Public Service. Under this scheme, every Government Department must have a Citizens’ Charter outlining the main services with service standards and timelines, a Public Grievance Redress Mechanism, and a system with assessment and improvement of public service delivery standards.
- DARPG has put in place a ‘Centralized Public Grievance Redress and Monitoring System’ (CPGRAMS) since 2007.
- Currently 139 Ministries/Departments/States/UTs and other Apex organizations are linked in CPGRAMS. It is also available in Hindi.
- The grievances received by the Department through CPGRAMS are forwarded to the Ministries/Departments concerned. Redress of grievance is done by respective Ministries / Departments in a decentralized manner.
- The DARPG is also doing its part at being innovative by launching schemes such as the Public Grievances Call Centre, Twitter Seva and even a new version of CPGRAMS with additional features is slated for launch shortly.
- The government has recently launched a Unified Mobile Application for New-age Governance (UMANG).
- Developed by Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology and National e-Governance Division, UMANG provides a single platform for all Indian Citizens to access pan India e-Gov services ranging from Central to Local Government bodies and other citizen centric services.
- MyGov.in is a unique and cutting edge participatory governance initiative involving the common citizen at large, initiated by the Prime Minister in 2014.
- It provides citizens a voice in the governance process of the country and creates grounds for them to become stakeholders across the board, including in implementation through actionable tasks.
Other Citizen Centric Services
- Lokvani project in Uttar Pradesh helps citizens make their grievances related to government services in an easy manner and also get their redress within 15 days of filling of complaint through kiosk centers. Also initiated is the Jansunwai or e-Samvad Portal fully dedicated for grievance redress through e-Governance.
- The Andhra Pradesh online portal ‘aponline.com’ is one of the most comprehensive State Government set ups for an e-interface between the Government and citizens with an integrated grievance redress channel as a part of its real-time governance initiative.
- e-Pariharan has been launched in Kerala to Facilitate online lodging of complaints. Complaints can also be received through SMS, WhatsApp, email, etc.
Public Grievance beyond G2C
- The Integrated Grievance Redressal Mechanism (INGRAMS) is a portal launched by the Department of Consumer Affairs to create a platform to allow consumers to lodge complaints regarding consumer dissatisfaction. It has brought all stakeholders including consumers, government agencies, private companies, regulators and call centers onto a single platform.
- Looking at the future of public services and redress of grievances, there are a few fundamental principles which may need to be pursued. These include making services available to public in faceless, paperless and cashless mode; providing connectivity and digital identity to all; targeting benefits through Aadhaar enabled Direct Benefits Transfer; simplifying forms and processes and providing e-platforms.
Private Service Providers: Redressal Mechanism
- An Indian consumer faces a threefold challenge to lodge a grievance for redressal.
- Firstly, complainants are unaware about the available platforms for resolving their grievances.
- Secondly, even if they do know the appropriate redressal platform, access to the same becomes a major impediment in filling their grievance.
- Thirdly, even if an aggrieved person is able to lodge a grievance with an appropriate government platform, they risk high chances of it remaining unresolved.
- To overcome these challenges, and to empower all citizens with a convenient grievance redressal mechanism, the government, led by the vision of implementing ‘ART for Governance’, i.e. Accountability, Responsibility and Transparency, has not only digitised the existing public grievance mechanisms operational in the country, but has also launched several new platforms, such as the Railway Ministry’s NIVARAN, Ministry of Petroleum, Oil and Natural Gas’s e-Seva, Pro-Active Governance and Timely Implementation (PRAGATI) a multi-purpose grievance redressal platform, etc. which allow citizens to lodge their grievances against government services, as well as private service providers in certain instances through online means.
- The Right to Citizen for Time Bound Delivery of Goods and Services and Redressal of their Grievances Bill (popularly known as the lokpal bill), which has been pending since 2011. Though the government is mulling over introducing Delivery of Services and Grievances Redressal Scheme-2015, the same may not yield to be an adequate redressal mechanism.
- The recent Consumer Protection Bill, 2018, which is set to replace the existing Consumer Protection Act, 1986 (COPRA), provides for establishing a Central Consumer Protection Authority (CCPA), which will be tasked with providing faster grievance redressal for consumers, and will also entertain class-action cases.
- There also exists a need for better centre-state coordination in effectuating speedy redressal for consumer grievances, by enabling a well-oiled redressal mechanism.
Grievance Redressal Mechanisms for Women
- At the apex level, there are primarily two designated nodal agencies in the Central Government for handling grievances:
- The Department of Administrative Reforms and Public Grievances, Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions, and
- The Directorate of Public Grievances, Cabinet Secretariat. Standing Committee of Secretaries for Grievance Redressal, headed by the Cabinet Secretary, conducts review of grievance redressal mechanism of different Ministries/Departments of Government of India.
- Government departments have set up designated officers exclusively to handle the complaints. Departments have displayed the name, designation, room number, telephone number etc. of the offices at the reception and other convenient places.
- The government has gone a long way in bringing out many initiatives to redress the grievances of women both at work and at home. In alignment with Convention on Elimination of all forms of Discrimination (CEDAW) Millennium Development Goals (MDG) National Policy for Empowerment of Women, and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for a gender inclusive society, many schemes have been initiated by the Government resulting in a positive impact while addressing gender needs.
- The Department of Women and Child Development and Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment have contributed substantially in improving gender equality and child sex ratio and eradicating the evils of female infanticide.
- The Department also implements Social Legislations like Domestic Violence Act, 2005, Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961, Child Marriage Prohibition Act, 2006, Protection of Women from Sexual Harassment at Work Place Act, 2013 and Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizen’s Act, 2007 to ensure the safety and rights of women, children and senior citizens as guaranteed under the Indian Constitution.
Domestic Violence: Grievance Redressal
- After the infamous rape and death incident in Delhi in 2012 the Government had created an exclusive fund, “Nirbhaya Fund”, to oversee the implementation of special projects intended for ensuring women safety.
- To provide safety and security of women and establish the rights of women the National Commission for Women has been set up at the Centre. Even State Governments have set up State Commission.
Women in Work Place: Grievance Redressal
- Handbook on the Social Legislations have been developed and training is being imparted to all stakeholders working in varios departments.
- Posters on Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prohibition, Prevention and Redressal) Act-2013 has designed to be displayed in Strategic location.
- The Government of India has developed an exclusive online complaint system called the SHe-Box through the Ministry of Women and Child Development.
- This Sexual Harassment electronic Box (SHe-Box) is an effort of the government to provide a single window access to every woman, irrespective of her work status, whether working in organised or unorganised, private or public sector, to facilitate the registration of complaints related to sexual harassment.
- The Government of India has proposed a Special Scheme named “SAKHI”, which is a One Stop Centre (OSC), intended to support women affected by violence, in private and public spaces, within the family, community and the workplace. The objective of the scheme is to provide integrated support (Medical, Legal and Police help) and assist women affected by violence, both in private and public spaces under one roof.
- The Scheme of Universalization of Women Helpline initiated by Government of India is intended to provide 24 hours immediate and emergency responses to women affected by violence.
Other Means of Grievance Redressal
- Right to Information Act: The public be informed of activities and actions initiated for public welfare and governance, and be provided with information that it might require to assess the Government’s responsibilities and ability to provide services.
- Citizens’ Charter: It explains the Government’s commitments and approaches to redress public grievances or complaints, the time required, the range of possible responses, submission procedures etc.
- Grama Sabha: Conducted at village levels to redress the grievance of village community members.
- Juvenile Justice Act, Hostel Act and Senior Citizen Act.
Addressing Grievances in Health Care
- Although the Supreme Court of India has recognised the right to health as an integral facet of the right to life under Article 21 of the Constitution of India, enforcement machinery for this right are virtually non-existent.
- The Clinical Establishment Act (CEA) 2010, is a Central law for registration and regulation of all clinical establishments in the country (public or private). It prescribes the minimum standards of facilities and services provided by them, and the fees that may be charged from the patients. Non-compliance with the standards can lead to cancellation of the registration license granted under the Act and imposition of penalties provided in the Act.
- The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) has in place a “hospital manual” which lays down provisions for the smooth functioning of public hospitals in the areas of management, administration, various departments and wards and, includes a citizen’s charter. The manual envisages a grievance redressal mechanism for every hospital, and the appendix lays down the citizen’s charter for central government hospitals.
- The National Health Mission through its National Health Portal launched the MERA ASPATAL app in 2017.
- मेरा अस्पताल (My Hospital) is Ministry of Health, Government of India’s initiative to capture patient feedback for the services received at the hospital through user-friendly multiple channels such as Short Message Service (SMS), Outbound Dialling (OBD) mobile application and web portal.
- My Hospital helps the government to take appropriate decisions for enhancing the quality of healthcare delivery across public facilities which will improve the patient’s experience.
- The National Accreditation Board for Hospitals and Health care providers (NABH) is another mechanism under Quality Council of India that addresses grievances and appeals.
- NABH is a constituent board of Quality Council of India, set up to establish and operate accreditation programmes for healthcare organisations.
- Under the Indian Medical Council Act, 1956, the Medical Council of India (MCI) has issued the code of Ethics Regulations, 2002 (CoER) which lays down standards for the professional conduct, etiquette and ethics for registered medical practitioners.
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