Do you remember the character Mushaddi Lal portrayed by the critically acclaimed actor Pankaj Kapoor in the famous TV series ‘Office Office’? The series took a dig at 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 perception that it’s a herculean task for a commoner to get one’s work done. But, now I see a ray of hope and 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 parliamentary constituency, Himachal Pradesh.

Among the many roles which a SPARC associate plays, providing critical research on the implementation of various projects and schemes in the constituency to the honourable member of parliament 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 of high out of pocket expenditure on health and request financial assistance as well. The honourable MP expressed concern and asked me to find a way out. Some data mining and analysis of health sector schemes brought to notice the inefficiency on the part of government officials. The health insurance scheme called Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana which offers smart card based cashless treatment upto Rs 30,000 per BPL household upon hospitalization was underutilized. 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 which were enrolled and which 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 households targeted, as well as 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- my ray of hope. 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 with data at his disposal to hold the officials accountable. 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 meetings of DISHA is held in every quarter, there is a constant review of implementation of schemes and projects and follow up on directives given by honourable MP which nudges the officials to deliver time-bound and quality services. Meanwhile, I am cherishing my bit of contribution in making life of fellow citizens hassle free 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.

Written by Piyush Prakash, SPARC Associate, Swaniti Initiative