This year, we are experiencing more than just the change in the weather; we are also experiencing the change in the way in which the government works.
The trend over the last couple of decades has been that after the general elections are over the governing political party got busy with its coalition partners, sorting and dividing the ministerial portfolios, much like distributing the loot after a campaign, and having done that, settled into an unperturbed mode to enjoy their spoils till it was time to make the preparations for the next general elections.
The common man – the ‘Aam Aadmi’ – the ‘Janta’ who has not only invested his hopes but has also funded those in power through the direct and indirect taxes that he pays is largely forgotten and considered more of an inconvenience than the person to whom the elected representative is answerable. There appears to be no accountability and even the annual budgets that are laid before him are so complex and fuzzy that they appear to be designed more to confuse than to illuminate his mind. In sheer frustration and disillusionment, life moves on, memories fade, and the ‘aam aadmi’ becomes too busy earning his livelihood to keep track.
This time however, the ‘winds of change’ have started blowing. We have a new man with a clear mandate at the helm. He does not have to kowtow to the whimsical demands of any coalition partners. People can see that the new PM, Narendra Modi, is making visible efforts that are backed by action to steer the nation towards progress. Old methodologies, processes and laws are being re-evaluated, tweaked or junked to make way for a more efficient way of functioning that makes life simple, comfortable, predictable and prosperous for all.
Archaic laws, some from the British era, are being abolished as the government has put in motion a plan to repeal as many as 987 obsolete laws! The law ministry will bring a new bill in the winter session of Parliament to repeal 287 obsolete laws and junk about 700 Appropriation Acts that have lost relevance. This purging should have been done regularly by past governments so that our laws and governing systems remain modern, keeping pace with the changing world order, economy, technology and lifestyle.
The Centre aims to amend the Motor Vehicles Act in Parliament’s winter session. Driving an uninsured car or motorcycle may soon cost you dear, if proposals given in the new Road Transport & Safety Bill are passed. A truck driver caught driving without the insurance policy may have to pay as much as Rs.75000! Soon, penalties for repeated violations may go beyond fines and lead to permanent loss of license. More than the extent of fine, it is the ability not to drive that would be very inconvenient and incapacitating for the offenders…hopefully bringing in the much needed discipline, decorum and etiquette on our roads. This change is needed, as about 16 people die and 58 are injured every hour in India due to road accidents – the death rate, in fact, is equivalent to wiping out about 40 per cent of the population of a small nation like Maldives in a year!
The government will have to embrace technology and use it in a very big way if it wants to have the proposed unified driver licensing system across the country, automated testing to eliminate human bias in testing, a unified vehicle registration system in India linked with insurance, vehicle offences and fitness, electronic and online submission of application for registration. In order to improve the enforcement of traffic regulations, cities with population of over 10 lakh will be equipped with automated traffic law enforcement systems, comprising of CCTV and speed check cameras and e-challan systems.
The government will also have to work on the development of an electronic platform to ensure collection, distribution and reconciliation of revenue between the various states in a seamless manner to remove the inconvenience the taxpayers face today.
The change within the government is happening. It’s real, as was evident from the Private Security Industry’s engagement with the Ministry of Home Affairs recently. Read our cover story this month.
Till we meet again next month, Cheers and Happy Reading!
G B Singh
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