Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Prime Minister's Independence Day Address -- an agenda for reform Part 1

15 August 20xx

In a significant break from tradition, the Prime Minister delivered the Independence day Address to the Nation while standing outside Parliament, in contrast to the usual heavily barricaded Ref Fort ramparts.

Excerpts from his speech:

"My dear countrymen. This day marks the xxth anniversary of India's political independence from over 300 years of Imperial occupation.
Every Independence day is a time for reflection -- of past successes and failures and of future opportunities.
Too many independence days have been spent thinking of the past, and of missed opportunities.
I believe, starting this Independence Day, India and Indians should spend more time thinking about their future.
Keeping that in mind, I spent a significant period of my first 30 days in office meeting over a thousand Indians, from all walks of life, from all parts of India.

Despite their incredible diversity, what struck me was how similar their aspirations for India were: Virtually all aspired to see, in their lifetimes, an India that is safe, powerful, prosperous and dynamic; an India that guarantees the safety and security of all her peoples.

As your Prime Minister, that message is especially pertinent : my people are demanding actions from me and my Government that take concrete steps in setting India in this direction.
And we are required to deliver -- in five years.

On the occasion of this 15th August -- my government's first 15th August -- i will unveil our "first 100 day plan". Reflecting the urgency of expectations, this plan is time-bound -- a response to a clearly articulated expectation of tomorrow's India.

This 100-Day Plan is clearly focused on fundamental reforms and improvements in five core sectors that underlie people's aspirations for a safe, dynamic and wealthy and caring India.
These sectors are: Law and Order (internal and external), Healthcare, Education, Economic performance and Social reforms.

Even as we have focused on these five core sectors, my Cabinet colleagues have debated extensively what the role of Government in each of these areas should be. We believe that in any sector, the Government can play three separate roles: the role of a regulator (that sets and enforces laws), of a provider (an entity that renders a service) or of financer (pays for the service in question, but does not necessarily provide the service itself).

My government has established a clear point of view on the Government's role in each of these sectors.
The objective of the "100 day plan" is to set in motion fundamental reforms in each of these sectors. I shall outline my vision for reform in each of these sectors one by one, beginning with probably the most important: Law and Order.

Law and Order

Ensuring the security of peoples is the first and fundamental role of any Government. Unfortunately, over the past decades, this area has been systematically ignored.
This is an oversight that must be corrected; for, unlike in the other sectors, the role of the Government here is that of regulator financier and provider -- all in one. Failure in this sector is thus entirely ascribable to a Government failure.

Our first priority then in Law and Order will be to raise the funding of elements of our internal and external law and order mechanisms. Resources are needed to raise the service levels of our Courts (that have over 22 million cases pending), our understaffed Police services and our Armed Forces -- to minimise this risk of failure.

In addition to augmenting resources, structural reforms are also necessary to ensure that Lew and Order are always upheld. My government is working to create a reform blueprint to completely insulate Law Enforcement from political influence. This is necessary to ensure that the fundamental right of all citizens to a safe living environment is never held hostage to political and vested interests. It is my belief that with the implementation of these reforms, every perpetrator -- irrespective of class, religion, creed or nationality, will be brought to justice effectively and quickly. A crime punished is ten crimes averted.

Ensuring the mental and physical health of all 1.2 Billion Indians is the bedrock of a strong society.
Healthcare is a top priority for this government since in the next 5 years, this country will have over 300 million children below 15 and over 200 million people over 65 -- both of whom have significant healthcare needs.

The first reform my Government plans to make is to shift the burden of payment for healthcare from the user to the provider.
In our present healthcare system, the government funds hospitals and providers -- irrespective of the quality of care they provide or whether they provide care at all. In this system, citizens end up paying healthcare expenses from their own pockets -- a system that, in nation after nation, has proved to be inequitable and inefficient.
In contrast, the healthcare payment system being devised by my government will provide citizens with cash equivalents that they can redeem in exchange of healthcare services. Hospitals and doctors will be paid on the basis of healthcare cash equivalents they accumulate.
This will significantly increase the efficiency of the system by ensuring that costs are incurred only for services rendered, while also providing users -- especially the poor -- with a real choice in healthcare. A special ring-fenced fund will be established for administering this service to the poor.

The second major reform in health care is around quality management: its important for the Government to ensure that only those health facilities that meet stringent quality, service, hygiene and competence criteria are allowed to operate.
To that end, strong professionally run regulator institutions will be established in the next 5 years to monitor healthcare education, hospitals and patient safety.

[to be continued]


Sonal said...

Visionary...and simply brilliant.

Ashutosh said...

Dear Agworld;

Following is a news piece which may modify your thinking. In a press conference conducted by Narayan Murthi; following was his flagship sentence. " We need tremendous investments in sectors like road,power and other infrastructure....etc. etc. ... and I don't mind inviting foreign companies to India provided a robust regulatory framework is put in place so as to protect people interest."..... I go a step further and feel the same is applicable even to "free market economy"/private sector". If any one is really keen on free market forces ,the first step is shouting for "robust regulatory framework so that peoples interest are put in front. Ground rules are clear and open. I do not think anybody is against freeer markets here; but the haste with which some people are propagating in free market without giving any thoughts to robust regulatory framework certainly gives rise to suspicion that the ulterior motive is something else.

BTW when is your part-II of your speech coming out? 26th January 200X+1?

Ashutosh said...

Dear Mr. Prime Minister;
Thank you very much for such splendid ideas. The impracticality of which shows your complete isolation from ground realities
a characteristic obsrved only in neo-capitalist completely enamored by western thoghts and believe in universal application of free market "dose"
as a "cure all".
First few paras are devoted to the "vision /where my country should be" etc.I fully agree with your "vision" Mr. Prime Minister;
as we know everybody; no doubt; wants the best things in life; the problem is very few have tenacity to generate implementable,
practical solutions to achieve that.With this thing in mind let us discuss your ideas.
Law and Order: Certainly we can increase the funding on Police and defence services. I "love" that idea. Problem is
How? Cut back on other sectors? If yes which one and how much? Or I should just keep on printing more and more notes?
What percentage of my GDP is on defence? any bench marking? More importantly just by spending more on defence would it give me "more feel
of security?" yes..../no.......?Should I spend on personnel or equipments? Point number two: reform blueprint to completely isolate Law Enforcement
from political influence. Sir; if you come out with such an "implementable" policy; I will be the first person to recommend your name
for the noble peace award/Magassasey award for government service. The problem is each and every political party in India has aptly
demonstrated that when it is outside the power it is against political influence on police force but as soon as it is in power
it wants he same influence.The most covetted post in any cabinate is "Home". Why?......
Forget about political parties; even at individual level: If any of us are caught for even a minor
traffic violation ; and; that person happens to know any influential person (local MLA,commissioner etc etc.) there is more than
90% probability that , this influence would be used for escape;"irrespective of class, religion, creed or nationality."

Sector Two :Health Care: This "brilliant highly creative" idea is based on sort of "Food Stamps" concepts in USA. A few questions
though: You are creating sort of "Cash Equivalents". Who will issue them? and on what basis? (Need basis? if yes, then who determines
the need? if health care providers then the course of action is : I first go to the hospital determine that I have this problem; it will cost
so much and then apply to the govt. to get those "cash equivalent vouchers?")
if the answer is "no" and every one gets fixed number of vouchers then; this situation is even
more dangerous. What happens if one person has many health care needs and other person is healthy. Will these vouchers
be freely tradable commodity? Will the amount of health care needs be determined by govt (probably "Ministry of health vouchers") and on what basis.
What happens if there is an epidemics or a series of bomb explosions and health care needs shoot up? Wouldn't such an innovative idea lead to
another major Ministry. "Ministry of medical vouchers". What is your estimate of the size of this ministry. (50,000 more babus)
Now your second reform in Health care: About establishing "regulator instituition" to ensure stringent quality, service, hygiene and
competence criteria.
Splendid idea; Mr. Prime Minister; However it was implemented long time back with "Medical coucil of India" a body of professionals.
who "is suppose to" regulate the "industry". Now without proper analysis of its achievements/failure and reasons there of; should we
establish another institution.? or start with "a clean slate" and a decade later find ourselves at the same point we started today.
If we just want to create a new one (without judging reasons of failure of earlier one) why not rename the MCI; we will be happy; we did
"changed" something without additional burden on exchaquer
As far new institution what should be its composition? should it have only Doctors on it or should also have consumers?
(and as representatives of consumers: Govt nominees?).

Any way Mr. Prime Minister thank you for your terrific ideas. I hope you will take time/efforts to answer some ground points so that
we can atleast start towards its implementation during your tenure.

At last Mr. Prime Minister; it seems after our last president; every second person on the street in our coutry; wants to be a visionary.
The problem is nobody talks of "practical & implementable" solutions/ground level analysis to convert that vision into reality.

Jai Hind