Lok Satta

Wednesday, 04 February 2009 10:46

Citizen Help Centers

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In a democracy, the citizen is the true and ultimate sovereign and the true measure of a government's functioning is citizen's satisfaction However, any citizen who approaches any government agency for any service to which s/he is entitled faces hostility, humiliation, harassment, delay, inefficiency, corruption, apathy and indignity. This has to change and unless citizens assert collectively and continuously, public services will not improve. Therefore, citizens should form neighborhood watch groups to protect their interests collectively to obtain better services from government using Citizen’s Charters as a launch pad. Lok Satta Party (LSP) can play a facilitating role in this endeavor through Citizen Help Centers in Andhra Pradesh.

 

Citizen Help Centers

Any citizen who approaches any government agency for any service to which s/he is entitled faces hostility, humiliation, harassment, delay, inefficiency, corruption, apathy and indignity. Unless the citizen arms himself with basic information about various services they are entitled to, and have the ability to wade through the thicket of procedures, they cannot bring government to book. Fortunately, there are simple, practical, effective remedies such as a Citizen’s Charter, which is an effective instrument to enhance accountability and reduce corruption. Mere framing of a Citizen’s Charters will not transform the mindset in the administrative machinery. There are a few other attendant measures that are required to turn Citizen’s Charters into true instruments of empowerment. First, individuals must be able to access these entire Citizen’s Charters easily. Lok Satta has therefore compiled citizen charters of some of the essential services and published them in the form of a booklet titled Swarajya. These booklets will be used extensively to empower citizens in their interactions with the government and its agencies. Unless citizens assert collectively and continuously, public services will not improve. Therefore, citizens should form neighborhood watch groups to protect their interests collectively to obtain better services from government using Citizen’s Charters as a launch pad. Lok Satta Party (LSP) can play a facilitating role in this endeavor by operationalising Citizen Help Centers in Andhra Pradesh.
A Citizen Help Center will perform following functions:

  • It will become the hub for citizen action and informed assertion
  • It will be a repository of information that is simple, accurate and useful on a variety of services we, the citizens, are entitled to receive from government and its agencies
  • It will carry information on a wide spectrum of government activities including certificates, land-related issues, public distribution system, voting rights, civic issues, public utilities, civil rights and stake holder empowerment
  • It will assist the citizens in their interactions with the government and its agencies
  • It will act as library/resource center and will also host information on contemporary socio-political issues.
  • It will act as counseling center for young people seeking information on employment opportunities and where possible senior staff of LSP will guide the youngsters in the career plans

It will also act as information centers for all the activities of LSP