Thursday, May 8, 2014

M&E is About Communication, Not Confrontation

On paper, and in their speeches, all political parties contesting elections 2014 approached the voters with assurances of taking development to a new level and ensuring quality delivery. The election results will be out in little over a week’s time, and irrespective of what the EVMs hold by way of political futures, the commitment to complete underway initiatives and deliver quality, will have to be honoured by the next government. As far as governance goes, the ongoing cushion between elections and the announcement of results are the twilight zone, that phase during which nothing new or substantial can be undertaken, but a period when honest reflections can be indulged and new action plans devised without the distractions of running a government or managing a party. And although no party has given off any such signs, one still hopes that this meditation is underway in all political camps which believe that they have a decent shot at calling the shots for the next five years.
It is a no-brainer then to suggest that Monitoring & Evaluation will have to included as governance essentials if the expressed aims and objectives are to be met. This much everyone realises and accepts, but routinely decides to ignore. This aspect of governance should now be elevated to a position it deserves – right at the top. Too many doles, projects, funds and sponsorships have been invested in Sikkim without a scientific appraisal on how far the buck travels here. And accept it, monitoring & evaluation is a simple science. Funds get allocated, the release of payment requires numerous NOCs and clearance certificates to attest that the work was done – that’s monitoring. People look at roads carpeted last winter disintegrate with the first showers – that’s evaluation. Well, that’s the thumb rule. When it comes to the complicated processes by which projects get sanctioned, work orders get issued and payments get made, a slight refinement will be required, but the basics remain unchanged. The next crop of MLAs, who interacted extensively with their constituents, are already familiar with the street-appraisal of ongoing schemes. They know what the people believe to be wrong and what aspects have been endorsed by them. What they need to do now is to approach the concerned departments with these grassroots appraisals and seek explanations.
This is not about confrontation, but communication. There may be genuine reasons compromising quality, and it will be through such deliberations that the executive and the legislative arms of governance can confer, discuss, evaluate and resolve the hindrances that challenge delivery in Sikkim. Of course, the easier thing to do would be to blame previous representatives, find new scapegoats and create new coteries; but that is neither advisable, nor desirable.

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