Friday, June 14, 2024

Where are the policies?


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The last time Meghalaya had an Education Policy was in 1986. We are now in 2011, and will step into 2012 but the Education Policy initiated by the Meghalaya Parliamentary Forum (MPA) government in 2008-09 is yet to see the light of day. This is no surprise. Every policy in Meghalaya has a very long gestation period. The Mining Policy was promised to be the New Year’s gift for 2011. We are yet to see this Policy in black and white. It continues to remain a draft bill. Perhaps the Mining Policy will be treading on too many toes and the Government or political parties do not want to rub anyone the wrong way before 2013. Or, the minister concerned does not wish to be hanged on account of the legislation. Meanwhile mining has taken an irreversible toll on the ecology of Meghalaya. This is manifested in the exponential growth in the number of trucks passing through the heart of the city and causing tremendous jams daily, apart from the heavy pollution.

Then we have the Youth Policy which has reportedly been drafted by someone in the Secretariat without as much as a consultation with the key stakeholders – the youth. 2012 is being declared as the Year of Youth by the MUA Government. Hence it is expected that special programmes for youth such as skills development for entrepreneurship etc will be rolled out in that year. A similar thrust will also be given to sports, education and anything that promotes the general well being of young people. In fact the State Education Policy that is lying in some file in the secretariat would dovetail very well with the Youth Policy. Can we expect some convergence here? Or do we compartmentalise and pigeon hole every department to make things complicated? This tendency to create fiefdoms of every department and the inability to bring departments with similar objectives to work together has caused governance gaps in Meghalaya. There is also a Health Policy that was discussed and deliberated upon but not passed as yet. A policy is a road map for the Department and for those who work there so that they know what to implement and how. Without a policy, politicians and officials can take arbitrary decisions which are detrimental to the larger interests of the State. It is this unwillingness to give up the policy of arbitrariness that prevents the Government from coming out with clear cut policies. But in the meantime things are implemented haphazardly. One of the reasons why the 2-G scam was unearthed is because of the existence of a clear cut Telecom Policy which was violated by those in power. A policy is therefore important if we are to checkmate the government.

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