As elected representatives, my fellow colleagues and I have a tremendous responsibility for ensuring quality public service delivery to our constituents. While one of the main roles of an MP is to legislate, the Union government has decentralised and institutionalised our role by establishing monitoring mechanisms to allow for community service through close supervision of programs. One of these is the District Development Coordination and Monitoring Committee, also known as “DISHA” committees.
“Disha” is a Hindi word which means “direction”. Chaired by MPs like myself, the objective of these committees is to review the progress of over 40 centrally sponsored schemes at the district level, formulate action plans to address existing challenges and regularly visit the facilities to see how these programmes are being implemented on the ground. Performing these tasks regularly not only keeps me updated about the state of affairs in my constituency, but it also increases my accountability to the people I have pledged to serve and enhances their confidence in me as their representative.
Having chaired all DISHA meetings in my district Churu, I noticed how these meetings expedite the process of identifying and addressing developmental bottlenecks. For instance, through interactions in one of the DISHA meetings, I learnt that Churu was facing a huge road safety hazard owing to a few black spots which were more prone to accidents. I brought this up with relevant district-level authorities, including the district magistrate, to undertake corrective mechanisms.
This encounter further delved me to study the issue of road safety in India. Currently, India attributes 17 deaths and 55 road accidents every hour. Startled by the fact that around two crore drivers of 96 lakh commercial vehicles in India were not trained properly, in my capacity as a member of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Road Transport, I raised the issue of establishing driving and training institutes with simulators and asking vehicle manufacturing companies to train drivers as part of their CSR activities. I was particularly ecstatic to witness some of my recommendations adopted by the Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Bill, 2017, which seeks to amend the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988, passed in the Lok Sabha.
DISHA meetings have also served as an excellent platform for increasing accountability and transparency. As an MP of Churu, I recognised the importance of women’s rights and quality health care which is a precondition for sustainable growth and poverty reduction in the constituency. MPs chairing the DISHA meeting can regularly seek information from district officials and program implementers about the performance of each programme, improvement in key indicators, such as institutional delivery rates, exclusive breastfeeding and anaemia.
DISHA meetings are also a powerful and potent tool for participatory governance. My conversations with various health officials have informed me about the challenges faced by people. My learning is further enriched by regular visits to facilities which allows me to observe, first hand, the bottlenecks that hinder the smooth functioning of programs. Both of these inform my deliberations on pertinent policy issues in the parliament and gives me a range of questions to raise among policy experts and decision-makers.
I urge other MPs to regularly attend DISHA meetings and utilise the platform to improve the implementation of programmes focused on the wellbeing of their constituency, especially the vulnerable.
Direct action by MPs and regular check on the quality of services delivered based on insights gained from DISHA meetings can significantly contribute to the development of ‘New India’.
The author is Member of Parliament, Lok Sabha (Churu, Rajasthan).
Updated Date: Aug 13, 2019 12:44:44 IST