There should be a decentralised system for implementation of policies, says Bimal Jalan

Kolkata: Amid simmering controversies over the independence of various institutions in the country, former Reserve Bank of India Governor Bimal Jalan on Sunday said there should be a decentralised system for implementation of policies. Jalan also called for “political reforms” in order to alleviate poverty and to realise the economic potential. “We do not have to have imperial heritage in terms of governance.

The Centre or the state can decide on a policy but the implementation and accountability has to be centred on the institutions, which is not happening,” Jalan said while addressing the 202nd Founders’ Day Celebration organised by Presidency University.

He referred to the offices of the Election Commission, the Union Public Service Commission and the Comptroller and Auditor General of India which, according to him, are doing a good job as they are accountable to the people. “It has to be decentralised. Policy decision (can be taken) by the government but implementation (should be done) by independent institutions…

Given that the institutions have been set up in public interest, then they should be autonomous,” Jalan said on the sidelines of the programme. He added that the administrative system needs to be strengthened and made much more “public oriented rather than government-oriented, which is the case now”. Despite having strong economic fundamentals and factors of production which are among the best in the world, the country has a large number of people living below the poverty line and its ranking in the Human Development Index is low, he said.

“Why is it that we can’t alleviate poverty which according to the second plan was supposed to be abolished by 1980? Economic fundamentals and factors of production are among the best in the world. There are also some negatives in terms of governance and working of our politics which need to be taken into account,” said Jalan, who is the Chairman of the newly constituted expert committee on the Economic Capital Framework of the RBI.

The former RBI governor said there is a “disjuncture between economic prospects, which is among the best in the world, and functioning of our political system”. “This is another issue that the next generation has to tackle… Why can’t politicians also be accountable for performance, not in terms of what they are doing in Parliament but on the performance on ground?” he asked. “As we look ahead, we need to do something not only in the economic area to alleviate poverty but also in the political area to actually realise our economic potential.

This is where politics is important. Politics is not separate from economics. Economics is subsidiary to politics,” he said. According to him, India can become one of the fastest growing countries in the world and remain so, with complete alleviation of poverty in the next 10 to 15 years. When asked about the new committee, he declined to comment but said the first meeting of the panel was held recently and it would submit its report within three months of the first meeting.

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