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30
Oct 2013

DIWALI GIFT FOR MAHARASHTRA’S DEVELOPMENT
2:23 pm UTC

Abhijit Pawar,

Managing director, Sakal Media Group

Over the last 45 days, the Sakal Media Group has through its initiative ‘Maharashtra’s Expectations’ tried to understand the expectations of the people of Maharashtra about development in different sectors. The discussions not only brought out the issues in various sectors, but also gave the hope that these can be addressed. It is the first attempt in the State and also the first attempt by the media to understand what the people want. While this brainstorming was on, many people wanted to know, ‘what next?’ At a time when everyone only talks about problems rather than solutions, this question is obvious. We will not stop here. Our focus is on finding solutions. We therefore bring you this special issue which talks about solutions and their implementation. It is our ‘Delivering Change Programme’ which will bring about this change. This, is a Diwali Gift for Maharashtra. From brainstorming and public awareness, the Sakal Media Group is now moving towards action.

The expectations of the people have been pouring in since the last 45 days. The participation of the common people and experts, along with study and research has given a clear picture of what Maharashtra wants. The leaders of all political parties took an interest and participated in this exercise. They showed their readiness to support the apolitical initiative of development and therein lies the success of this model.

Giving an opportunity to the people to express themselves was an important part of this initiative. We have developed a scientific model of prioritising the issues and solving it. In Malaysia, Pemandu (Performance Management and Delivering Unit), a unit in the Prime Minister’s Office serves to bring about overall development. The salient feature of this system is that all stakeholders come together to draw a plan to address the problem. This is put into action in a planned manner. Their government is responsible for realising this plan. The Malaysian government calls it the Big Fast Results (BFR) system. Sakal Media Group has developed a system called the Sakal Trinity 7 (ST7).

ST7 involves identification of the problem through public participation, looking at solutions through involvement of all stakeholders and then putting pressure to implement the measures for solutions. A women’s initiative to understand their views, through a public referendum, is a significant feature of this system. Through the network of Tanishka Women’s Dignity Forum of the Sakal Media Group, it is possible to get the opinion of every household in the State. Even the Malaysian government has said that this system developed by Sakal’s model is a step ahead. We believe that through the combination of both, it is possible to draw up a time-bound plan to give a direction to Maharashtra’s development. Sakal Media Group is looking to formalise a joint partnership with PEMANDU. This system is capable of scientifically handling the developmental issues faced by any society. It is not just economic development. We are looking at achieving value-oriented development.

In the next phase, the experts and stakeholders from respective sectors will draw up the priority list for development, through discussions for 6 to 8 weeks and come up with a plan for implementation of the same. Through this ‘lab’ technique, the direction of development of the respective sectors will be clear. Some experts will be invited to participate in these labs. The conclusions that emerge from these labs will be a treasure trove of information. Sakal Media Group has started the Sakal International Learning Centre (SILC) which will be providing education and training for developing the needed skills. The information that will come out through the labs will also be used to design courses which will be beneficial for training skilled manpower for respective sectors.

The pre-lab, where discussions were held in Pune for the last 45 days was organised before the lab stage. Many times, enough statistics is not available and sometimes varying statistics on the same sector is provided by different sections of the government.

While moving towards a plan which can be implemented, we need to remove such hurdles. The Sakal Media Group is ready to make all efforts for this and is expecting everyone’s support. These issues cannot be solved through criticism. When the government system and the agitations by civic society fail to find answers to certain issues, then there is a need for an apolitical platform, which can increase the confidence among stakeholders to solve these issues. The Sakal Media Group’s effort is to provide this non-political platform. The system that we are suggesting is all inclusive and open to all. It does not belong to any particular political party. We are focusing on bringing in the change in the next five years. Whoever comes to power in the State is expected to take forward this agenda of the people. It is a sincere effort to achieve development of all.

Generally, experts do the planning, but these plans are not implemented. Sometimes, the implementation is not effective. There are differences in planning too. The experts differ over priorities. Our ‘Maharashtra’s Expectations’ initiative has indicated that several issues have been pending for over 20 years. This means the conventional method is faulty. We need to adopt new methods. For this, it is important to know the needs of society. The experts and planners need to be updated about these expectations. The model developed by Sakal, includes a system to know the changing needs of the people. People’s involvement is the most significant feature of this system.

Even though we elect our representatives every five years, there has to be a system in place through which people can convey their expectations to the government. Public opinion will give a direction to development. Sometimes, the government tries to get an idea of public opinion on an issue through surveys but all sections of the society are not involved in it. Through the system suggested by Sakal, public opinion on any issue can be obtained any time. Thus, the whole State can give its opinion on specific issues whenever needed. This would be helpful to the government and administration.

If the family is considered as the unit to know what Maharashtra wants, then women’s participation is important. Sakal will soon announce another system which will help the women of the State to express their opinions. This will give rise to collective vision for development.

Before declaring the ‘Delivering Change Programme’ (DCP) we studied 16 sectors in detail. These sectors touch the lives of the common people. These include, Industrial development, finance and revenue, basic infrastructure, social development, rural development, Home, power, judicial system, cooperative and textiles, agriculture, water, health and food and drug administration, tourism-culture, information technology, entertainment, education and training. We got public opinion on the issues and then with the help of the experts from the respective fields, came up with a vision document. The demands are numerous. We will have to prioritise them as fulfilling the wrong demands would lead to problems for future generations.

We need to have a balanced view while deciding the future plan of action. The attempts to pressure the government by provoking mob behaviour should stop. The DCP is a step forward towards action-oriented journalism. We believe that with the involvement and consensus of all stakeholders, DCP can guide the State towards development. While drawing up a plan to address the issues, financial provision is the most important factor. Without huge investments, long pending issues cannot be addressed. Talks are on with some big international financial companies, who can invest in this project. There is positive response from agencies like Khazanah.

The investors want the State and the country to perform well consistently. With everyone’s support it is possible to guarantee consistently good performances through the model started by Sakal. Investments through Indian agencies will also be needed. Instead of depending on foreign investment every time, we should look at domestic investments through public participation which can be a better alternative. Many major projects in India have foreign investments and this benefits the foreign investors. Instead, if we invest domestically, it will benefit us. Like the Japanese, we should also say ‘India First’. If people decide to participate then public-private partnership owned by the people can come into existence. There is a price for development and the common people know they have to pay it and are ready to pay it.

The new thought of development that the Sakal Media Group is proposing has been proved. The ‘Pune Bus Day’ is an example. 70 lakh Punekars could come together to solve a complex problem like public transport and help to bring the plan into action and address the issue. The Tanishka Women’s Dignity Forum too has been solving the issues in villages. An initiative like ‘Water Conclave’ led to the making of a blue print to eradicate water scarcity. Whatever we had announced during Pune Bus Day or Water Conclave has been fulfilled. We are happy that we could keep our promise to the people by converting our announcements into action.

The model proposed by Sakal has been successful. ‘Maharashtra’s Expectations’ was another step ahead. More efforts are needed to fulfill the expectations of the people of Maharashtra. We have stated how the major issues in 16 sectors can be resolved through DCP. This model has been endorsed by the India Backbone Implementation Network (IbIn) of the Planning Commission of India. Sakal Media Group is looking to formalise a joint partnership with PEMANDU. India@75, the organisation comprising major industrialists of India have also supported DCP. Political leaders of all parties, ministers and senior bureaucrats in the state have shown interest in Sakal’s model and expressed hope that it would give a direction to development.

We have been working on this model for the last few months. The response from India and abroad has been encouraging. We are grateful to all the institutes, organisations and individuals who have participated in this effort. We are confident that with public participation, the women’s platform which has been gathering public support and through involvement of the society, the development of Maharashtra will find a direction. We are confident that Maharashtra will support this initiative. While celebrating Diwali, let us give each other a Diwali gift by participating in this initiative which will lead us to sustainable development.

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