“Rethinking Bureaucracy and Governance for a post-COVID India”
Ms Vini Mahajan, IAS, Chief Secretary, Government of Punjab
Office of PR & Communications17 January, 2021 | 5 min read
On the 16th of January 2021, Ashoka Distinguished Policy Speaker Series had the privilege of hosting Ms Vini Mahajan, IAS, Chief Secretary, Government of Punjab for the webinar series Women in Policy Speaker Series on the topic ‘Rethinking Bureaucracy and Governance for a post-covid India.’
The series was divided into a one hour webinar followed by a virtual lounge where Ms. Mahajan interacted with the faculty and students of Ashoka University and answered their questions related to e-governance, maternal mortality rate in Punjab and ethical dilemmas surrounding the civil servants. India’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic has brought to the fore, the essential role of the state and its officials. Civil Servants, across the country, handled unprecedented circumstances with renewed vigour, some even losing their lives. From administering the lockdowns to vaccination drives, the bureaucratic personnel of India has been active and will continue to be involved in ensuring that the crisis is handled in the best possible manner. The pandemic presents us with challenges of rising unemployment, falling state revenue and a shrinking economy which act as systemic constraints to good governance and effective administration.Given the structural problems faced by India such as the negative growth rates of the economy at a macro level as well as a micro level in terms of the migrant workers going home the role of the bureaucracy is essential.
The talk by Ms. Mahajan reinforced the importance of social goods for a country. Covid has brought to light the impact of the private vs public, digital world and healthcare. Thus, the government is entitled with the responsibility of availability of resources. One of the major issues that she pointed to was the lack of information in the private healthcare sector and hopes that the pandemic brings these issues to light for better governance. It is integral that the government maintains increased emphasis on healthcare and partnerships with the private sectors as these will be in the interest of the people. The talk reiterated the importance of partnership between the government and civic minded citizens and non-governmental organisations to solve many problems faced by the country.
Keeping this is minded the Chief Secretary emphasized on the fact that Ashokans have social consciousness and have the capability to work for the benefit of this country and they should consider joining the Indian Civil Servants or partnering with the government in other ways. Ashokans can contribute to the government by partnerships as well and need not necessarily join the civil services. Thus, by saying this Ms.Mahajan emphasized on the fact that there are many ways in which citizens can contribute to the betterment of the country and one does not have to be a part of the civil services to serve our country. The government could benefit from the vast talent pool the Ashokans have to offer. Seeing the students at the webinar Ms. Mahajan believes that the country is in bright young hands. The session of the distinguished policy webinar was moderated by a bright second year Ms Amisha Singh, who is majoring in Politics, Philosophy and Economics and is also the Vice President ( strategy and coordination) of this distinguished policy series.
By Meher Manga, Ashoka Undergraduate