Governance is not about an elite few deciding what is good for the people, but it is all about making stakeholders an integral part of the decision-making process. A diverse society like ours, with a vast variation in socio-economic profile, poses multiple challenges to policymakers. The test of leadership mettle lies in harmonising the interests of various communities and reaching out to them directly to resolve their grievances. A true leader is one who finds news ways to democratise the policy-making process and involves people in shaping their future. A look at the recent initiatives taken by Chief Minister K Chandrashekhar Rao reveals a refreshing approach to tackling the long-pending problems of various social groups. Establishing a direct contact with the people and engaging them in conversations to understand and resolve their problems has been the hallmark of his leadership. Whether it was the initiative to make the implementation of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes sub-plans more effective or resolving the problems of Anganwadi workers, contract workers or the welfare of those involved in traditional occupations like weavers, shepherds, goldsmiths and fishermen, the Chief Minister’s approach has been direct, sincere and unambiguous and reflective of his deep commitment to involve all sections of society in the developmental process.
The recent announcement of a huge salary hike for Anganwadi workers, from Rs 7,000 per month to Rs 10,500, and designating them as Anganwadi teachers has brought cheers on their faces. This is the second hike within two years — the Chief Minister had increased their salary in February 2015 from Rs 4,200 to Rs 7,000 per month. This will benefit over 67,400 employees. In a novel gesture, KCR had recently convened a meeting with SC, ST MPs, MLAs and MLCs of all parties to elicit their feedback on various issues facing the communities and to seek their views on strengthening the implementation of sub-plans. Separate committees for SC and ST welfare, comprising lawmakers from all parties, have been constituted to conduct field studies and come up with concrete proposals for optimal utilisation of funds. Despite accounting for nearly 85 percent of Telangana’s population, the weaker sections have not received due attention by successive governments in the past. A significant feature of the new welfare approach is that the public representatives of SCs and STs, across the political spectrum, would be actively involved to identify the needs of these communities and formulate strategies for their development. No wonder that even the opposition leaders showered praise on the Chief Minister. A sharp and well-targeted welfare policy, with the active involvement of the stakeholders, is the way forward to ensure all-round development.