Haryana is a state in transition from a traditional society, with cultural and social mores that go back a long time, to an emerging one that is trying to embrace the 21st century with all its social influence. Change is always painful and Haryana is having to deal with this change.
The older generation finds it hard to accept changes in traditional lifestyle and practice that is being forced upon by law makers. The result is that while laws and policies are laid out, its implementation leaves a lot to be desired.
Too many laws; poor implementation
For instance, there are laws on child labour but if one were to conduct a survey across Haryana, a lot of households and factories would be seen employing underage children. Then there are laws regarding sexual harassment in the work place. While the law is clearly laid out there is little by way of implementation and women continue to suffer. It's only in cases where a woman speaks out and if the case gets highlighted in the media, does the case get registered. Even then, there is a lot of reluctance to pursue the matter by various authorities.
The laws are very clear for a fair and clear recruitment process for government jobs, but a closer look will reveal patterns where a particular caste or community or region is favoured. In many instances, the decision is based on the candidate's political leaning or even membership.
There is a law for bureaucrats to disclose their assets but more often than not these are not implemented. Likewise, there are policies and guidelines with regard to use of government housing and transport. Both are very often misused with impunity. One can often see the official car being used by the wife for shopping and other services like having the children picked up or dropped to school. Same for politicians and government officials when it comes to official tours overseas. Time and again the media reports of politicians and officials traveling with their spouses, relatives and friends under the garb of official tour. There are clear guidelines on these but who is to implement the law?
Take simple guidelines on issues like maintaining cleanliness. Did you know that there is a law against littering in public places? There is a law against driving without your seat belts but one visit to most towns of Haryana and you will find that the ones wearing seat belts are in minority.
Simple acts like coming to office on time or standing in a queue or smoking in public places are acts that differentiate a civil society from a not so civil one. Travel in any public bus in Haryana and there is a good chance that you can see the driver smoking in the bus. The regulations are all laid out but in the absence of any checks these issues continue to spread. In fact there is law and guideline laid out for almost everything but the problem lies in the implementation.
So what stops the administration from ensuring that laws and policies get enforced? The answer is lack of political will on part of the ruling government, lack of adequate deployment of manpower and monitoring processes and lastly, lack of time and resource to pursue these cases further.
No checks and balances
When was the last time you heard of the vigilance department carrying out surprise checks in any department, when they should be raiding offices, depots locations of all government offices on a daily basis. They don't do this because there is no complaint against anyone and if there is any complaint received against any official then political patronage or departmental patronage steps in to protect the individual from further investigation or pressure. This gets repeated on a daily basis across departments. This is also one of the prime reasons for rampant corruption at all levels of the government. It's a live and let live policy.
One visit to the road transport department, electricity, water or any office that has public dealing will reveal the harassment that a common man has to go through and this is despite all laws and procedures being clearly laid down.
Many departments are mandated to have internal checks and balances to keep vigil against those breaking the rules and when reported, these are rarely taken seriously and in almost all cases, the files gather dust after passing from one committee to another.
America showed the way
Then come the Police. The biggest challenge is who is to police the police? In the 1930s to 1950s in America, there was widespread corruption and organized crime that had entered all walks of life. The police was widely compromised. But it took some very honest officials from the Revenue Department and later the newly formed FBI that took upon itself to get rid of organized crime and corruption.
The laws were all there in America but there was no one to implement it nor was there any political will. But once the Revenue Department and later FBI decided to fight crime with existing laws to back them, America cleaned up its act pretty quickly and the rule of law was again established. This is the result when there is political will, which sadly the current administration clearly lacks.
Private sector equally guilty
It's not that the rules are not followed in government departments alone, the private sector is equally guilty of not adhering to the laid down laws and procedure. Most factory owners flout most laws, be it pertaining to emission standards, labour, wages, safety, storage and transportation, in almost all cases there is some violation or the other but no one to enforce the law. Here again it's a case of lack of manpower in various government departments and is further compounded by corruption and greed. This weakness is fully exploited by factory owners and at the cost of the exchequer and the environment.
In Haryana, there has been very little political will shown by the ruling party to establish the rule of law in all walks of life and not just law & order. It will not be an understatement to say that the administrative machinery is a mess in the state, with corruption, collusion, favouritism and crony capitalism rampant at all levels of the government.
It is now time for the people to stand up and demand their right to good governance and establishment of the rule of law. It is time for a Naya Haryana that is of the people, by the people and for the people, in the true sense.