Importance of Proper Grievance Redressal Mechanism

Hunan life is about relations, the relations are among individuals, those among groups and the relations of individuals with groups – groups which are small, big and the biggest of all within the confines of a country or a state, that is, the government. These relations are about expectations and the failure to fulfill expectations result in grievances, but grievances not always have intentional causes.  An interesting thing about grievances is that they cannot be the sufficient enough reasons to break a relation. As long as there is a mechanism in place to redress grievances, the adverse impacts of grievances on relations can be prevented. Contrarily, when there is no grievance redressal mechanism in place, or when this mechanism is underperforming, it impacts the relations adversely and at times this deficiency leads the relations to a point of breakdown from where there is no return. 

 Here the limitation of the space will not permit to deal with the grievances in all types of relations. So, it is better to remain confined with the grievances that exist there in the relation of people with their government. These grievances, like all others, arise due to non-fulfillment of the expectations of the ruled by the government and government agencies. The governments at the outset have come into existence to fulfill all the necessities of life for the people which all the other associations are unable to provide.  Therefore, the governments have the obligation of providing large array of services, in the form of policies, programs and welfare schemes, to their subjects. However, the deficiency of adequate resources and other limitations hinder the governmental agencies to render these services to the people satisfactorily. This is the main reason for emergence of grievances and their multiplication.  

There are many other reasons which give rise to grievances against the government departments and their functionaries. These include their malfunctioning, corrupt practices, procedural lapses, lack of transparency & accountability, undue interference, and deficiency of skilled human resource. These unwanted practices hinder the performance and result in the piling up of more and more complaints. Moreover, in a democratic set up the expectations of people redouble; as compared to all other forms of government; and these practices become even more counterproductive for the overall well being of the relation of the ruled with their government. 

So, the grievance redressal mechanism in a democratic set up is important for the sustenance of the system itself. If the grievances of the people are timely solved, the people become satisfied with the working of the government and this satisfaction gives stability to the government. Realizing the cardinal importance of the grievance redressal mechanism most of the democratic governments have such mechanisms in place to solve the problems, issues and grievances and deliver all the services to the people as per the fundamental principle of this type of government.  Nevertheless, it is not only the existence of the grievance redressal mechanism but its performance which makes one government, that redresses grievances efficiently, successful and the other, which is underperforming on this account, as unsuccessful.  With most of the democratic governments, including our own, the grievance redressal mechanisms are duly in place but the systems are underperforming. The grievance redressal agencies are like the show pieces in a gallery with much gloss and less value to beguile the people that there complaints are taken care of when no such thing is actually being done. 

The biggest hindrance in the grievance redressal is the attitude of the government functionaries toward complaints of the people. These functionaries take complaints as something hostile to their jobs and an attempt, on part of the people who make complaints, to harm these employees. In reality complaints are ways available with the people to express their problems and helplessness. The better way to deal with the complaints is to look into them with empathy, sincerity and humane considerations. The complaints which are not genuine should be discarded but the genuine ones should be taken care of and the employee or the department should never hesitate in rectifying a mistake or performing an unperformed work. This method of dealing with the grievances even enhances the value and worth of these employees, and the departments they represent, for the people.  

Once the government functionaries start dealing with the complaints favorably, the next step is to encourage people to register all the complaints that exist there against the government. There should even be active efforts on part of the government functionaries to reach to the people and try to register their complaints. Yes, the reporting and registering of the grievances never means redressal of the grievances but it can create an inventory which will be an important indicator about progress that the government makes during the course of its working. On the contrary, in the current scheme there are much more complaints that are not reported than the ones that are reported. In this scheme the government might know about how much work has been done but it can’t know how much of it is still to be done unless all the complaints are registered.  Here it is the dispersal of information about the grievance redressal mechanism, and the means to reach to that, which could go a long way in proper registering of the grievances.  The educated youth can be encouraged or even incentivized to help people in registering their grievances. It is a known fact that lending an attentive ear to a person in distress relieves that the pain of that person to a large extent. The same is true about the government; the mere registering the grievance of a person gives great satisfaction to that person towards the government. Thus, half the battle is won once the grievances are registered; their redressal is the next step to be pursued vigorously. 

Further, grievances are an important means to know about different programs & policies that government announces from time to time, and their implementation. The complaints against such programs, policies and schemes suggest that something needs to be done to enhance their effectiveness. And, necessary corrective actions and modifications are brought in to achieve the desired objectives out of the policies, programs and schemes of government. Hence, it is necessary to register as many complaints as there exist against programs, policies and schemes to get optimum outcomes out of them.  

A point to be noted here is that the grievance redressal system is made a separate branch of government which should not be the case. This system should be an integrated whole with its branches in each and every department. Each branch should be provided with all the modern information technology tools for registering grievances and their redressal. These tools can enable these branches to receive complaints from the remotest corners of the State, when grievance redressal is concerned in case of Jammu & Kashmir, without actually visiting these areas. This could even cure the current condition of neglect which one division of the state of the State suffers when the Darbar Moves from that region. Also there should be a coordinating hub headed by the most important and honest functionary in the entire government machinery with adequate powers to summon any information or authority in connection with the grievance redressal of the people. 

Thus, the adequate registering of grievances and the initiation of their redressal creates a sense of belongingness between the rulers and the ruled, a sense where people think that they are cared and valued by their government.  So the people give up the hostility and apathy, as currently the case, against the government and there emerges an ambience of cordial relations. The cordial relations result in peace and satisfaction in the people which gives stability to the government. A stable government can take bold decisions about the welfare of the people and the decisions are trusted by the general public. 

As far as the State of Jammu & Kashmir is concerned, the grievance redressal rate of the current government is appreciable, if the figures given by the government are to be believed. However, the figures are only about the reported and registered grievances which is only the tip of the iceberg, there are lot more grievances of humongous magnitude which are not registered at all. The urgency of the matter demands concrete steps to be taken towards this matter without losing any time. 

By way of conclusion, grievances are part of every relation and the relation of the people with the government is no exception. In this relation there are more grievances than in any other type of relation. The grievance redressal at this level becomes of utmost importance for the existence of the relation itself. If sincere, timely and efficient efforts are made towards this direction the relation becomes a boon for both parties – people & government and in the adverse case the relation becomes fragile and so become the entire gamut of government machinery. In the latter case, the interests of the people are least cared about. Therefore, proper grievance redressal mechanism is a win-win situation for all. It gives stability, peace, progress and development which are desperately needed in this part of the world.


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