Gajalakshmi Paramasivam-23 February 2016
‘Devolution v Project Basis’
Yesterday was Masi-Maham in Tamil-Hindu calendar. I learnt about the existence of this particular festival in 2005 during my Post-Tsunami Reconstruction Service. I came to Colombo after going through the Public Administrators in Vaharai in Batticaloa area in Eastern Sri Lanka. Those Administrators said I needed to take my proposal to the Ministry for approval. I did not know what the process was in Sri Lanka. But I had developed deep investment in Public Service in Australia – especially by absorbing defeats dished out by the Executive as well as the Judiciary. It’s the philosophy underpinning ‘for better or for worse’ promises. One who is Equal minded towards better and worse is FAMILY. It was by absorbing the pain of loss that I became family and v.v. Family works the system internally. Back in 2005 – I went to the temple and when I came out I felt influenced from inside to call a relative by marriage who was fairly high up in Hindu Temple Administration. That evening I ended up meeting the President – Madam Kumaratunga – who engaged with me and eventually approved the plan submitted by me. I believe that the auspicious timing of Masi Maham was the ‘root’ power of this elevation of my work to the highest level.
Yesterday, again on Masi Maham day I received an email invitation from the Australian Department of Immigration & Border Protection who addresses me as ‘Stakeholder’, to make submission to formulate Australia’s Humanitarian Program 2016-17. The amazing discovery by me is that this includes also provisions to be made in the new Constitution of Sri Lanka – for which also the Sri Lankan Government is seeking Public input. In Sri Lanka – I am yet to receive confirmation of my high level contribution to Policy on ongoing basis – whereas in Australia – I have been asked many times for such contributions at policy level. In Sri Lanka such recognition are empowered by Natural Forces – as happened in 2005 and in Australia there is a greater contribution by Australian Government to include the Public in the processes of global significance. Migrants are able to contribute to this through their own experiences.
In terms of amendments to the Sri Lankan Constitution, I believe that the discoveries I make in areas where the seeds of Tamil Rebellion were sown and where victims were specially targeted – for going Public – would empower the roots of the Real Constitution of this part of Sri Lanka. To the extent I draw the picture as a Sri Lankan – it would answer to the call of and empower any Sri Lankan needing support in that issue. My discoveries include the issue of International Judges in Sri Lankan war – and the extent to which higher laws could facilitate the use of ‘right’ pathway that would lead all genuine seekers to find their own solution. Towards this came to mind, my work this week, in preparing a paper for University of Jaffna, in which I highlighted the need to use ‘Project’ basis as follows:
[The hierarchical system is largely time based and is driven by vertical structuring of Management Resources. Given that Public Service is required to operate close to Policy – Public Service has largely been program-based and did not relate directly to Objectively measurable outcomes. It’s like ‘internal’ management with only the top person showing objectively measurable outcomes to the Public.
The more distant the Citizen/Service-Receiver became to the Government / Service Provider, the weaker the connection between the Provider and the Receiver became. This often resulted in the Receiver acting on her/his own once s/he had custody of outcomes. The system of Democracy which at primary level was based on majority rule, brought about the need for objectively driven outcomes to be produced by the person with custody of resources. Hence at the beginning as well as at the end – costs and benefits respectively - were quantified to be specific to an Activity and the Activity was required to at least break-even. Hence the structure is close to Business Unit type – promoting Equal status between the Customer and the Supplier.
To the extent Human Resources are stronger than Money Resources – the Management system would need to be more hierarchical in structure. Transparency of process, is essential for such vertical structures to also qualify as being democratic. Merging the flat system with the vertical system is the strongest challenge faced by this generation at all levels.
Measuring Resources and Outcomes
Resources allocated to an Activity as well as outcomes produced by the Activity would be of following categories:
2. Human Resources
Under the Vertical system, Policy component tends to be a greater part than the other two. Under the lateral system – the money component tends to be greater than the other two. The more the customer is considered an outsider by the supplier and/or v.v. – the greater the need for emphasis on objectively measurable outcomes – which could commonly be classified as money outcomes. Such Services are more effectively provided on Project basis than on Program basis. Where the Supplier and the Customer are more ‘internal’ in nature and the pains and pleasures of one are felt by the other – the more appropriate system is Subjective Management which shows no objectively measurable Public Outcomes on the way.
Where in reality Public outcomes have been shown on the way as regular practice, it becomes healthier to separate such units / activities to stand alone and be dealt with on project basis. Such units / activities must show objectively measurable outcomes at that level. Some would operate as internal units – where ‘internal’ customers are in the majority. Those units with more external customers, would operate as units Equal to the parent, by publishing independent outcomes available to the Public. The test of this independent Public Status is that the outcome/produce should be Equally available to all customers. Where some get preferential treatment over others – such unit disqualifies to ‘go democratic’. ]
When JVP in South and LTTE in North rebelled – they were promising their own Government in areas which had become distant from Central Government. This could have been prevented if we had moved towards Project basis for areas that ‘produced’ their own outcomes. Devolution recognizes human authority above money authority. Where Central Government fails to demonstrate identity with a person in remote parts of the Country/Institution – there is no authority to take higher position by one over the other. That is when Project basis would save the whole from bottom up rebellion which is often Reverse-Discrimination. Devolution would make this ‘internal’ to the Devolved unit – for example – Northern Sri Lanka.
Jaffna could be the model of ‘Project’ based approach to cure the Nation of its Rebellion genes – which could develop as Terrorism when there is ‘external’ influence on either or both sides.
Project based approach needs to be Constitutionalized in Sri Lanka. When this is done genuinely – it would naturally do away with the need for direct International minds after the outcomes have been produced locally. Policy when formulated and adopted genuinely – would eliminate external interference – for Truth is Sovereign.