It’s a good practice that the current Chief Minister watches television during his spare time; at least he was able to spot the Airtel money transfer advertisement that showed Goa in poor light. Known for his quick action he seem to have called the company and made sure the advertisement was pulled out in matter of hours.
Advertising companies in their eagerness to launch new products do cross the line, but that does not mean all advertisements are unpleasant. If watching television is the Chief Ministers past time, then surely he might have not missed the advertisement run by PCRA (Petroleum Conservation Research Association) where the father and son are in their stationery car at the traffic signal. Suddenly the son announces to his father that he will open a cycle repair shop when he grows up. On further quizzing by the father the son points out that his car engine is on, even though the car is at a stop. The son then goes on to say further, that if this practice continues there will be no petrol left for the next generation and everyone will be forced to ride the humble cycle, hence the cycle repair shop.
The father learns his lesson, switches off the car engine and acknowledges the intellect of his son. Are we Goans prepared to learn our lesson? Is Goa Government specially the tech savvy Chief Minister prepared to make changes in government processes that will not only conserve petrol of the government but also the helpless citizens of Goa?. Conserving petrol being a cost saving proposal is easy to comprehend, the more difficult is the realization that vehicles are responsible for green house gas emissions which harm the environment.
We cannot aim for zero vehicles on the road; even though the recent NO MO ZO type of initiatives have created awareness among the citizens and have shown the benefits of zero vehicles on the road. But we need to consider beyond just creating awareness and this can happen only with the timely intervention by government agencies.
Government policy changes are paramount because a sizeable amount of vehicles that ply on the road are a result of the manual mode of working the government chooses to do business with its citizens. Most vehicles can be put off the road, if it applied thought and computerized some of its processes where human contact is not essential. For example every Goan needs to still visit the town or the village center in their personal vehicle to make bill payments for utilities that are being provided and controlled by the Government.
Comparatively most Indian private banks and to a smaller extent public banks have mastered the art of online banking. Every process wherever possible is computerized and sometimes even incentivized and offered to their customers through online banking. Transfer of funds, payment of bills, ordering cheque books, checking bank balances now happen in the comfort of the customer’s office or home, 24x7 and without using up a single piece of paper. Imagine the positive effect it has on the environment if you add up all online transactions the bank processes, compare it with one transaction equal to one vehicle less on the road. No wonder most private banks hardly have any vehicles parked outside their offices, and even though their business is growing the size of their branches are getting smaller.
The private sector banks are forced to serve their customers online due to the healthy competitive market forces that exist among them. The Government of Goa while evaluating its processes need not study the working of these banks, instead they should take a lesson or two from the government owned Indian Railways and their attempt to computerize. At least they have attempted to make their ticket reservations online, although the online quota is a lot to be desired. Now they have gone one step ahead and advised customers not to print their E-tickets, instead carry it in electronic mode on their IPads, Laptops or mobiles or a simple confirmation sms, along with their identification papers. According to their website by making a small policy change they are now able to save 3 lakh A4 size paper per day. This saving is actually the passenger’s paper but it benefits the environment at large. The only saving for the railways is probably one less paper to litter for their passengers at the end of their journey.
Sometime decisions like these look diminutive but go a long way in making a powerful and positive impact on the environment. The Goa Government decision to demand written application from citizens for even the simplest of tasks needs immediate review. Leave aside citizens wasting their paper, the pressure it creates on the government ever depleting office spaces. Therefore their staff is unable to assign appropriate office space, to file sometime important but mostly unnecessary paper. We can’t aim for a complete paperless office but certain functions of the governments have just not kept up with time. No wonder most government offices have thrown unnecessary paper unfiled in some unused corner of their office and retrieval of a particular paper is next to impossible.
The Environment of Goa cannot be protected by politicians who once is a blue moon go about picking up litter from the street in the full glare of the media. The garbage of Goa is not going to disappear with some ‘high powered committee’ no matter how fancy you name the committee and meet umpteen times. Teaching Goan school or college Generation Next to pick up trash from the road side is a good intention, but has no meaning when there is no proper mechanism to punish the person guilty of throwing litter in the first place. Till that happens at least the Chief Minister can put his effort in using technology to its optimum in its government functioning. It should have a cascading effect on other Goan activities.