A two-time MLA, Kavita Jain (42) is still grappling with the task of understanding nuances of governance, but is confident of making a difference nonetheless. Confident and cautious, the new minister tells Special Correspondent Rajesh Moudgil that cleansing of system is what is urgently required. Excerpts from the interview:
Which are the priority areas you intend to focus on as a minister?
My department primarily deals with the welfare, pensions, allowances and other benefits to elderly, children and people belonging to scheduled castes and backward classes. I am, therefore, focusing on streamlining the functioning. There are numerous complaints from anganwadi centres and pension beneficiaries, besides issues pertaining to reimbursement of fees and other benefits to the SC, BC students.
What are the immediate challenges?
A hike of Rs 200 in old-age and widow pensions by our government would cost an additional `550 crore to the state exchequer. My immediate challenge is to streamline the system, curb irregularities and plug loopholes.
There were complaints of favouritism and corruption against the Congress regime. Will the BJP government be any different?
Like pensions, I am also alive to the issue of timely release of fee reimbursement, uniform, books and other benefits to SC, BC students even though there are many irregularities. There are also complaints regarding fake registration of children in anganwadi centres. Unlike the previous regimes, our government would not only take an immediate cognizance of complaints and act against the erring officials, but also strive to improve the system, ensuring better and healthy diet for children. In previous governments, all complaints were thrown into dustbins.
How do you plan to tackle mismanagement —fiscal as well as procedural (as pointed out by the chief minister in assembly) in the departments?
I am currently studying the same. But I am sure that we will bring overall improvement.
How do you intend to cut down extravagance and unfruitful expenditure?
We would cut down extravagance of all types. I am also keenly studying the methods to lessen the same. For example, some states supply raw material for meals for kids and some others give cooked meals. I will have to study these different models.
How do you react to the crimes against women, Dalits and children in Haryana?
It is a painful issue. We all know the situation here. Our government would take stern steps. I also plan to take it up as a social issue in a big way with the help of social organisations, radio, television, etc., at schools, colleges and all other platforms to create awareness and empower women.