In a country like India, measuring the impact of government is very important and one such area which impacts the society directly is the role of Street Level Bureaucrats. The gap between the public and the government is the space where the SLB’s come in direct contact with the public. They are directly in contact with the people and are often interpreted as the implementers of the government’s policy and agendas.
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Street Level Bureaucrats are termed by Michael Lipsky in his work, ‘Toward a theory of street level bureaucracy’ as officials employed by the government who perform certain specific duties. These duties mainly include being in direct contact with the public, have substantial influence on the life of the citizen and explain the impact of bureaucracy on the citizens. The decision taken by an official will directly impact the life of the citizen and hence the the duties and expectations from a SLB becomes a sensitive topic to be fiddled with. Teachers, judges, police officers, health care workers are all example of a SLB and the work they provide directly impacts the public.
Lipsky in his work suggested few common problems faced by SLB’s. The problems detected by Lipsky are 1. Lack of resources (Both personal and organisational) 2. Physical and Psychological Threat and 3. Contradictory and unattainable role expectations. These problems persist in almost every society and hinders the growth of the public as the functioning of these SLB directly impacts the growth of a society.
Keeping in mind Lipsky’s work and the role of SLB, we decided to find out about the condition of Traffic Police Officials (SLB level) in South Mumbai. They were asked about the resources they are provided with, the risk on their health both physically and psychologically, the impact of their work on day to day life as well as the expectations society has from them. After interviewing various officials, both male and female, certain common problems were noted down as well as how it degrades the impact of the SLB in that particular area.
In a city like Mumbai, where traffic is fast paced, the role of Traffic Police becomes very important. However, the traffic police has been restricted in many ways, some of which we will discuss below. Also, below we discuss the mechanism and techniques adopted by these officers to cope up with expectations of both, their superiors as well as their clients.
As we have discussed on our project about street level bureaucrats focusing on Mumbai traffic police, they are continuously on their toes to maintain the order on the Mumbai roads on daily basis in spite of facing so many issues and problems. The government and the local authorities should make sure that the traffic police have basic facilities like providing the toilet nearbuy traffic lights, hiring more individuals and onboard volunteers to take care of traffic during peak hours or on any occasion or during any festivals.
Providing regular health checkups to make sure they don’t fall sick regularly.
Open small break out areas near by traffic lights so that they can take a quick break for having lunch or snacks and encourage locals to help traffic police whenever needed.
Traffic police do a very tough job which requires good health, proper training, mental calmness so it’s everyone duty including ours to understand traffic sense in order to make their job a bit easier.
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