Think Learn & Perform (TLP)

The Only Dedicated Platform for UPSC Mains Answer Writing

Day 70 – Q 1. What is a citizen charter? Do you agree with the assertion that citizen charters act as mere optics and have no substance on ground?

1. What is a citizen charter? Do you agree with the assertion that citizen charters act as mere optics and have no substance on ground? 

नागरिक चार्टर क्या है? क्या आप इस दावे से सहमत हैं कि नागरिक चार्टर्स केवल एक प्रकाशिकी के रूप में कार्य करते हैं और जमीनी वास्तविकता में इनका कोई मोल नहीं है?


Citizen charter is the written voluntary declaration by service providers highlighting the standards, timeline, grievance redressal mechanism and other service-related information.


Started after the 1997 conference of chief ministers, citizen charter has changed the way of service delivery, but not living up to its expectations. There are issues in real time like

  • Public consultation: is largely absent and hence the charter prepared is not in tune with the citizen requirement.
  • Personnel training: is not done prior preparation and therefore implementation suffers. It is like putting cart before the horse.
  • Impractical standards/timeline: without adequate internal preparation making it very difficult if not impossible in field.
  • Awareness programmes are not conducted systematically and hence most clients are not even aware.
  • Some of the citizen charters are just information brochures like the Delhi transport without any interaction whatsoever.
  • Update: of the citizen charter happens very rarely making it not in tune with the ground requirements.
  • Even a research conducted by IIPA and report of 2nd ARC highlights the issues like poor design, too verbose, lacks precision. No benchmarks, inadequate grievance redress mechanisms and so on.
  • Lack of accountability for missed services has made the citizen charter a mere rhetorical document.

For the above reasons, citizen charter seems to be acting as mere optics with no actual substance on ground. However, citizen charter being a complete failure is an exaggeration. It has produced and is a reason for many reforms and successes like

  • Sevottam model as suggested by 2nd ARC and 6th pay commission has been adopted by many ministries and departments. Citizen charter of Indian post is one of the success stories.
  • Almost, 70% of the central government ministries have working citizen charters as per the government report.
  • As a next step to citizen charter, states like Madhya pradesh, Kerala etc., have passed right to service.
  • Citizen report card, Jan Bhaagidaari in cities like Bangalore, Delhi etc., are offshoots of citizen charter.

Though, there are shortcoming, citizen charter has brought awareness among citizens that the services provided by the government or an organization is their right. It is acting as a hindrance to the wrongdoings of the institutions and provide a channel to air the grievance.


‘Any policy will be as successful as its implementation’. It is true that the citizen charter has been implemented more in letter than in spirit and reforms is needed. 

Recommendations of 2nd ARC has to be implemented which includes achievable standards adoption, internal restructuring, wide consultations before formulation, periodic review, accountability for non-performance and so on. 

Right to service is the way forward along with the above and ‘The Right of Citizens for Time Bound Delivery of Goods and Services and Redressal of their Grievances Bill’, 2011 (Citizens Charter) which failed to pass has to be taken up and implemented.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email