Have you ever been annoyed by the sheer slackness with which the wheels of our bureaucracy operate? Do you feel that the government does not respond to your basic needs- like getting a passport, driver’s license or ration card- on time? The fact that government is slow and inefficient has been repeated so often that it has become a truism. However things are changing in Karnataka with the launch of the state’s latest citizen friendly scheme- Sakala. Sakala, which means ‘in time’ or ‘good time’ in Kannada, was launched in April 2012 in Bangalore. It is the State’s Guarantee of Services to Citizens programme which is aimed to reduce the corruption, bribe and red-tapism in Government and bring transparency in administration. Under the scheme, citizens are entitled to receive a wide list of government services within a scheduled time period and if the service is delayed, the bureaucrat is responsible has to pay a fine to the citizen from his own pocket. Hence its stays true to its tag line- “It is your right to obtain citizen related services in time” Sakala is again back in focus because the union government is currently planning to pass a national legislation which provides for time-bound delivery of government services. The Right of Citizens for Time-Bound Delivery of Goods and Services and Redressal of their Grievances Bill was approved by Union Cabinet on March 7th. However, this bill has come under severe criticism from the opposition on the ground that it seeks to overturn stronger laws on the same topic passed by various state governments, including Karnataka. One of the important aspects of Karnataka’s Sakala is that, with 265 different government services, the state has brought the maximum number of services for time-bound delivery. The push for time bound service delivery is part of a recent set of initiatress which seek to tighten up our bureaucracy of its slumber and make it more responsive. Efforts to make the government more transparent began with the movement for Right to Information which resulted in the RTI act in 2005. However, RTI merely provided information about the status of various government’s activities and schemes but didn’t have the power to fix it. Sakala and similar laws passed by various states is unique because it goes one step further and ensures that citizens’ demands are met on time. One of the interesting things about the various time bound service delivery legislations is that they were government-initiated and unlike RTI, did not come due to any civil society movement. Madhya Pradesh was the first state in India to enact Right to Service Act on August 2010. This was followed many other states including Bihar, Karnataka, , Delhi, Punjab, Kerala, Uttar Pradesh and others. So far eleven different state governments have enacted various versions of the Right to Time Bound Delivery of Services law. Under Sakala, every citizen who applied for a service is provided with a 15-digit unique Guarantee Service Citizen (GSC) Number which is an acknowledgement receipt. The GSC number can be used to monitor the status of the application through the internet or even through SMS. For different services, different time limits are set. For example, if one wants to get a driver's license, the RTO / Assistant RTO is the Designated Officer who is responsible to provide the service within 30 days. If the deadline is not met, a citizen can complain to Deputy Commissioner of Transport (DCT), who is the Competent Officer. The Competent Officer shall address the appeal in 15 days and can penalize the Designated Officer fine with fine of Rs. 20 per day of delay up to maximum of Rs. 500. The Centre for Public Policy at Indian Institute of Management (IIM) Bangalore conducted a study between March and May 2012 on the pilots carried out by the Sakala Mission. A field study in Puttur taluk of Dakshina Kannada district found that the level of awareness of Sakala was very less with a majority of the citizens unaware of the scheme. Sakala is a major initiative that has a direct bearing on the citizens and hence the voters.