Indian Government Asks For Budget Input On Facebook

A government panel in India is using Facebook to ask the 1.2 billion people in the country how they think taxpayer money should be spent.

A government panel in India is using Facebook to ask the 1.2 billion people in the country how they think taxpayer money should be spent.

The so-called India Planning Commission has named its Facebook page the “Twelfth Plan,” which refers to spending from 2012 through 2017. The creator of the page and a corresponding website, Montek Singh Ahluwalia, said the government panel chose Facebook for gathering input in order to hear from small villages and individuals rather than just business groups.

The input is also sought because there’s a lot of money on the table. For instance India’s government has $1 trillion set aside just for fixing potholes and eliminating power shortages, according to Reuters. The news agency quoted Ahluwalia telling reporters:

The intention is not that we are going to necessarily respond to every suggestion. But very often I hear people say that you fellows in the Planning Commission just set up steering groups with your own buddies and people you’ve known, and you’re all over sixty years old and you have people of the same age and most of them don’t have a clue what’s really going on… We must have some mechanism of connecting… If you want to criticize this as gimmicky, please do so.

While seeking input on Facebook seems like such a simple thing, it’s actually revolutionary when it’s a national government asking all of its people how to spend an infrastructure budget over a five year period. And it’s neat to see such a modern approach in a place like India; we are curious about how the endeavor will fare and whether it might become and example for other countries.

What do you think about India’s effort to get public input via Facebook on how to spend the government’s money?