Sunday, June 15, 2014


Modi Government's stress

By Amba Charan Vashishth

Governance is the key to a good administration. The malady of our governments in the past has been that we had a bloated government but a weak apparatus for governance. The then Finance Minister in the Manmohan Singh government, Mr. P. Chidambaram, had himself once admitted that the malady of the UPA government lay in “governance deficit”. The government allowed the administration to drift. It seemed to believe that it need not have to act. It allowed the problems and issues to drift in the hope that in the course of time these will find their own solution.

But it is not so with the new BJP-led NDA government of Mr. Narendra Modi who has decided to take head on the problems and the issues confronting the nation. He doesn’t wish to take chances. He wishes to himself work and make his colleagues to lend him their helping hand to work out solutions.

Shri Modi convened a second meeting of his cabinet in just three days of his being sworn in. He exhorted his ministers to chalk out a 100-day agenda with focus on efficient governance, delivery and implementation of programmes. He wants to make the decision making process fast and an inclusive affair by giving priority to the issues highlighted by the States and the MPs crucial to the country’s development. As against the previous government where Ministers of State complained of having no work to perform, Shri Modi has asked cabinet ministers to assign work to their junior ministers  All these steps were in line with the PM’s 10-point vision which primarily involved increasing investment, completing infrastructure projects in a time-bound manner and exploiting the natural resources for the country’s benefit with the issues like the price rise, agriculture and women safety  remaining in the priority zone.

Shri Modi does not believe, like his predecessors, in sweeping away to the dust bin the programmes of the previous government he inherited. He has decided to take forward these rotting for want of action and decision.
From his experience Shri Modi is aware that implementing a decision is much more vital than framing a policy however beneficial to the people it may be.
Similarly, a programme or policy needs to be implemented with no less intensity of the spirit with which it is formulated. A faulty and corrupt implementation may take out the very life and spirit of a welfare programme.
That is why Shri Modi wishes to take along not only the political class but also the bureaucracy.

To inject a sense of belonging to the bureaucracy in the formation and implementation of a policy, Shri Modi made a new beginning by meeting and speaking to administrative secretaries of more than 75 ministries on June 4. He was displaying his zeal to generate a “positive environment” in administration.  He has given a lie to the general perception among the political class that babudom is a hindrance to the realisation of dreams of the government in power. He sent out a positive signal to the bureaucray that in his scheme of things its role is central to implement his agenda of “minimum government and maximum governance”. This gesture has infused such a positive signal that a senior secretary is reported to have commented: “”It was a different experience. For four years, we had gotten used to the idea of even someone like the Cabinet Secretary not having the time to spare for secretaries, forget about the Prime Minister”.  Added another secretary: "Ït was a pleasant change. One came away with the feeling that he (Modi) means business and has the ability to take important decisions".

The Industrial Policy and Promotion Secretary Amitabh Kant was so impressed that he tweeted: First time in my career frank and fearless interaction with the Prime Minister of the country. Highly motivating, great flow of ideas.

But some people  are trying to read something wrong in this positive gesture of the PM. Some have interpreted it as undermining the position of the ministers when secretaries meet the PM directly. It makes no difference as long as the bridges of communication between the three organs — the secretary, the minister and the Prime Minister — are kept alive. The problem will arise only when egos clash. And a conflict of egos never augurs well for anybody, high or low, in any situation.

Even if an idea directly propounded by a secretary clicks with the PM, it can ultimately come to fruition only in consultation with the minister concerned.  Moreover, it is a normal practice that in the event of a difference of opinion between a secretary and a minister on any issue, the matter goes to the prime minister (chief minister in a State) for final decision and if necessary, it can land in the council of ministers' court even.   

The doubts being aired that the bureaucracy will rule the roost overriding the ruling class are misplaced. unfounded and far-fetched. If under Shri Modi this could not happen in Gujarat, it can never occur in Delhi too.                        *** 

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