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The Institution Of Governors to Play Crucial Role: Modi

Governors could leverage their experience in different walks of life

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The Institution Of Governors to Play Crucial Role: Modi
The Institution Of Governors to Play Crucial Role: Modi, flickr

Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Monday the Governors had a crucial role to play within the constitutional framework and they could ensure better implementation of the central schemes for the benefit of a larger section of the population.

Addressing the opening session of the 49th Conference of Governors at the Rashtrapati Bhavan, Modi said the Governors could leverage their experience in different walks of life to ensure people get the maximum benefit of various central development schemes and initiatives.

The institution of Governor had a “pivotal role to play within the federal structure and Constitutional framework of our country”, he said.

The Prime Minister said Governors of states with significant tribal population can help in ensuring financial inclusion of the tribal communities as well as in facilitating various government initiatives in fields such as education, sports and others to reach them.

This was in consonance with the message given by President Ram Nath Kovind earlier who asked the Governors to use their position in bringing about changes in the lives of those marginalised and enhancing higher education standards in the country.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi along with mayor
Prime Minister Narendra Modi along with mayor, flickr

The Prime Minister mentioned some key themes of development such as the National Nutrition Mission, electrification of villages and development parameters in the aspirational districts. He suggested that Governors could visit a few recently electrified villages to witness first-hand the benefits of electrification.

Noting that the Governors were also the Chancellors of state universities, he said they could help ensure that admissions, appointments, examinations and convocations were on time.

He said that International Yoga Day on June 21 could be utilized as an opportunity to generate greater awareness about yoga among the youth and the universities could also become the focal point for the celebrations for Mahatma Gandhi’s 150th anniversary.

Modi suggested that planning for the 50th Governors’ Conference next year should begin immediately. This effort should focus on making this annual event even more productive.

Earlier, in his inaugural address at the Conference, Kovind observed that the Governor was “a mentor and guide to the state and an important link in the federal structure”.

“As per the Constitution, the post of Governor has an exalted place in the scheme of governance. The Governor is a mentor and guide to the state and an important link in the federal structure.

“The people of the state view the office of the Governor and the Raj Bhavan as a fount of ideals and values,” he told the Governors and Lt Governors.

He said the Governors could help in shaping the roadmap for the betterment of lives of the citizens who have not benefited “as much as expected from our development journey”.

The central focus for this year’s conference is to sensitise the attending state heads to the programmes being implemented for citizens who have been left behind in the country’s developmental journey.

The two-day meet will discuss important issues including flagship programmes, internal security, higher education, skill development, steps taken on the report of Committee of Governors set up during the 48th Conference and commemoration of the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi.

It will also discuss schemes being run in the 115 aspirational districts across the country to help Governors better understand and enable them to guide the stakeholders in the welfare schemes for the poor, women, Dalits and tribals, farmers and young people, said Kovind.

“There are approximately 100 million people in our country who belong to the Scheduled Tribes. A majority of this population lives in regions that are covered under the Constitution’s Fifth and Sixth Schedule,” he said about the people who need support.

Also read: Modi visits Malaysian Prime minister

Apart from the Governors and Lt Governors of all states and Union Territories, Vice President M. Venkaiah Naidu, various Union Ministers besides the NITI Aayog CEO and other senior officials were also at the meet. (IANS)

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Remarkable Insight into How Governance in India Ought to be Upgraded

It is presumed that the Director LBSNAA, who was part of the planning of this important event, would have the full address of the PM placed

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Governance, India, Prime Minister
The profound message coming from him was that the officers of the All India Services were meant to work with a 'national mindset' regardless of what posts they held and that they must rise. Wikimedia Commons

With a remarkable insight into how the governance in this country ought to be upgraded, Prime Minister Modi while addressing the Probationers of Indian Civil Services attending the Foundational Course, outlined the big picture of ‘the mission and delivery’ that the officers manning the famed ‘steel frame’ of India were expected to measure up to in their long years of duty ahead. In a first time event, the officers who were in the early phase of their training were assembled at a place outside of the LBSNAA Mussoorie — at Kevadia in Gujarat, the venue of Sardar Patel’s statue — for the Prime Minister’s address on October 31 marking the National Unity Day.

The Prime Minister, in fact, spent the better part of the day with them. The profound message coming from him was that the officers of the All India Services were meant to work with a ‘national mindset’ regardless of what posts they held and that they must rise above domestic divisions of caste, creed and region to always decide on what would be in the larger interest of the nation and the common man. It is presumed that the Director LBSNAA, who was part of the planning of this important event, would have the full address of the PM placed in the libraries of the Mussoorie Academy as well as the premier training institutes of all national civil services.

The three most important points of strategic guidance that Prime Minister Narendra Modi presented to the young officers were that they should consider themselves primarily as service providers, that they should work for the higher objective of promoting ‘ease of living’ keeping the poorest in view and that they must not get into the habit of shunning decision making and yielding to the status quo. He reminded them that the bigger opportunities ‘that the nation was providing them’ also exposed them to higher responsibilities and told them upfront that negative perceptions about bureaucracy had to be ended. Perhaps the most incisive comment the Prime Minister made was that governance should neither have a ‘suppressive impact’ nor should it be ineffective to the point of creating the illusion that there was ‘no government’ in place. This last is the crux of what needs to happen in India by way of a demonstrable reform in governance.

Bureaucracy likes to work on the borrowed strength of its political masters and not on the foundation of sound judgement dictated by its own in-depth experience of years of public service. There is no other country that provides the equivalent of IAS and IPS in terms of the high starting point of a career in civil service that a meritorious young person gets — making one the Collector, a virtual ‘king’ of a big territory called the District and the other the SSP, a Commander in Chief of thousands of armed men in uniform and personnel of the civil police there — all in the course of just 5-6 years of service.

Governance, India, Prime Minister
The Prime Minister, in fact, spent the better part of the day with them. Wikimedia Commons

It is ironic that in their journey up the promotion ladder, they become reclusive and desk bound and tend to lose out on their role as a mentor for their juniors. Prime Minister Modi did not forget to remind the probationers that their outreach to the people must not diminish and convey it to the seniors in the administration and the police that the old tradition of an outgoing officer leaving behind instructive ‘notes’ for his successor deserved to be restored. It is difficult to find another example of the chief of the political executive governing a big democracy like India’s, himself giving such explicit apolitical advice to the bureaucracy on how to improve upon its working.

In a subtle mentoring of the young officers done by the Prime Minister himself, he enthused them to believe that they were uniquely placed to improve the ‘ecosystem of governance’ for the nation’s ‘capacity building’. He suggested that in the first years of their posting amongst the people in a district, they should work for ‘one district, one problem, total solution’. This is an extremely thoughtful way of getting the most productive results out of the initial years of the civil services officers when they were still fired with passion for work and relatively unspoilt by extraneous influences.

In fact, there is a case for India ‘going back to the districts’ for governance as the collector and SSP between themselves can monitor both development and security in their district segment. This tradition has broken down because their seniors — chief secretary and DGP — do not back them for reasons that are known. The centre must find a way of having a say in the appointment of these two top officials — the Supreme Court has already facilitated this process in respect of the DGP which should be replicated for the appointment of the chief secretary as well. The crucial point is about UPSC drawing up a panel in consultation with the state government for the purpose — an idea supported by the apex court implicitly on the ground that the centre had a responsibility for tracking the performance of IAS and IPS officers whom it recruits and trains before it allocates them to the states.

Prime Minister Modi’s address at Kevadia touched on a basic principle of governance — it should provide stability without becoming suppressive. In the name of sending out a message that India had a ‘strong’ government, the bureaucracy including the enforcement agencies are beginning to exercise their power in a manner that impacted adversely the average law abiding citizen — not primarily the big offenders. The two major coercive instruments of a democratic state — police and tax collectors — need to be on a responsible course to avoid creating the impression that they were out to ‘rule’ the people and not serve them.

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In Delhi, the traffic police is busy sending over speeding notices without specifying the excess speed recorded in each case while no effort is made to detect ‘lane surfing’ — a dangerous form of driving — that would require hard work on the part of the policemen. On the tax front, a long retired senior official, an octogenarian, who had received appreciation letters for tax payments was hauled up for some omission in the IT return that he had filed 11 years ago. The old man had to endure a long correspondence to establish that it is the computerised IT system that had failed to record certain entries.

Apparently an army of junior functionaries deployed for making a ‘total scan’ is exercising no discretion about concentrating on high income businessmen and professionals rather than on government servants. In the Modi regime, the responsibility of supervising senior officers has to be pushed up in the interest of governance. Just as Home Minister Amit Shah is directly overseeing the functioning of the internal security machinery, other ministers must take charge of the performance of their bureaucrats in terms of their public service orientation and pro-people decision making. (IANS)