Prime Minister Narendra Modi today urged bureaucrats to change their mindset and style of working and “make excellence a habit” as the days of citizens depending on the government for every need were over. He also stressed on political will for reforms and said – “I do not lack it”. “With changing times, a need may arise that we may have to change our working style. From regulator, we need to be an enabling entity,” PM Modi said, addressing the country’s top officials at a function in Delhi to mark Civil Services Day.
“Earlier, the role of the government, from healthcare to wanting to set up an industry, was very strong. Things have been changing for the past 15 years,” he said.
This, he added, was the time for out-of-the-box thinking and confident decisions. “Your word is of great value. Your signatures can change things. Can we change?”
In a strong dig at red tape, the PM said, “During my PRAGATI sessions (the platform where he reviews government work by interacting with offiicials) I have found files and projects stuck for years are cleared in 24 hours. I learn from this. If this can happen then it has to become a lesson for all.”
He deplored bureaucratic delays and tangles, questioning, “Why are government departments fighting in courts against each other? Why is there one government, two stands? Is it ego? Let is all think. This is clogging the judicial system and causing delays and waste.”
Attacking an old bureaucratic habit of dressing statistics to present achievements, he said, “Does jugglery of statistics achieve anything? The culture needed is outcome-centric vision for governance.”
Officials should take decisions that are in national interest, said the Prime Minister, urging his audience to take “collective ownership” to bring change. “Don’t make decisions which are temporary or offer a temporary fix for your particular area…It is important to make ourselves relevant in changing times or else, we will become obsolete.”
Since coming to power with a huge mandate in 2014, PM Modi has stressed on an efficient workforce and he started with sweeping changes in his own office.
While making a point, he shared why he had banned mobile phone in his meetings. “These days… I see district officials so busy, so busy, so busy,” he said, mimicking furious tapping on a phone keypad.
The PM gave away awards for excellence based on the execution of the government’s priority programmes. Winding up his speech, he asked bureaucrats to go back to their roots and focus on outcome not just output. “Think of the dreams you had when you were on your way to the IAS academy and your parents and dear ones had come to see you off.”