Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Tuesday wanted government officials to have “zero tolerance of corruption.” They should ensure that development works reached the grass roots through efficient implementation of government programmes.
The officials should learn from non-governmental organisations such as the Ramakrishna Mission which had done yeoman service to the people in underdeveloped areas.
Dr. Singh said: “As administrators, we must have zero tolerance of corruption. We must demolish the invisible wall between ‘us' and ‘them' [people]. The livelihoods we promote must be sustainable on the ground and not on paper alone. They must be suited to the local milieu and attuned to the local aspirations.”
The Prime Minister was speaking at a national workshop on “Appropriate development strategies for effective implementation of schemes of rural development in Integrated Action Plan (IAP) districts” here.
Referring to the Naxal menace, he said a “practical and pragmatic” approach should be made to develop Naxal belts. Monitoring should take care of any wrongdoing in the process of development. He emphasised the need for winning the “trust of the people” in Maoist areas and said the lessons learnt from the grass roots should be the key elements in the 12th Five-Year Plan.
“… the struggle to give a modicum of security to those who are engaged in development process in these difficult [Naxal-hit] areas must go hand in hand with emphasis on development as traditionally understood.”
Lack of development would lead to frustration and a sense of alienation among the inhabitants leading to lack of trust. “The sense of alienation is to be converted into a sense of belonging.”
For alienation to be converted into a sense of belongingness, the government's programmes must ensure that the people in the Naxal areas had an equitable share in the prosperity a rapidly growing Indian economy was bound to bring.
The Prime Minister, who was addressing Collectors and officials of 60 Naxal-affected districts, stressed “inbuilt flexibility” in the implementation of the IAP so that field officers could overcome challenges peculiar to a district.
“Our programmes must be sensitised to include different needs of the people.”
On security threats in the Naxal areas, where even a post office or a bank branch could not be established, Dr. Singh said: “Maybe, we should experiment with the use of police stations — the ground floor can be the police station, the first floor can be the bank and similar activities [can be taken up].”
Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh asked the Home Ministry to provide CRPF security for development works in some of the “hardcore” Maoist-hit areas.