Describing political intervention as a necessary element in a democracy for addressing public issues, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday advised civil servants against viewing it as a hindrance to their functioning.
At the Civil Services Day function, Mr. Modi’s observation about bureaucrats listening to him with all seriousness drew a hearty laugh when he said: “I have never been to Mussoorie [Lal Bahadur Shastri Academy of Administration where All-India Service recruits undergo training], but do you remain serious like this there as well? … Why have you all been sitting like this, I am not going to ask you for any new work.”
Stating that a bureaucrat’s life should not remain confined to files, the Prime Minister said though they were good at time management, they needed to spend quality time with their families. “A stressful life … I do not think under these circumstances anyone can do justice to any cause … How would you run such a large country, if you become dull,” he said adding he needed colleagues filled with energy.
Mr. Modi drew a distinction between political interference and intervention, stating that the first one ruined the system but the other was necessary and inevitable in a democracy, for public interest-driven decision-making. “Political intervention and democracy go hand in hand in a democracy,” he said.
Call for reforms
He exhorted bureaucrats to reform the system from within, with a goal to bring in more accountability, responsibility and transparency.
Mr. Modi said civil servants should have a positive outlook and strive towards perfection, converting adversities into opportunities. Recalling Vallabhbhai Patel’s contribution to national integration, he said social and economic integration was among the civil services’ objective.
National unity today meant an end to the digital divide, urban-rural divide, and all forms of socio-economic inequities, he said.
The Prime Minister asked senior bureaucrats to visit educational institutions and spend time motivating the youth of the country to join the civil services.
Referring to a Goldman Sachs report that India would take a decade to reach the Asian average on government effectiveness, Mr. Modi sought to drive home the urgency of carrying out administrative reforms. He urged the bureaucrats to work as a team to take on the challenges ahead, develop a large reservoir of institutional memory bank and at the same time, help raise the next generation of talented civil servants.
The Prime Minister conferred the “Awards for Excellence in Public Administration” for 2012-13 and 2013-14 for outstanding initiatives in public administration.