A Civil Servant Needs to Reform, Perform and Transform
Over the years, I have met and spent a long time with many batches of civil servants. But your batch is very special from my point of view. You are starting your career at the time of this Amrit Mahotsav in the 75th year of India’s independence. Not many of us will be there when India enters its 100th year of independence. But you and your batch will be there at that time. In this virtuous period of independence, your story and your team will play an important role in all the developments that the country will essay in the next 25 years.
The eyes of the entire world are on India at this juncture of the 21st century. New world order is emerging following circumstances caused by Corona. In this new world order, India has to enhance its role and develop itself at a fast pace. It is time to move forward many times faster than the pace at which we have progressed in the last 75 years. In the near future, you will be handling some district, or department. Somewhere a huge infrastructure project would be going on under your supervision or somewhere you would be offering your suggestions at the policy level.
Amidst all this, you have to keep one thing in mind and that is the biggest goal of 21st century India and that is the AatmaNirbhar Bharat, a modern India. We don’t have to lose this time and that’s why I have a lot of expectations from you. These expectations are related to your personality as well as your actions and your work culture.
The importance of both the spirit of service and the sense of duty has been an integral part of your training. No matter how many years you are in this service, this factor should be the measure of your personal and professional success. One should constantly ask oneself whether the spirit of service or the sense of duty is not ebbing. You should always evaluate whether you are not losing sight of this goal. Keep this goal paramount always. There should be neither diversion nor dilution in it. We all have seen that a person or a system suffers heavily when the spirit of service abates and the feeling of power dominates. For some, this loss may be early or late, but the loss is bound to happen.
I would like to tell you one more thing which might be useful to you. When we work with a sense of duty and a sense of purpose, no work seems like a burden. You too have come here with a sense of purpose. You have come to be a part of a positive change for society, for the country. There is a vast difference between the two methods of getting work done by giving orders and motivating others with a sense of duty. I think this is a leadership quality that you have to develop. This is essential for team spirit. There is no room for any compromise and it is very important.
A few months from now, you all will hit the ground running. You will have to work by understanding the difference between files and the ground reality. You won’t get the real feel in the files. You have to be connected to the field for the real feel. Remember this for the rest of your life the data contained in the files are not just numbers. Every figure, every number, is a life. That life has some dreams and aspirations and that life has some difficulties and challenges. Therefore, you have to work for every single life, not for numbers. I would like to share my feelings with you. This mantra will give you the courage to make a decision and if you follow it, then you will be less likely to make a mistake.
Wherever you will be posted, you will have the zeal and enthusiasm to try something new. You will have so many ideas in your mind to change things. But I would urge you that whenever such a thought comes to your mind that this is not right and requires change, you will come across many systems and rules and regulations which have been there for years and which you may find irrelevant or you may not like. You will find them to be cumbersome. I don’t say whether all that will be wrong, it could be. When you have power, you would feel like doing things your way. But you must be patient and give it a thought. Would you follow the path that I suggest?
I want to give some advice to you. Try to understand the root cause of why a particular system was developed or a rule was made and under what circumstances and what was the situation then. Visualize each and every word in the file and find out why it was made 20, 50, or 100 years ago. You do a thorough study and find out the logic, thinking or requirement which went into developing that system. Go to the bottom of it and find out the reason which led to the making of that rule. When you study and go to the root cause of a problem, you will be able to find a permanent solution to it. Things done in haste will look fine for the time being but will not lead to a permanent solution. And when you go deep into all these things, you will have complete control over the administration of that area. And after doing so much, remember one more thing when you have to make a decision.
Mahatma Gandhi always used to say that if your decision benefits the person standing in the last queue of society, then you should not hesitate to take that decision. I want to add one more thing to this -whatever decision you make, whatever system you change, you must think in the context of the whole of India because we represent the All India Civil Services. The decision in our mind might be local but the dream should be for the entire country.
We have to take Reform, Perform and Transform to the next level during this ‘Amrit Kaal’ of independence. Therefore, India is moving ahead with the spirit of ‘Sabka Prayas’. In your endeavors, you also have to understand the power of everyone’s effort and their participation. If you try adding as many parts and every employee in your work, then it becomes the first circle. But the bigger circle will be when you add social organizations and the general public. In a way, everybody, including the last person of society, should be a part of your efforts and there should be their ownership. And if you do these things, then you will not imagine the strength that you will gain.
Wherever you are posted in any district, make an analysis of the problems and difficulties of that district. It may come across to you why your predecessors did not try to solve those problems. Can you identify five challenges of the area where you are posted – the challenges which make the life of the people difficult and are a hindrance to their development?
It is very important for you to identify them at the local level. And I will also tell you why this is necessary. When we formed the government, we also identified many such challenges. Once the challenges were identified, we moved towards their solution. Shouldn’t the poor have pucca houses even after so many years of independence? This was a challenge and we took up that challenge. We decided to give them pucca houses and expanded the PM Awas Yojana at a fast pace.
Many such districts in the country were also a big challenge which were decades behind in the race for development. One state is far ahead, but its two districts are far behind. One district is far ahead but its two blocks are far behind. We as a nation prepared a blueprint that such districts should be identified and a campaign of aspirational districts should be started to bring them at par with the average of the state and if possible to the national average.
Similarly, electricity and gas connection to the poor was another challenge. We started the Saubhagya scheme and gave them free gas connections under the Ujjwala scheme. This is happening for the first time in India after independence when any government has talked about and made plans for taking the schemes towards saturation.
In this context, I want to give you an example. Projects used to get stuck for years due to lack of coordination between different departments. We have also seen that a road which was built was dug by the telephone department the next day and dug by the sewage department again later. Therefore, we have prepared the PM GatiShakti National Master Plan to overcome this challenge of lack of coordination. It is being ensured that all government departments, states, local bodies and every stakeholder should have all the information in advance. When you identify the challenge, then finding a solution and working on it becomes easy.
I urge you to identify 5-7-10 such challenges which you feel their solutions will bring joy to the people of your area. Their trust in the government and respect for you will increase. You make up your mind to solve those problems in your area during your tenure.
Your actions should provide peace to the mind and the beneficiaries should acknowledge your efforts. The people of your area should recognize your efforts in solving a very old problem even after you left that place 20 years ago.
Our government is supporting this era of transformation of civil service with reforms. Mission Karmayogi and Aarambh programs are part of it.
(Excerpts from Prime Minister’s address at Valedictory Function of 96th Common Foundation Course at LBSNAA)