New Delhi: Stop being regulators, become enablers. And start thinking out of the box. These were the key messages Prime Minister Narendra Modi drove home to civil servants on Friday.
Speaking at a function to mark Civil Services Day, Modi urged bureaucrats to break out of silos and work together as a team to perform and transform.
“Political will can reform but bureaucracy performs and public participation transforms. We have to bring them in one wavelength,” he said. “To reform, political will is needed. I do not lack it and may be having a bit extra,” he added.
Modi’s comments are significant, given that the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government is pushing through critical reforms including the landmark goods and services tax (GST), which is expected to roll out on 1 July.
The prime minister said while the role of the government had increased, things had changed in the last 15 years. “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,” he said.
Modi advised senior civil servants to ensure that experience does not become a burden that stifles innovation. He conceded that hierarchial barriers in bureaucracy remain an issue; it has been inherited from colonial rulers and “was not left behind in Mussoorie” (where the Lal Bahadur Shastri National Academy of Administration is located).
He said bureaucrats should not worry about the consequences of quick decision-making. “If a decision is taken with honest intention, truthfulness and for the welfare of public, then there is nobody in the world who can raise fingers at you. Something momentary may happen but I am with you,” Modi added, to applause from the bureaucrats.
His assertion comes against the backdrop of bureaucratic circles referring to the three Cs—the Comptroller and Auditor General, the Central Bureau of Investigation and the Central Vigilance Commission—as stumbling blocks in decision-making, ultimately resulting in policy paralysis.
He asked civil servants to weigh their decisions from an outcome point of view and not output. “Aankado se badlav aata hai kya (Do we get any change through numbers)? We need to weigh decisions from an outcome point of view.”
On a “quantum jump” in applications for Civil Service Day awards, he said the priority should now be on improving quality and making excellence a habit.
Stressing the use of social media, Modi said it should be leveraged for connecting people to benefits and government schemes.
PTI contributed to this story.