Narendra Modi rode to power in 2014 with the promise of “minimum government, maximum governance" among other things. While experts often point out that not much progress on that front during his first five years, hopes are high that during his second term, Modi will reform the bureaucracy by pruning myriad administrative departments.
“For decades, we have had extraordinarily large governments while ironically the quality of governance has been quite poor. There has been more attention paid to the size of the government and not so much to its quality. Thus, Narendra Modi’s model of a small yet efficient government stands out. Narendra Modi believes that the role of a Government in businesses should be limited to that of a facilitator," reads a statement published on Narendra Modi’s website on 14 May, 2014.
There is wide speculation that Modi will merge departments such as department of public enterprises, department of land resources with other relevant ministries. He may also go all out by creating umbrella energy and infrastructure ministries merging a number of ministries together for better synergy.
Charting out the vision for the next decade, Piyush Goyal in his interim budget speech in February said: “Our Vision can be delivered by Team India - our employees working together with the elected Government, transforming India into a Minimum Government Maximum Governance nation. This is the Tenth Dimension. Our India of 2030 will have a proactive and responsible bureaucracy which will be viewed as friendly to people."
However, political expediency may come in the way of pruning the number of ministries with pressure to accommodate many members of Parliament from BJP and its NDA allies. The Modi government may also be forced to fill up a large number of government vacancies, thus further bloating the bureaucracy. Congress party in its manifesto had promised it will fill up all 4 lakh central government and institutional vacancies before March 2020. “As a condition for devolution of funds to the healthcare and education sectors and to Panchayats and Municipalities, Congress will request State Governments to fill all vacancies, estimated at 20 lakh, in the 2 sectors and in local bodies," it said in its manifesto.
When asked about the promise of “Minimum Government, Maximum Governance", Modi recently clarified his position to the Indian Express newspaper in an interview: “Char-dhams are said to be sufficient for moksha, but files can’t redeem themselves even after passing through 32 places in government. I had to change this. You will be surprised to know that files reach me after just four to six stops in between. Cabinet notes used to take six months earlier. It takes 15 days now. Minutes of the meeting would be sent to me six months later for my signature. What nonsense! Now it is a rule that minutes should be approved within 15 days of the meeting. This is governance. This saves time and effort."