Addressing the civil servants on the Civil Service Day here on Tuesday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi highlighted the motto of their training institute in Mussoorie 'Sheelam Param Bhushanam' ('character is the highest virtue') and stressed that he wanted an energetic team for governing the country.
"E-governance, easy governance and mobile governance are three crucial aspects of governance that the country requires and every civil officers of the country is an in integral part of India," Modi said in his speech which was full of anecdotes and light-hearted reminders taken from his own experiences. "Good governance is not possible without ART, where A stands for Accountability, R stands for Responsibility and T stands for Transparency," he said.
Citing a Goldman Sachs report, Modi said that the governance levels of India is lower than the average of even other Asian countries. He said that according to the report, it'll take India another 10 years to match to the average governance standards of Asian countries, which is not a good thing. "Civil reforms can enhance per-capita growth by one percent and that is an substantial amount," he added.
Regretting the lack of manpower in states, he stressed on the importance of capacity building in civil services. There is a need for learning new technologies. "Urban bodies suffer acutely due to lack of man power. Even if we do shift from scarcity to plenty (in terms of funding), lack of manpower will not allow proper utilisation of the funds." Because of this, consultancies and NGOs have to be delegated major urban works, he added.
He also asked every officer to try and interact with the students in order to inspire the coming generations. "The Civil Services Day should be extended to two days and one day should be kept aside for such interactions. The youth should get to know about the commendable work that the the civil servants do. You work for 12 months, the country won't stop if you keep aside two days for such an event."
Referring to the sensitive topic of bureaucratic temperament and political interference, he said that both are deeply inter-linked and the system can not do without political intervention, as it is the voice of the public. But he also accepted that political interference can destroy the system. "Arey bureacratic delay hai, file jaldi nai paas hogi (it is difficult to get files passed in a bureaucratic set up) is something we keep hearing. Bureaucracy and politicians are a part of the same system, but we need to find a way to work smoothly in harmony.
Honouring the retired civil servants, he urged that all the civil service cadres should make it a point to respect the retired officers regularly. "Once every five years, the retired officials should come together and interact. Always remember, no one retires alone. Whenever a bureaucrat retires, they take with them an entire institution and we should keep learning from their experience as institutional memory is very important."
Recollecting how earlier bureaucrats would leave notes for their successor, he joked that now a days they just hand over their position simply by offering their chairs. "We are forgetting these traditions that made up the bureaucracy what it is today, which should be remembered. Also internal strengthening of the departments has become an urgent necessity.