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De-Bureaucratisation, Next Surgical Strike - An Open Letter To PM Modi

'Demonetization and the surgical strikes have proven that you will not hesitate to take tough decisions in the interest of the poor and to safeguard the nation'

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Namaste Sir,

Your time is very valuable and hence instead of seeking a personal appointment, I am writing this letter to you.

Peter Huntsman, CEO, Huntsman Corporation, US, said at the recently concluded ‘Vibrant Gujarat’ summit, which was inaugurated by prime minister Narendra Modi, that “Mr. PM, you visited our country in June and there are many of us who wished you would have stayed and taken over leadership of our country”.

This is the first time in history that any head of state would have received such a compliment and it is not easy to come by, and that too, for a developing country! This speaks volumes of how much the world believes in your exemplary leadership and seeks your guidance as a Vishwa Guru! I have always said that you have brought a lot of trust and respect to our country in the short span that you have been at the helm, and I am sure, what we have seen till now, is just 10 per cent of what you can do, and that you will totally transform the country over the next 10 years.

The earlier governments kept singing the slogan of ‘Garibi Hatao’ for decades, but, actually, they neither had the will nor the vision to do so. You have clearly shown that your focus is clear and you have clearly articulated the path to Garibi Hatao by your vision to provide water, electricity, house (with toilet) and access to every Indian by 2022. Moreover, the last budget set the direction for empowered citizens and developed India by focusing on rural development, agriculture and infrastructure. Rather than promising to people, you have decided to work hard and deliver, and this had been missing in the country and because of which, the people have lost confidence in politics and politicians both. You have a big responsibility of not just running the country as our most revered Prime Minister but a bigger goal to bring back the trust in politics and politicians

We have recently seen that you stand for your principles. Demonetization and the surgical strikes have proven that you will not hesitate to take tough decisions in the interest of the poor and to safeguard the nation. A few in the opposition have talked against demonetization. Post demonetization, we are clear about where the money is! Else, the so called world class economists talked about double digit growth and fooled us for years without even knowing how much money was in the system and where! Now other countries are considering to implement demonetization.

While you have initiated some big changes and more are likely to follow post the budget and the assembly elections, it would be pertinent here to state that the biggest drag on Rajiv Gandhi and Dr. Manmohan Singh Government was the same bureaucracy that we have inherited and which failed them, and it will fail this government as well if we don’t get rid of this imperial legacy - bureaucracy. We are beholden to bureaucracy as if, without them, the government cannot function, but the history proves that bureaucracy has ensured a status quo for this nation and worked on the principle of ‘I, me and myself’. Actually, the current bureaucratic set up is a bottleneck for fostering innovation and enterprise.

Let me quote;

“Rajiv wanted to revolutionize the bureaucracy and make things more efficient”. –Mark Tully in an interview

"You have sought a change in the manner in which this country is run and reform of administration to improve the quality of services will be our immediate priority”. Dr. Manmohan Singh, June 2004

Some of these leaders identified the real problem in India for implementing reforms as the failure of the bureaucracy to implement, and which let them down. I have written about the need and the path to transform the bureaucracy.

Also, am submitting the following for your kind consideration;

* ACR system be changed to CPR (Comprehensive Performance Review, wherein, 50 % of the appraisal depends on the individual performance, 25 % on the department’s / Ministry’s performance and 25% on the overall government’s performance).

* All posts, starting with the Joint Secretary, to be on a 5-year contract, based on annual comprehensive performance review, linked to implementation of the budget announcements and yearly plans. No bureaucrat be appointed as Secretary who has less than a year to retire & a bureaucrat at the level of Secretary have a fixed tenure based on yearly comprehensive assessment

* Start the lateral entry and compare the performance of career bureaucrats and professionals inducted in the government

* Sack the non-performing secretaries to send a strong message.

* This reform cannot be left to bureaucrats, as they will never let it happen. Also, if this is not done, it will be the biggest setback to the Modi Administration and will cost dearly.

In the USA, key officials come with the incoming President and are aligned to his vision. Also, the USA, U.K. and New Zealand governments have transformed bureaucracy to make their nations innovative and growth oriented.

Jairam Ramesh was bang on when he said, ‘the responsibility for bringing in reforms and change cannot be outsourced to bureaucrats and technocrats, as reforms, in essence, is a political enterprise”.

In the past, the political leadership could never deliver on getting rid of bureaucracy, despite the identification of the problem and only made statements from time to time to reform the bureaucracy. We are hopeful that, with a leader like Modi at the helm, we can now see this major reform becoming a reality, which will unlock the true potential of every Indian, and if this happens, in 2019, you can plan the mission of 400 plus for Lok Sabha.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.

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Demonetisation narendra modi

Rajendra Pratap Gupta

Rajendra Pratap Gupta is a public policy expert and focuses on governance reforms

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