One of the main reasons of Mahatma Gandhi’s success while leading the freedom movement was that he could involve people on a very large scale in the movement for independence. Similarly for any Government to be successful, public participation in policy formation as well as execution is a must. Unless people partner the Government in its initiatives, many a goals remain on paper and may not yield desirable results. Perhaps one of the lesser known reasons behind the success of Narendra Modi has been his ability to make development a mass movement by empowering people & harnessing their potential for the success of government’s efforts.
When you make people part of the policy formulation and also make partner in execution, the people assumes the ownership of the project and hence will leave no stone unturned to make the programme successful. Narendra Modi has always remained committed to make policy initiatives or project executions a “Jan Andolan” (Peoples’ movement) with total Jan Bhagidari (Peoples’ participation).
While certain initiatives like Vanche Gujarat, Beti bachao, Vave Gujarat, Samaydan though initiated and supported by Government, were more or less designed, successfully executed and even to major extent funded by people themselves at local level.
Narendra Modi’s style of functioning and public-oriented governance is based on reviving people’s lost pride and diverting the emerging latent energy on that account towards development and human endeavours.
As a part of empowering people and pro active and pro people governance, in Gujarat, the administration goes to people, may it be for enrollment of girl students, distribution of tools and kits to skilled workers or for total health checkup of children in schools.
In Vanche Gujarat (Read Gujarat) which has been one of its first kind of project in India and perhaps globally to inculcate reading habits amongst people and particularly children met phenomenal success largely because of large scale Jan Bhagidari. For the first time in state history the executive responsibility was assigned to non government officers i.e. citizens. Not only that at district and taluka level it was totally funded by people through these committees. While this unique and innovative movement in itself needs a dedicated research, it is because of this mass movement it could inspire 25 lakh children to read 10 million books in a span of 8 months and a record was created by 6 million people by reading collectively together for one hour in public places .
Samydaan was also an initiative where during celebration of 50 years of Gujarat’s inception people took vows to donate time for public service of their choice and by its implementation huge human resources were invested in various projects One Swarnim Sankalp by each Gujarati in the service of Gujarat / India which he asked from people during celebration of fifty years was another contribution by people in the march towards peace, progress and development.
This is the reason, why he tells journalists during various interviews, that if each person march one step forward the nation would march 125 crores steps forward. This is neither a myth nor a belief, but a fact which has emerged from the proactive and pro-people governance of Gujarat during last 14 years.
Beti Bachao Abhiyan (Save the Girl Child) has been another wonder. By igniting and sensitizing & touching the hearts of the people, he inspired a large number of social organizations and NGOs to take up this mammoth task. The motivation has been so powerful that it has till date remained a flagship programme of some very powerful social organizations. Much of the reason for the rising sex ratio at birth is the outcome of this mass movement. It is needless to say that though there may be acts and rules but social reforms can only be brought about by Jan Jagruti and Jan Andolan.
Under the Vave Gujarat thought world record has been created by planting more than a million trees in Ahmedabad in a single day, that too by people on their own with logistical support by government.
The rehabilitation of earthquake damaged Gujarat and Kutch in particular is subject research in many spheres and dimensions. The way Kutch has been revived and is marching ahead is a story which unfortunately has not been adequately covered. But it is a glorious tale of people’s participation and public partnership, may it be housing, health, education, adoption of orphan children or even physical infrastructure. It is needless to state that it was the vision and courage of pro active Chief Minister who not only designed pro active and pro people policies but also decentralized power to administrative machinery in partnership with public and people at large.
An unprecedented experiment in India’s history was celebration of national festivals like 15th August & 26 January and at a different district every year. The celebrations of national festivals which had become Government programmes without any public participation and had remained mere routine formalities were transformed into a people’s movement for patriotism resulting into devotion and commitment to nation. It not only rekindled the government machinery but also brought about oceans of enthusiasm in people who saw government working at their doorstep, bringing out everybody’s involvement and which gave opportunities to children, artists and cultural organization at local level for exhibiting talent and thereby nourishing the talent. This also created pride among people, bringing in oneness and ushering in development in far-flung areas.
Thus by unearthing peoples’ power, the tremendous strength of Jan Shakti has resulted into Shri Narendra Modi’s vision of bringing peace, prosperity and growth in Gujarat. The development model evolved in Gujarat in the last decade has been a cynosure of many eyes. It is not being seen as a model just for other Indian states but also for the entire developing world. He has made people partners in the process, rather than mere recipients at the end.
I believe government has no business to do business. The focus should be on Minimum Government but Maximum Governance.
- Narendra Modi
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.
Narendra Modi’s has translated his beliefs into reality with Gujarat ranking as the number one state in economic freedom in India. The economic freedom index shows that Gujarat under Narendra Modi, has a small-size state machinery, and is very efficient in protecting human life and property vis-a-vis the quality of the justice mechanism measured by the availability of judges, the completion rate of cases by courts. The investigation quality by the police is also impressive.
In addition, the labour scenario in the state has been found to be superior under him. Thus Narendra Modi had demonstrated that a good justice delivery mechanism and an entrepreneur-friendly environment is possible, even with a small and less intrusive government.
Another aspect of Narendra Modi’s approach governance has been his adherence to Gandhiji’s principle of Swaraj. Mahatma Gandhi was a believer in the importance of self-government and believed every village must be empowered to deal with local issues. Narendra Modi took concrete steps towards fulfilling Bapu’s dream by making local self-governments more effective. He made decentralization a basic pillar of his governance model and ensured adequate powers were given to people.
Gujarat was a state where 20% of the area had 71% of the water resources and the remaining 80% areas had merely 29% of water resources. Management of water resources has been one of the biggest challenges for the State Government. Through his political acumen, Narendra Modi turned this crisis into an opportunity. He created a ‘Special Purpose Vehicle’ called WASMO (Water and Sanitation Management Organization) in 2002 to empower the rural communities to manage their water situation.
Village level Pani Samitis (Water Councils) empowered rural communities. Thesewere groups of 10-12 members from a village who were trained by Government through capacity building programmes and allowed to decide how the water resources available in their areas should be used. The members of the Samitis were directed to contribute ten percent of the capital costs in order to feel a sense of ownership and responsibility towards welfare of the village.
Pani Samitis have particularly institutionalized the involvement of women leading to a positive impact in terms of sanitation, health, checking water-borne diseases and reduction in drudgery. The number of PaniSamitisin Gujarat rocketed from 82 to 18,076 between 2002 and 2012.
Another significant initiative by Narendra Modi has been the efficient decentralisation of Administration in the form of ATVT (Apno Taluko Vibrant Taluko). It was launched to empower people locally to guide the growth process through a sub district citizen-centric approach where governance and development is activated at the grass root level.
Narendra Modi wanted that instead of the State consisting of 26 pillars (the 26 districts), it should consist of 225 pillars(the 225 Talukas). Under the ATVT, every Taluka in Gujarat is empowered to provide a local platform for double digit growth and social development. The decentralization of administration upto the sub-district (taluka) level has made growth speedier, more effective and transparent as well as citizen centric. Every taluka now makes plans according to its requirements and challenges, and accordingly carries out focused implementation of development schemes for higher benefits.
Red tape and harassment by the middle man, which was a major hurdle for people in small towns and villages, is curtailed. People, especially farmers had to travel long distances, but can now avail easy access to services through the ATVT. This approach is innovative, proactive and in tune with needs of the region and has defined the socio-economic life of villagers.
Another fascinating innovation by Narendra Modi is the adoption of the concept of a “Samras Gram”. Sometimes, panchayat elections can be acrimonious and the ensuing bitterness can lead to impediments in development works. In order to prevent such obstacles, he identified the need to build consensus around development. Under this initiative, villages, which select a Sarpanch by consensus, receive monetary rewards and encouragement.
Samras Gram too has proved to be a boon for Rural Development as a unanimously selected panchayat enjoys the confidence of an entire village and is more reliable and functions with greater enthusiasm. When a local body is elected with such a consensus, the level of responsibility towards delivering good governance receives an impetus.
These are just a few examples of how Narendra Modi had cut down on avenues for government interference while truly empowering people and making them partners in the development journey.
“The need of the hour is a bureaucratic shift! Governments boast of giving people the new rights but the Constitution of India has already provided us with many rights. What we need are not more new Acts – we need action”
Narendra Modi is well known to be a man of action. He has repeatedly emphasized that decisive action is the need of the hour in our Country to ensure Good Governance. We have seen how over the past decade the Central Government has been merely content with just passing new Acts while being little concerned with whether these Acts had translated into concrete action on the ground. Legislation is often a lengthy process and by the time a new Act is passed, the ground situation would have most likely changed significantly rendering it ineffective.
But unfortunately the focus of the UPA Government has been on legislating new Acts with scant regard to the ground level realities of India.
Narendra Modi has demonstrated out of the box thinking on various occasions on how tangible benefits may be delivered to the people by taking decisive action.
When Narendra Modi took over as the Chief Minister of Gujarat, he observed that the school dropout rate was very high in Gujarat. He also felt the need to encourage and motivate students and parents with regard to the importance of education. A need was also felt to do a qualitative assessment of the large number of Government run schools. In such a scenario he came out with a multi-pronged effort, which transformed the education sector in Gujarat.
He came up with a novel idea of starting ‘Shala Praveshotsavs’ where all Government functionaries would go to the villages before schools re-open to boost and sustain student enrollment. Inspite of the scorching heat, all Government functionaries visited the remotest of villages and participated in Shala Praveshotsavs to make sure children start school in a festive mood. After analyzing the reasons for high female dropout rates in schools, it was discovered that the lack of toilets for girls was the main cause. Toilets for the girl child were built in schools all over Gujarat.
Narendra Modi also took the very novel step of introducing Quality Assessment in schools. It has been a norm in our country to analyze schools only through the prism of infrastructure i.e. size of classrooms, toilets and drinking water facilities. Narendra Modi went a step ahead and developed a school quality assessment programme called Gunotsav in Gujarat. Such an assessment had been done previously only in business schools in our country!
Narendra Modi, with his out of the box thinking also proved to be a change agent in the field of agriculture. While over 55% of our country’s population is involved in agriculture, growth in this field remains around 3% for the last decade. On the other hand Gujarat, which has never been an agricultural state, has seen a growth of around 11% in the field of agriculture in the last decade. Despite large arid areas and depleting water levels, Gujarat achieved a significant turn-around in agriculture. Again it was Narendra Modi’s innovative steps, which brought about the change.
One of the most important interventions in this regard has been the Agriculture Extension service in the form of ‘Krishi Mahotsavs’. With these Mahotsavs, the Government made sure scientific training and guidance was imparted to farmers in each district of the state. They were encouraged to use drip irrigation and other innovative methods. They were also given scientific advice on the use of fertilizers and pesticides. While the citizens of this country still do not have a universal health card, Narendra Modi made sure farmers got their soil samples tested and rated on Soil Health Cards, so that they could understand the characteristics of their soil. Even their cattle’s health problems were diagnosed and treated. He also made sure irrigation facilities increased rapidly and constructed a large number of check dams and similar structures.
Narendra Modi’s actions in the Energy Sector have revolutionized it and made sure citizens get uninterrupted 24-hour power supply, which is a distant dream in many other parts of the country. When he took over as Chief Minister, the Gujarat Electricity Board was running huge losses and people had to face a lot of power cuts. It is to Narendra Modi’s credit that he had the vision to think differently.In India, whenever a PSU is doing badly, either it is bailed out on tax-payers money, or is privatized. Narendra Modi chose a third option i.e. to professionalize the PSU. He divided the PSU into multiple units and special attention was given to cut down T&D losses. Electricity theft was punished severely and meters were installed in all rural areas. Today, not only is the company making a handsome profit, but people in the state have not seen a power cut for years.
Similarly it was observed that farmers in the state were getting power intermittently as in the case with rest of the country. Narendra Modi’s government came up with the Jyotigram Project, which bifurcated the feeders for agriculture and domestic use. As a result farmers get 24-hour electricity in their homes and a regulated 8-hour supply for their farms. The Centre even recommended this scheme to the other states.
These examples show how existing systems and processes can be improved and innovated upon to benefit the people of this country without the need for legislating laws. All one has to have is the will power and conviction to change things on the ground. Actions speak louder than Acts!