“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!