Shri Rajeev Maharishi, both the Deputy CAGs, and all the friends from all over the country!
I have got the opportunity to attend this conclave once again. I do not get a chance to interact much but one gets some experience over the period. And it is great to have this programme organized in the year of Gandhiji's 150th birth anniversary. And Gandhiji used to say that just as a person cannot see his back, similarly it is very difficult for a person to see his errors.
But you are the ones who stand in front of government systems holding a mirror and tell them that these are the shortcomings, or the mistakes, or that the process is not right, and you audit the people who keep the accounts. But I am glad that in the presentation demonstrated by Maharishi ji, you showed your own accounts; and it is a good initiative.
In the Conclave that had taken place three years ago, I had the opportunity to discuss many things in detail with all of you. And I noticed that you took note of those things and implemented many points discussed at that time. Your process of implementation is still going on. And I remember that I had said at that time that the CAG needed to work inclusively rather than thinking in a fragmented way. This organization cannot be limited to just statistics and procedures, but really has to come forward as a catalyst of good governance. You are seriously following the suggestion of turning CAG into CAG Plus, and I am delighted. And the country has received various pleasant results too. This helps in creating an environment of accountability and probity in the country. The CAG plays a major role in developing an outcome-based time-bound method of work in the country. All of this has been possible, because of you and your colleagues. There are those who have to go and work in the field, do audit. If there is a mining work going on, they have to go there and monitor. And after going to the states, they are in the field with the AG Office for months together, sitting there, and scrutinizing each and every paper. And sometimes they have to stay away from their families for a long time. So only after that, the whole process gets completed. And due to such dedicated friends, the credibility of CAG has been strengthened further.
It is a big challenge in itself to bring a major change in this system which has been there for decades. Perhaps CAG is one of the oldest government institutes. It was formed in 1860, if I am not wrong. And that too after 1857! So, it has a history. If you go deep into it, you will get a lot of information. Nowadays, reform is considered a very fancy word. Everyone says I too bring reform. Do anything, and it is termed as a reform. But the real reform comes when the entire rank and file in an organization is prepared and motivated for it with complete honesty and sincerity. And this applies to every government, every institution and every organization in the country which also includes CAG. The responsibility of the CAG is even greater because you play an important role in keeping the economic conduct of the country and society sacred. And so we have high hopes from you.
Chanakya, the inspiration of policy, economics and auditing, used to say - ज्ञाणं भारं: क्रियां विना - That is, if you have the knowledge but do not put it in the right place or in the right direction, then it becomes a burden and becomes meaningless. And so you have dual responsibility in a way. On one hand, if you want to disseminate your knowledge and experience, then you should also keep your ethics strong. Chanakya had given greatest importance to ethics. And that's why I believe that in today's digital world, in this era of changing technology, the role of Audit and Accounts and changes in it have become very important.
All of you have been watching the efforts made by the government for bringing transparency through technology over the last five years. The account of the government has been open and transparent; it has rather been like a dashboard. Everything is in front of everyone; everything is crystal clear. The government has put in place a transparent process from tender to procurement. Now most of the tenders are online; monitoring and surveillance of infrastructure related projects is also done in a scientific manner. Through JAM i.e. Jan-Dhan-Aadhaar Mobile, the benefits of government schemes are reaching the common man directly. And the government directly makes its procurements through GEM i.e. Government e-Market place. Today, the benefit of more than 425 government schemes is reaching the beneficiaries directly due to which about 1.5 lakh crore rupees have been prevented from getting in wrong hands. In fact, you have played a commendable role in making a challenging and a complex reform like GST, a part of the business culture of the country.
Today India is one of the world's leading digitized economies. And digital infrastructure is being built rapidly here. The digital system has not only strengthened the interface, harmony, and trust between the citizens and the government, but also has a positive impact on government processes. The methods of maintaining our records are also changing. And I will give you an example - earlier the challans of the payments made to the government had to be kept separately by the citizens, government offices, treasury. But now there is no need for a physical copy, rather it is stored in an app in a paperless way. This has facilitated the public. There has been a major change in the audit process of CAG.
Today as India is moving towards becoming a 5 trillion dollar economic power, you all have a major role to play. Because what you do will directly affect the efficiency of the government; the decision making and policy making of the government. Whatever you do will directly affect the efficiency of business institutions; whatever you do will directly affect the investments in India and ease of doing business. All the stake holders today need an accurate audit so that they can execute their plans correctly. At the same time, they do not want the process of Audit to take a lot of time. This is where your challenge begins. Two tasks are very important to overcome this challenge. One is related to skill and training and the other is related to tools. We have to equip the new friends who are joining this profession with updated technology, and it is equally important to upgrade their skills. Now as there are auditing institutions all over the world, they are moving towards crowd-based solution. Similarly, we have to make the best global practices related to technology, a part of our system. We also have to work on India-specific tools.
We aim to make Evidence Based Policy-Making an integral part of governance by 2022. It will also help in creating a new identity for New India. In such a situation, this is also the right time for the transformation of Audit and Accounts Sector. Now CAG will also have to move towards CAG 2.0. I am told that you are also moving rapidly in this direction. We will be able to accomplish it fast only when we are able to bridge some gaps, and links fast. Right now the data that is being generated here is very large and it is stored with the various agencies and departments. The data is also collected by these agencies and departments for their use. But it is also true that often this data is not shared with each other. This huge data is not linked. Hence, in natural course there is an accountability gap. We have to bridge it. Some efforts are being made at the government level also and steps are being taken for the same. And I am sure that all of you will also discuss this subject amongst yourselves and will also share it with the other agencies and departments. And I remember, last time when I was amidst you, I had given an example of road construction in the same district. I had told that how there was a difference in the cost of the road construction of the same length in the same district by two different departments. Now both seemed fine in different audits, but if you look at the overall picture, they are not at all okay. There are many such examples in government departments where big data analytics can be improved. And I understand that when you analyze a large data base for your audit, your information can be very useful in Evidence-Based Policy-Making. If the CAG can give advice and some institutional solution on the basis of information related to this data, then I believe this will be a great service to the country. And I would request you to think not only from the perspective of audit but also from the perspective of a think tank.
Last time I had also talked about institutional memory. Digital audit and digital governance can also work to strengthen this institutional memory in different institutions. One more thing you can do easily. CAG audits many international institutions and gives technical support to other countries in the audit. You can develop an institutional mechanism in which international audit teams can share their experiences, share the best practices there, and make the CAG audit report more meaningful. For this, can we choose the topic of audit for discussion? We must consider this. You have been doing various types of audit. One of my suggestions will be to look into the process of audit as well. So far, you have been considering only whether the process is followed or not. But is there any scope for improvement in that process itself so that the target is reached? I believe these suggestions will be very helpful. Another complaint from the departments is that the CAG audit happens very quickly, due to which the findings are not of much use. How to strengthen the internal audit process of departments and how to make it in tune with CAG, so that we can save time and increase efficiency? And if the departments conducting routine audit themselves, then they should take care of all these nuances so that when the CAG goes there, the CAG will have less things to do on the readymade material and we can increase efficiency as well as speed.
This challenge is to deal with the technology that the wrongdoers have. Now all the auditors including CAG, whether internal or external, have to find innovative ways to deal with the new challenges. And hence, first we have to encourage the core values of the auditors, only then we will be able to deal with the occupational fraud. In the last few years, there have been several attempts to deal with fraud in government departments. Now CAG will have to develop such technical tools so that there is no scope for fraud in the institutions. And I want to suggest to you one thing that I have used in the past. Can the CAG think over it? I had humbly asked the different departments of the Government of India as to what problems did they face? Was there any issue in finding the solutions to their problems or is there any problem in the delivery system? Initially it is difficult for the departments to accept this. So in the beginning every institution reported - no, we have no problem, everything is fine; there is no problem, everything is going very well. But I didn't give up. I kept on asking again and again and about 400 issues came up from different departments. They felt that if they had a technological solution, it would have been good.
I gave these 400 issues to IT-based students of different universities and conducted hackathons all over the country. Lakhs of youth took part in it. These teams worked non-stop for at least 36 hours. After elimination, when about 10-12 thousand children remained, I discussed it personally with them. And you will be surprised that most of these 400 issues were solved by these 18-20-22 year old children through technology. And I would also like to congratulate the government for already incorporating about 80% of the solutions into their system and implementing them. What are the challenges that CAG faces today? As you have shown in your presentation, it's a highly technical job to audit hospitals. So, how to do it? Now, you are not in that field. If you find a doctor, and he guides you, then you will go in that direction and take a look. So, we have to identify these kinds of things, and find technical solutions to such issues.
So you can give issues like these to the youth for solutions and I can ask the HRD Ministry to coordinate. And there are these types of hackathons that make such tools for CAG to find out such solutions for CAG. If some of your people get a chance to discuss with them, then I think a good mechanism will be developed and this can be done every year. This hackathon will also benefit the younger generation of our country, as they will also get to know about how the oldest, and the most experienced institutions in the governance system of India are working and how many challenges they have to face. I think this can and should be thought of. And such efforts will ease the problems of the common man and his trust in all the institutions of the country will also be strengthened. At the same time there will be harmony between the government mechanism and you.
I am confident that the CAG will meet all the expectations of the country and will strengthen its role in making New India a clean India. By clean India I do not mean sanitation that I often do. 'Clean India' for you is different. And auditing is one thing but is the work of auditing limited just to putting someone in the ‘witness-box’? No, wherever we are, working under whichever umbrella, but ultimately we all work for the country; for the bright future of the country, and for our future generations. And so can our hard work be useful for good governance and efficiency? And this can be done. It is not necessary to find fault in everything. Suppose you take ten departments in the beginning of the year. You can hold a brainstorming session in relation to these ten departments with your people, whoever has the expertise, whoever is going to work at the grass root level; be it working at the district level, state level or at the national level. Suppose by brain storming you take out 100 points, and tell them that you would come for audit after one year. These departments should take care of these 100 points while working. These 100 aspects must be kept in mind while keeping your records.
This means that the audit mind will give a proforma beforehand so that they don't make a mistake. You see, this will make a difference. Efficiency will increase and new things will be revealed in terms of governance, which will become strength of the government itself. And that's why I would like to try something like that. Secondly, you must have seen that we also place the outcome report in the House during budget. This practice was not there before. Because it is very easy to discuss the output, for example, if ten rupees was allotted, ten rupees was spent. But what was the purpose, the reason for the funds given, how was it used, for whom was it used, when was it used, whether it should have been done or not. Everything concerns you. And from there the outcome begins. And so these days, we have developed and institutionalized the system of outcome within the House.
But sometimes the process is good, the product is good, but what is the outcome? When will the outcome be less than desired? This happens when there is theft. This happens mostly due to bad governance. If the governance is correct, then the outcome and efficiency are visible in the natural course of action. And so we can make our idea a part of good governance as well. And so I would say despite your point of view on what the target was and what was the achievement, I would definitely like to see how we can move forward to strengthen our institutions in advance.
I once again have got the opportunity to be present amidst you today. I wish you all the best for doing a great service to the nation. 75 years of independence will be celebrated in 2022. What will be CAG's targets as an institution for the year 2022 when India will complete 75 years of independence? How will we make this institution more friendly and productive? How to become a contributor in good governance? Using this experience, one who has the power to find shortcomings, also has the power to end it and prevent it. Can we make more effective use of such a large institution by connecting with all these aspects? And I believe that it is possible.
You might feel that you are already fed up of watching the files and this Prime Minister is giving you four new tasks; but I believe that this will rather reduce your burden automatically and you will also be satisfied that whatever you have contributed has been institutionalized. And that it has played a major role in changing the mindset and the face of the nation.