I am very delighted to inaugurate this new building of Central Information Commission. This has been completed before time because of the concerted efforts of different departments. I congratulate the staff of the different departments involved in the erection of this building. I was told that this building has received the environmental friendly GRIHA-IV rating. This building will not only help in conserving the environment but also saving the energy. I hope that this new building will help in a more efficient functioning of the Commission by better coordination and integration. This will also expedite the hearing of the cases received by the Commission. The speed in this case means that there will be speed in settling the problems faced by the public.
Today I also have the opportunity to launch the Central Information Commission's mobile app. Citizens will be able to file an appeal and a complaint smoothly. In addition, the information provided by the Information Commission will also reach them at the earliest.
I have been told that a number of steps have been taken by the Central Information Commission for citizen service. CIC is using modern techniques to increase the facilities for people and for speedy disposal of complaints.
It is really a matter of satisfaction that highest number of cases was disposed of last year since the commission started functioning. I hope that keeping in mind the grievances and the need to provide facilities to the citizens of the country the Commission will continue to improve its system accordingly.
Transparency and accountability are very essential for democratic and participative governance. Such Institutions work as a catalyst for trust based governance. Such Institutions are very important for increasing the people's trust in the government, making full use of the human resource of the country so that decisions can be taken keeping in mind the expectations and aspirations of the citizens of the country.
I believe that an empowered citizen is the strongest pillar of our country. You have seen that how in the last 4 years the central government has tried to make the people of India empowered and informed through different means. We will find several instances in the history when information was treated as a one-way channel. It had serious consequences. Therefore, our government is working on the principle of modern information Highway instead of following the one-dimensional approach.
This is a highway where arrangements have been made to move information rapidly in both directions.
There are five pillars of today's modern information highway on which we are working together.
These five pillars are -
The first pillar - ‘Ask’ means to have a detailed discussion on government's policies and projects for better governance. Every type of question from the people is given priority. People can connect with the government through MyGov, the world's largest citizen engagement platform.
I will give you the latest example of SRIJAN- Station Rejuvenation Initiative by Joint Action. In this interesting initiative of the Railways, the public is going to guide the government through many questions.
Brothers and sisters,
The second pillar of the information Highway is 'listen'.
Today there is a government in the country that listens to people. The government pays serious attention to the suggestions given on CPGRAMs and the social media. Often, the government has framed policies and made changes based on the suggestions and feedback of the public.
Interaction, the third pillar of the information highway, is as important as the questions and the suggestions. I believe that interaction also establishes an emotional connection between the government and the citizens.
Periodic surveys are also undertaken to increase interaction with the people. Every year we organize the 'Rate my Government' initiative in the month of May. Similarly, the fourth and the most important pillar of the Information Highway is 'Act'.
If there is a lack of action after the question-suggestions-dialogue process, then all the hard work is worthless.
Therefore, we are working in a proactive manner based on the suggestions and questions of the people. Even in case of the GST, changes were made in the rules addressing the complaints of the people. The formation of the National Anti-Profiteering Authority for the benefit of the consumers is to a large extent the result of the dialogue process. Besides, you must have seen how the Ministers and the ministries are settling several complaints just by looking at the tweets. Today several problems of the people are solved just by tweeting.
The fifth pillar of the information highways is 'inform'.
It is the duty of the government to provide the citizens with correct information about their actions. That's why our government has developed a new mechanism for providing real-time, online information. It is for the first time that this government has done the work of updating people on various schemes through dashboard on the websites. For example, the number of toilets constructed under the Swachh Bharat Mission, the progress of Saubhagya scheme, the number of LEDs distributed under UJALA scheme, loans sanctioned under the MUDRA Yojana and several other important details are available online.
Brothers and sisters,
It was observed that different people used to ask similar or same questions. Thus, the cost in terms of time and resources used to be more in responding to different people. Therefore, our government is uploading the information related to the common queries on the web portals of the concerned Ministries.
One of the advantages of this activity is that the citizens will now have online access to information related to processes and statistics related to plans. Moreover, every ministry is sending the necessary information to the people via SMS. Friends,
Today India is striding rapidly towards digitally empowered society. Information Technology is used not only to simplify processes but also to ensure transparency and quality of service. Digital technology is being expanded to make citizen services more convenient.
With the help of Jan Dhan accounts, Aadhaar and Mobile i.e. JAM Trinity, the government is ensuring that the benefits of the government schemes reach the right hands. By transferring money directly to the People's bank accounts, the government has avoided more than Rs.57, 000 crore falling in the wrong hands.
All the work under MGNREGA and the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana is being geo-tagged and monitored through satellite images. The irrigation projects that were stuck for several decades are now being monitored with the help of drones. I also want to mention about the PRAGATI meeting that had taken place last week. Last week we were monitoring the reconstruction process in the Kedar ghati from the PMO with the help of drones. This technology has been probably used for the first time in the Prime Minister's office. The Drone cameras have directly shown all of us the way the new paths and walls were being made in Kedar ghati and the way Baba Bhole's Temple was being repaired.
The meeting of PRAGATI also became a way of giving rights to the people of the country. These rights are not enshrined in law but I believe the people have these rights as well.
It is the right of the people that they see all the schemes and projects of the government getting completed on time.
There were several projects that were stuck for decades but our government has taken the responsibility of completing them. So far plans of about Rs. 9.5 lakh crore have been reviewed in the PRAGATI meeting. With these endeavours, transparency is increasing and has left a great impact on our work culture.
All these things like completion of projects on time and speed in the construction of next generation infrastructure etc. were possible because the system was improved at ground level and transparency was brought in.
Let us take the example of this building. The Central Information Commission was formed almost 12 years ago. Since then the work of the Commission was going on in rented buildings.
After the formation of the NDA government in 2014, all the procedures were expedited, Rs. 60 crores was sanctioned for this building and the work was started immediately.
More importantly, the construction work that was to be completed by the end of this month was completed in November last year by the concerned departments.
I remember that last year I had got the opportunity to inaugurate Dr. Ambedkar International Centre in Delhi. The decision to establish this centre was made in 1992. However, nothing happened for 23 years. After that, this government only has laid the foundation stone and has also inaugurated the building. This change in the administration can be seen from the Parliament to the roads and from the Prime Minister's Office to the Panchayat Bhawan.
You must be aware of the fact that recently one department of the Commerce Ministry was shut down. It was the Directorate General of Supplies and Disposals. There were about 1100 employees in it who have now been shifted to different departments. You must also be aware of the reason for its close down.
The new systems replace the old ones. The creation of Government e-Market for public procurement of goods and services is a result of the same. GeM portal is playing a major role in eliminating corruption in government procurement and making the process transparent.
Now the country's small entrepreneurs and the tribal people living in far-flung areas of the country can also sell their products directly to the government through the GeM portal.
Besides, the government has also tried to bring transparency in the system by simplifying the procedures at different levels.
The interviews for Group C and D Jobs have been done away with. The number of registers has been reduced from 56 to 5 for complying with labour laws. All forms are now filled online on Shram Suvidha Portal.
Efforts are being made to reduce human interface and for digitising that system in every window where government-public interaction takes place.
Citizens are given reliable and meaningful information through Artificial Intelligence and data mining.
It was our government that has abolished more than 1400 unnecessary laws that were in operation for over several decades. You have seen that in the last two-three years the government has formed a transparent system in giving the Padma awards. The people who have spent their lives in far-flung areas of the country and have made several contributions for the welfare of the society have got the opportunity to come forward due to this transparent system.
When the distance between the government and the public is narrowed, new and effective ways of communication are made, the people consider themselves as an integral part of the decision making process and come forward for the task of nation building.
You have personally seen how a small appeal has made the people give-up their LPG subsidies. ‘Give it up’ campaign is a great example of emotional communication between the public and this government.
Similarly under Swachh Bharat Mission, the kind of awareness that has been spread across the country regarding the construction of toilets and their usage has never happened before. The people have associated themselves with the Swachh Bharat Mission from the core of their hearts by breaking all the barriers of age, class and caste. This was done not by using force but by making the people aware. Today we are getting positive results by creating awareness in the areas where the birth of a girl child was considered as a crime.
Two days later the scheme ‘Beti Bachao Beti Padhao’ will complete three years. On this occasion, our government is organizing a direct conversation with the daughters.
As the transparency in the system improves, the flow of information becomes smoother and the confidence of the people in the government also increases. In the last three, three-and-a-half years, our government has worked to increase the confidence of the people by making changes in the system.
Certainly the Central Information Commission has also played an important role in this flow of information.
Today I want to discuss another topic in this forum. There is a need to seriously consider the principle of 'ACT Rightly' just like the RTI Act in our country. This means we should not forget our duties while enjoying our rights. It is important for the citizens to be aware of not only the rights but also their duties.
I believe that people can be informed about ACT Rightly more effectively with the help of institutions like CIC where public interaction is so high.
Often it has been observed that some people start misusing the rights that are available to the common man for their benefits. The system has to take the burden of these wrongdoings.
Forgetting the duties while enjoying the rights is against the spirit of the Constitution. The technology and the new facilities should be used for human welfare. It must be ensured that it should not be misused for someone's selfish desires.
While assessing the current situation and keeping in mind the challenges of the future, every responsible institution will have to work by creating a balance between the rights and the responsibilities.
I conclude my speech with the hope that the Central Information Commission will continue to work for empowering the people through information.
Once again I extend my best wishes to you all.