On the evening of Monday 14th October 2013 Shri Narendra Modi addressed the Global Meet of the Emerging Markets Forum through video conferencing. The topic of Shri Modi’s speech was ‘Effective Governance in Democracy: The Gujarat Experience.’ Shri Modi talked elaborately about the importance of good governance and said that governance must be system based and policy driven and that is when things like subjectivity and corruption would be reduced. He declared that good governance starts with good intentions.
Shri Modi affirmed that a democracy is the best possible system in the world today. Adding to that he said, “Democracy has made lives of the people in a number of countries much better. It is a self-correcting system. There are internal controls in it. A democracy has the process and possibility to raise people’s voices. It is an organic system in the true sense.” Shri Modi avowed that for vast countries like India there cannot be a better model of governance than democracy. Shri Modi also cautioned against a possible disconnect between the people and the government after the elections are over. He also said there should not be any doubts on a democracy for it has a solid foundation and flexible framework.
Narendra Modi ji stated that for a government the biggest agenda is the good of the people because the governments are the guardians of the people’s interests. He added that humility is very important and that governments must accept the collective wisdom of the people.
He noted, “People are ready to listen for the sake of development. People are ready for bitter pills only that they want an assurance that what is happening is for their greater good. People need to have faith.” Shri Modi recalled his own experience when he took over as the CM when he told the farmers to look at water conservation over the then prevailing energy crisis. The result was that a large number of irrigation structures were made, the government and people worked together and a lot was done in the field of irrigation. “Per drop more crop is our Mantra…our underground water table has risen, expenses of farmers have reduced and farmers diversified their crops as well. Our annual average growth rate in agriculture is over 10%. That too when we were never a state known for agriculture,” affirmed Shri Modi.
Modi ji gave five areas where democracy must be taken ahead.
First is enhancing the level of harmony. Here Shri Modi gave the examples of Sampras Grams and shared how even women have got unanimously elected to lead the villages.
Second comes enhancing the level of participation. Shri Modi called for moving beyond representation to participation and added that the Gujarat Government has initiated several programmes for people participation especially in social sectors like health and education.
Third is enhancing the level of information. In this regard Shri Modi opined, “This is the age of information. Governments cannot run from secret files, that time is gone. Democracy must be policy driven and the common man and woman must know what is happening.”
The fourth sphere is enhancing levels of institutionalization. Modi ji said that ideas live longer when they are institutionalized and talked about decentralization. Shri Modi further said that a lot can be learnt from Mahatma Gandhi in this regard.
Fifth comes enhancing our capacity to listen. Shri Modi correctly pointed that in a democracy listening to the people is a must. He even gave the example of Gujarat’s award winning public grievance initiative SWAGAT.
Narendra Modi ji opined that there will always remain a competition between what is urgent and what is important and when we tackle only urgencies, the real and long term issues are sidetracked. Shri Modi said that the people can discriminate between good and bad and in case of Gujarat this has been seen in the past four elections. He noted that the people supported the government even during times of natural calamities and after all of them Gujarat emerged stronger. Shri Modi called for a framework to institutionalize innovation and technology adoption.
Referring to the name of the body that organised the programme (Emerging Markets Forum) Shri Modi stated, “It is a mistake to consider these emerging countries only as markets. Are they simply markets? Can we change our terminology? They are emerging growth centres!” adding that these nations are blessed with immense potential for human resources and in terms of being cost effective.
Shri Modi pointed that the Mantra of the Gujarat government has always been Gujarat’s growth for India’s growth. At the same time he noted that things have changed in other states too. On a question received on Gujarat doing better than other states in preventing corruption Shri Modi said, “People are the best judge and this is the reason they are giving us a chance one after another.”