Political intervention in bureaucracy is necessary: PM Modi

NEW DELHI: Batting for "political intervention" rather than "political interference" to ensure smooth functioning of bureaucracy, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday said the political leadership and civil servants needed to work as a team towards good governance.

In an hour-long pep-talk to the country's senior bureaucrats on the occasion of Civil Services Day, Modi asked them to make a difference by "utilizing the opportunity they have as civil servants, to serve the people". Stating that their endeavors would be backed by the government, the prime minister exhorted the officers to redefine the term "bureaucratic", which has come to be identified with delays and roadblocks.

"Adapt yourselves to the fast-changing environment and technology, prepare for new challenges like how to use additional resources likely to be generated as the economy bounces back and learn to take the three extra steps that can turn a failure into success," he advised the bureaucrats who were in full attendance at the Civil Services Day function at Vigyan Bhavan here.

Even as he acknowledged that political interference and bureaucratic delays were impairing governance, Modi maintained that "political intervention" was needed in a democracy as legislators were representatives of the people. Advising the bureaucrats not to view this as a hindrance, he stated: "In a democracy, bureaucracy and political intervention go hand in hand...political intervention is necessary and inevitable, otherwise democracy will not work".

Modi ensured that he touched a personal chord not only with his officers but also their families. "How often is it that you go home in the evening completely unburdened by your work and without any stress? Do you spend quality time your family?" he asked, while joking that he may not be best person to ask them that.

"Don't work like a robot...it impacts governance. Take time out for yourself and your family," he told the babus, drawing cheers not only from them but also their family members.

Congratulating the recipients of the PM's awards for excellence in public administration for 2012-13 and 2013-14, Modi did not forget to point out that the officers were honoured not for "corporate or economic achievements" but for "initiatives in the social sector". Modi's comment is seen as a riposte to Congress vice-president charge in Parliament on Monday that the Modi government was working only for the interests of corporates.

Emphasising on accountability and responsibility, Modi told the bureaucrats that every problem has a solution which they needed to find. "Accountability, Responsibility and Transparency; this ART is essential for good governance," he said.

Recalling a Goldman Sachs report that said it would take India a decade to reach the Asian average on government effectiveness, the prime minister said there was a need to give impetus to reforms and technology "as the day is not far when the world will look at mobile governance".

Modi asked the award-winning projects to be taken up as case studies and adopted as best practices. He also suggested that a senior officer hold an interaction in a college once a year, in a bid to inspire the best talent to join civil services. Apart from asking serving bureaucrats to remain connected with the people, Modi suggested that retired bureaucrats above 75 years of age be honoured on the occasion of Civil Services Day.