TAKE DECISIONS without fear, and don’t use social media for self-promotion — these were the two key messages in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s address to bureaucrats on Friday. “If a decision is taken with honest intention, truthfulness and for the welfare of public, there is nobody in the world who can raise a finger at you. Yes, something may happen momentarily, but I am with you,” said Modi, addressing the gathering of bureaucrats, mostly IAS officers, on the occasion of Civil Services Day.
In the past, some bureaucrats have referred to three Cs — CAG, CBI and CVC — as stumbling blocks in decision-making, responsible for “policy paralysis”.
Defining “anamika” or anonymity as one of the greatest assets of civil servants, Modi said this needs to be maintained. “These days, I see district magistrates posting photographs of themselves administering vaccines at vaccination camps on Facebook. Social media should be used to promote the government’s schemes, not oneself,” he said. “In fact, I noticed officers would constantly check their phones during meetings. So I have banned phones in my meetings,” he said.
Modi stressed that he has the political will to carry out reforms, and asked bureaucrats to break silos and work together as a team to perform and transform the country. “I do not lack political will. Maybe I have a bit extra,” he said.
The Prime Minister said the country and the civil servants should set a new target of 2022 — marking 75 years of India’s independence. “If we cannot make India emerge as one of the global powers by 2022, then it will be a disservice to our freedom fighters,” he said.
He asked the civil servants to weigh their decisions from an outcome point of view, and not on the basis of output. “Aim to work on a ‘CAG+1’. If you concentrate on achieving the numbers then you will get the output, which may satisfy the CAG’s standards, but you will not get the outcome for welfare of the country,” he said. “Aankado se badlav aata hai kya (Can we achieve change through numbers),” he said.
Reiterating a point from his previous year’s Civil Services Day address, Modi said senior officers should not have a “know-it-all” attitude, and should consider the opinion of their juniors too. “Hierarchy is a legacy of the British era. It creates what I call the burden of experience,” he said.
Raising the issue about people’s perception of the bureaucracy, he said people clap when the Army saves lives during a flood in Kashmir. “The same people may later pelt stones at them but for a moment this deed touches them,” the PM said.