Prime Minister Narendra Modi demanded quick and bold decisions from the top officials, telling them not to worry about prosecuting agencies. He promised to back them all the way if they make honest mistakes.
In his first meeting with nearly 80 secretary-rank officers, Modi went beyond a pep talk and asked them: “What are your expectations from your PM”?
When some secretaries flagged the fear of enforcement agencies for delayed decisions, Modi told them not to fear prosecution if they do their work honestly. The PM suggested that the fear of enforcement agencies was largely exaggerated.
“Out of 36 lakh government employees, how many have been prosecuted? Only a handful. You need not worry if 2 out of your 10 decisions go wrong if you work with honest intentions,” Modi – who spoke entirely in Hindi – said, promising them his support.
After assuming power with a sweeping majority in the Lok Sabha elections, Modi has already indicated that he wants an efficient government.
In Wednesday's interaction that lasted nearly two-and-a-half hours, Modi cited former Congress chief minister PC Sethi telling secretaries: “Politicians should learn to say No and bureaucrats should learn to say Yes”.
Referring to Hindu religious practices, Modi said, “One attains moksha (salvation) by travelling to Chaar Dham. But files go in circles to 32 dhams without attaining salvation. Limit the file movements to Chaar Dham”.
To curb inefficiency, the PM told secretaries to “identify 8-10 redundant regulations and do away with them”.
While assuring the officers that he will work on the "basis of trust" and not favouritism, he said top priority should be given to redressing people’s grievances.
When a secretary suggested emulating Helsinki's biodiversity park, Modi shot back: “That is all fine. But we should be thinking why we have lower agricultural productivity than our neighbours.”
Modi advised the secretaries against blindly imitating the West, asking them to apply their own mind. “You can meet me at any time. You can contact me on email or ring me up,” Modi said while wrapping up the meeting.