The Union Minister of State (Independent Charge) Ministry of Development of North Eastern Region, MoS PMO, Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions, Atomic Energy and Space, Dr Jitendra Singh said that this is a first of its kind of a conference being organised at the initiative of the Government of India, since the two UTs of J&K and Ladakh came into existence on 31st October. This is a curtain raiser for the upcoming initiatives which will be undertaken in these two UTs under the leadership of Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi. The Government will have a series of such events in future, the Minister said. He was addressing at the inauguration of two-day Regional Conference on ‘Replication of Good Governance Practices in UTs of Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh, in Jammu today. The conference is being organised by the Department of Administrative Reforms and Public Administration (DARPG), Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions, Government of India, in collaboration with Government of Jammu & Kashmir and Government of Ladakh.
The Minister said that PM’s focus has been to bring the peripheral states closer to the other parts of India in terms of development. He added that there cannot be holistic development of a nation if some parts are left behind in the development journey. He said that the camp secretariats are being organised at North eastern states every month on rotational basis, the initiative being called ‘DoNER at Doorsteps’. He added that the Government has taken various other initiatives for the development of North eastern states, such as setting up of Bamboo Park and Citrus fruit Park there. He said that the age old Indian Forest Act was amended to exempt bamboo grown in non-forest areas from the definition “Tree”, thereby dispensing with the requirement of obtaining a permit for felling of bamboo for economic use. He said that the venture funds have been provided by DoNER Ministry for the start-ups to curb youth exodus from the NE states. The Minister said that this development model needs to be replicated in the new UTs. He emphasised upon tapping the economic potential of J&K by setting up parks on the similar lines for saffron, bamboo and pashmina. He spoke about the possibility of setting up of a food processing park in Ladakh as well. We need to expose J&K to the similar opportunities as available to the other parts of the country, the Minister said. With the abrogation of Article 370, many such opportunities are now available here. He said that the allowances available to the Government servants across India will now be available in these UTs also and many laws applicable to other parts of the country will now be applicable here also. He emphasised upon changing the work culture to meet the changing expectations. Speaking about the other opportunities available to the youth here, he said that the educational and employment opportunities are growing with the setting up of medical institutions, expressing his happiness over the fact that the UT of J&K has the distinction of having two AIIMS.
Dr Jitendra Singh further said that the role of civil servants has evolved over the years from being just revenue collectors to the development officers. He said that with the changing times, we need to replicate the good governance practices and learn good things that we have unlearnt over the years. The Minister said when PM Shri Narendra Modi took over in the year 2014, he gave the mantra of ‘Minimum Government, Maximum Governance’ and said that Maximum Governance will essentially be bringing more transparency. He quoted various examples like doing away with interviews at lower level posts w.e.f. January, 2016, doing away with about 1500 obsolete rules and also attestation by the gazetted officers. He added that the Governance includes progressively increasing citizens’ participation at all levels. He said that RTI online portal has been launched which provides information to citizens from anywhere to anyone and anytime.
Dr Singh said that the Grievance redressal portal has become more active and responsive under the current Government. He said that the grievances lodged with the Government have increased 8 fold, from about 2 lakh in the beginning to about 16 lakhs at present. This is due to the trust of the citizens posed in the Government, the Minister said. He further added that there is a feedback system set up in the department where the senior officials and the minister himself telephonically calls to check the satisfaction levels of the citizens whose grievances have been disposed by the DARPG. The Minister said that the DARPG has been organising regional conferences outside Delhi, with conferences been organised in various parts including Shillong, Guwahati and Jammu among others.
The Minister said that the Government under the PM Shri Narendra Modi is dedicated to the poor. He said that various schemes and flagship programmes like Jan Dhan Yojana and Ayushman Bharat, have been launched to benefit the people at grass root levels. He said that the Prime Minister has always stressed on the optimum utilisation of technology. He quoted example of EO app in this regard. Speaking about other initiatives, he said that the entire format of PM Excellence Awards has changed now and the civil servants are being awarded for implementation of the flagship programmes, with huge participation seen from peripheral districts in recent years. He also mentioned about the practice of posting the young IAS officers as Assistant Secretaries in the Central Ministries and Departments and the lateral entry to bureaucracy. Mentioning about the amendment to the Prevention of Corruption Act, the Minister said that there is zero tolerance for corruption, at the same time the Government aims to protect the honest officers.
The Minister said that the work culture needs to be changed to suit the changing demands of today. He said that serious thought has been given by Centre to take all decisions and things will unfold in an unimaginable manner. He asked the people not to be led by misconceptions. He said that this year has been the most peaceful festive season in many years in recent past. Youth aspirations are the litmus test for us, which will be facilitated by the Government, he added.
The Lt. Gov. of J&K, Shri G.C. Murmu said that the UTs of J&K and Ladakh have got new opportunities and we need to reinvent ourselves to meet these new challenges. He said that we are the largest democracy in the world and the Government is the agent to meet the expectations of the citizens. He added that there are many archaic laws & procedures and reengineering is required to meet the challenges of changing times. This seminar will give us a platform for exchange of ideas, he added. He further said that people’ participation, awareness and empowerment are a prerequisite for the sustainable governance. He further said that 73rd and 74th amendment must be implemented in letter and spirit.
In a video message, Shri R. K. Mathur, Lt. Gov., Ladakh said that it is very timely conference as the two UTs are embarking on a new path. He added that we can achieve the target of PM’s mantra of Minimum Government, Maximum Governance. He expressed happiness that 19 states and 4 UTs are participating in the conference. Their collective learning and collective wisdom will benefit both UTs, he added.
The Secretary DoPT and DARPG, Dr C. Chandramouli said that the mantra of the Government is to ‘reform, perform and transform’. He said that we need to transform by reforming the existing processes. The purpose of this transformation is to meet the expectations of the people of India. Now, our role is more of a facilitator with maximum governance, minimum Government. He emphasized upon two things i.e. ease of doing business and ease of living for the people. He added that this conference is a platform to learn from each other and will mutually benefit the participants.
The J&K Chief Secretary, Shri BVR Subrahmanyam said that J&K has a lot of potential and this workshop is the beginning of tapping that potential. He said that the scope and definition of good governance has changed with time and since the imposition of Governor’s rule in J&K, Good Governance has been the top priority. He added that 8-fold strategy has been adopted by the UT of J&K, which includes empowering of grass root institutions, accelerating the development programmes, building infrastructure, reinforcing good governance, nurturing entrepreneurship, generating employment, broadening social inclusion and promoting growth. He said that this kind of a conference is being organised in J&K after a long gap. He said that the scope of Good Governance has evolved over time as the expectations of citizens keep on changing. He added that it started from enforcing the rule of law, maintaining law & order and managing crisis situation, to providing basis services to citizens, to welfare and now the scope has broadened to empowering the citizens. He added that with changing scope of good governance, the skill sets required by the administrators also have to change. This can be achieved by constant learning and up-skilling to keep pace with the expectations of the citizens, he further said. Shri Subrahmanyam emphasised that with technology, the response time has come down, so we need to respond fast to the citizens’ expectations.
Earlier in his welcome address, Shri. V. Srinivas, Additional Secretary, DARPG, said that the Department has been engaging extensively with the Government of Jammu and Kashmir. The DARPG has sent three delegations to J&K since August this year. He said that 2 major regional conferences are being organised in Jammu by DARPG; the first being today on the replication of Good Governance practices and the second being organised on 30th November and 1st December on ‘Ek Bharat, Shreshta Bharat’ with emphasis on Jal Shakti and disaster management. He added that the best practices prevalent in other parts of the country will be presented to J&K for replication.
Earlier the day, the Financial Commissioner Finance Department, J&K, Shri Arun Kumar Mehta, chaired the Pre-inaugural Session on the topic “Public Policy and Governance”. In the post lunch session, presentations including topics like ‘Digital Governance’, ‘Citizen centric Governance’ and ‘Aspirational Districts’. On Day 2, Presentations will be made on ‘Select Initiatives’ and ‘Capacity building & Personnel Administration’. The ‘Sushasan Sankalp: Jammu Ghoshana’ Resolution will be adopted in the Valedictory Session.
The main objective of the Conference is to bring national and state level organizations on the same platform to share experiences in Digital Governance, Citizen Centric Governance and Capacity Building and Personnel Administration etc. Delegates from 19 States and 4 Union Territories are participating in the Conference. The Department has organized 31 Regional Conferences till date. This Conference is an effort to create a common platform to share experiences in the formulation and implementation of best practices in citizen centric governance, improved public service delivery through e-Governance, transparent, accountable and citizen-friendly effective administration.