Prime Minister's Office

English rendering of PM’s speech on Civil Services Day 2018 at VigyanBhawan, New Delhi

Posted On: 21 APR 2018 11:00PM by PIB Delhi

The dignitaries present on the dais, officers present in the VigyanBhawan, the other officers of civil services busy tendering their service to the nation in remote corners of the country, ladies and gentlemen, congratulations and best wishes to all of you on the occasion of Civil Services Day.

Once again I got the opportunity to talk to you. Today’s occasion is important in several ways, it is for appreciation, evaluation and the most importantly, it is also for introspection. Today’s occasion is also for reflecting on those resolutions and directions which had been made in the past to see how far we have moved ahead and to what extent we have succeeded and how much change we could bring about in the life of the common man.

Friends, be it an individual or a system, howsoever capable and effective it may be it requires constant motivation for better results. An attempt is made through giving of awards. Prime Minister’s Awards are one such attempt in this series.

Today, several officers have been honored with the Prime Minister’s Award for doing good work in their respective fields. I congratulate all those who have received this award today and I also convey my best wishes to them to perform even better in future.

Friends, one of the objectives of these awards is to motivate but at the same time it also aims at how to expand, how to make it more comprehensive and to do more; in a way it also reflects the priorities of the government. And this year a provision was also made for giving awards in the categories of priority programs and innovation. Under the priority programs, the awards have also been given for publicizing Prime Minister’s Crop Insurance Scheme, DeenDayalUpadhyay Skill Development Scheme, Prime Minister’s Housing Scheme and digital payments.

The schemes for which awards have been given are very important to realize our dreams for a New India. These are very important for our economy and for improving living conditions of the common man. Be it World Bank or global rating agencies, they keep discussing about the ease of doing business but a country like India cannot stop by just achieving the ease of doing business. For us it is like how to bring about ease of living in the life of the common man. We cannot forget that despite having such a large number of public servants, long experience of years and good work done by people down the generations; the common man still has to struggle with the government every single moment, he has to look for his space within the governance to get his rights. And this is the biggest hurdle in the way of ensuring the ease of life.

If we can accomplish this much that he does not have to ask for his right then I think the kind of change that will come into the lives of 1.25 billion countrymen, will not take much time to transform the country. The people themselves will change the country andwe will just keep watching. When the son goes out for a few years and then returns even his mother wonders that she did not have an inkling of when her son turned into a full grown youth. 

I have been told about the applications that have been received for this year’s awards. The people sitting here are very happy. But, I can’t be happy right away. Because there could be such districts, such officers in our country who do not want to participate in this contest. They don’t feel the urge to make an effort. I welcome those who have come but I’m concerned about those who have not come.

It means that there is stagnation in their lives; their internal energy has ebbed away and this can’t be the life. If there is no determination or enthusiasm to do something new till the last moment of life, if no effort is being made then there cannot be any bigger end to the life.

And I don’t believe that at district level there are people who are aged and who have been bogged down with difficulties. I don’t believe in this. Those people are full of energy and they had come with the courage to do a lot of things. I don’t believe that I can have such colleagues who believe in status quo, who believe that it will be like this only, we have spent lifetime like this; such kind of person can’t be my colleague. There must be some spark in his heart. But if someone amongst us tries to revive the spirit of the person where some dust has settled. You see that those who are in the last 25, if they get a chance then perhaps the next time they will be the ones who will be in the top 25.

Eventually, the human touch is more important than schemes in achieving the success and it is the human touch which creates team spirit. And it is human touch alone that strengthens the determination to realize the dreams. And that’s why I have said that it is our effort to get an opportunity to reward those who are good but those who are difficult then they should be called here in a positive environment and they should be given more love and encouragement. I too will understand this, because no one is lazy or worthless. Everybody has come with energy. What is required that we (harness) that energy.

Sometimes we would have seen that some electric bulb in the house doesn’t work. Sometimes the thought that straight away comes to mind is that its fuse is blown off. This bulb is useless. However, some wise person says: ‘just a minute, let’s check whether it’s disconnected?’ He repairs the plug and the bulb starts working. Whether that person sitting in the corner has got disconnected from us? Let’s check one more time, let’s connect a bit more and then again he will again start shining like electricity and will start giving the full light which is capable of changing others lives.

Today, I have got the opportunity to dedicate two books here. One contains all the finer details of those who have been awarded with the Prime Minister’s Award and the other one is about aspirational districts. Now I believe that a large number of our officers are going to districts from our place. In a way the movement of going back to basics is going on.

Even they would not have thought that there would be this kind of Prime Minister who would put them into the same kind of work. However, I see that nearly 1,000 officers should go to those remotest districts those that have been lagging behind according to the average of that state, and nearly 1,000 people have come forward. And these people have not come forward because of some order, they have come forward because of their self-inspiration. And it is this self-inspiration that makes me see that aspirational districts in the leading role. You see if we work for three years, if we work for three years by setting a target within that time frame then these one hundred and fifteen districts will become the driving force for the states and the country; this kind of strength is there in them.

And everyone feels that whatever parameters we wanted to improve upon, because this experience is there if there is a district in the system and if it is pushed then our record improves whenever we need to present them. Brother! We had a target of 100 and we have achieved 80, but this 80 have been done in just one corner.

The age of bicycles has gone, but during the earlier times when we used to fill air in our bicycles there used to be a meter to measure that how much air has been filled, so we came to know that now the bicycle will run. However, sometimes, there used to develop a balloon at one side of the bicycle’s tube and the meter used to show that the air has been filled in the right quantity. The meter was working well but whether the bicycle will run or not? Because on one side there is a balloon and the rest of the tube remained empty; and that balloon used to become an impediment. Sometimes, one or two districts in some states perform so well that the particular state looks very impressive in terms of statistics but that in itself becomes an impediment in the entire journey of development.

Our effort is to push the journey of development in these one hundred and fifteen districts in an even manner. You see there will be results very soon. The biggest psychological impact which is created is that you people would have noticed that if there are three-four kids in a family and if one or two of them perform well then parents always focus on those children. If a guest comes then they present that child that it had secured so many marks in the 10th. He has got admission in the 12th. He is very good, he will become a doctor. And what about the rest two! Let’s not talk about them. But, what happens to those two kids ? They go down the path of despair because of our actions and then they end up losing the courage to stand up.

The same thing has happened to these districts in our country as we presented performing districts so many times, we brought them up to the Prime Minister’s Awards. However, those which face difficulty there must be some reason behind it; there must be some local issues with them; now they feel that: ‘just leave it friends, we are not counted anywhere, we will somehow pass two-three years.’ And then he used to think about getting transferred from that place with the help of some politician and more lengthy the politician’s kurta, the more influential he will be.

And, that’s why I believe that it’s very much needed for us that we just don’t give statistics. Instead of a big number in our graphics system a kind of strategic thinking is extremely essential for the success. If there is a strategic thinking then people keep drawing towards that automatically with a proper planning, and experience plays a role into that. And you would have seen that only those people succeed who have a tendency of working in detail.

Have you ever seen a mother to measure salt in a weighing machine like gold while cooking vegetables? No, it doesn’t happen.  Even if she puts salt with her eyes closed, it will be the right quantity because at one point of time she had done the detailing and now that practice is there. Now she does these things with ease. If we develop a habit in our system then I believe that we can bring about a huge change.

We need to bring up these aspirational districts in every parameter. We don’t have to make them a show piece by improving just one or two things. However, if it could have been done through the government system then it would have already been done long ago. It’s not like that there would not have been good officers in those districts. Even today it is possible that an officer who had  started his life in one of the aspirational districts and now perhaps, he has become the chief secretary of the same state. It means that the officer was talented; it means that he was outstanding; he might be in Delhi as a secretary of a very good department. It’s very much possible that there will be some officer who would have been praised by all around and he would be from the same backward district, and he would have come here by spending 25-27-30 important years of his career there. It does not mean that there was a dearth of talent. Every issue will be there.

In a country like India, our democratic system is not a contract system for five years. Our democratic system, it means the relationship between us and the people, this thinking, this is one of the biggest hurdle. And that is why people’s participation is basis for the success for the countries like India - participatory democracy. We have seen, all of you would have worked at district level as an officer, that during the times of natural calamities we can do those things very easily what is called ‘quantum of work’. The system remains the same but it happens because during the times of calamities the entire society joins us. Everybody lends his hand and because of that we are able to come out of that problem. And I feel that how could we improve people’s participation in taking forward the country? How could we realize its importance?

Unfortunately, this thing has been considered the job of an elected body; of the political leaders. This is the biggest flaw in our thinking. They will keep doing what they are required to do but we are the people in the system of governance about whom a common man never feels that he is doing something for himself. If I do anything then the first of all then: ‘Hmm, friends, 2019 is coming that’s why Modi Ji has come.’ It will instantly strike in their minds and this is the job of 24x7 that they keep injecting this thing.

But if you go then it doesn’t look like this. If you go then they feel that: ‘it’s not like this, sahib has come, he is working so hard, it must be something worthwhile.’ He (common man) immediately connects with you people. And that is why the people those who are today at different level of our administrative system they should come forward to provide leadership. This is a new aspect and we should reflect upon it.

Before independence, it was the job of administration to protect the British Raj. After the independence, the job of people related to administrative system is to make the common people prosperous and to rehabilitate them. If this is the dream then I believe that we can realize those dreams with which we have started our journey. And the objectives with which we have come out, this is the dream of a New India. It’s true that when Mahatma Gandhi launched the Champaran movement, when he sounded the bugle for independence then it did not appear that the independence would be achieved the next morning. And because independence was not to be achieved the next morning so Gandhi Ji should have kept quiet. It’s not like that. Today, independence is not to be achieved but there is hope, aspiration, desires, dreams and optimism in the heart of the common man which connects him with us for marching ahead.

What could be a bigger inspiration than this that 75 years of independence will complete in the year 2022? We experience this thing in our family life, we know that the birthday of our kid will fall in the month of May so planning starts from February-March that what we should day on the birthday. Wise parents say that: ‘look this time your birthday is to be celebrated in a very grand manner. You should do this one thing, you should do this thing this month.’ He also feels that: ‘it’s my birth day, I should do this thing.’ If there is a marriage in the family then people feel that whitewash has not been done for several years, a fresh coat of paint has not been applied; it’s marriage time we will do this thing this time as there is a marriage.

In everybody’s life there are this kind of milestones and due to those milestones the pace is being determined. For us there cannot be a bigger milestone than 2022 because the freedom fighters had sacrificed their lives for independence. There can’t be any bigger inspiration than this.

Let us once again remember those whom we love and should remember whatever dreams they had. And we should march forward, we can do a lot for the country in the next five years. We can do a lot.  Those who would have fought for the independence they would not have thought that when the country would be free then I would become something. No. They also knew that by the time independence would be achieved they might or might not be there. However, he continued to sacrifice for his dreams. And since they sacrificed so we became fortunate to get independence. We also have some responsibility for the next generation. And that is why we should move forward with the system we have.

Also, we will have to accept this thing that there will be a structure for us, there might be procedures for our decision making. I have experienced one thing, because I was fortunate to get the opportunity to work in state for a long period. In a way, I have been brought up amongst you people in the last 20 years. And I continued to learn from the experience of you people because I have spent time amongst you people. However, I have experienced this thing that despite an old structure if there is no innovation, if we do not speed up our decision making process, and, today, fortunately technology can compensate for our shortcomings, it can become our additional strength, we can thoroughly utilize technology for simplifying things. Can we accept those things?

You would be aware that when I had just come amongst you people then I had insisted a lot on this thing that: ‘how could we utilize the space technology in our governance?’ I had given this task to a joint secretary level officer and I kept pressing on that task during the weekends. So our officers paid attention to it. It’s not like that they don’t have any understanding of technology but they feel like going with the existing procedure; they feel like why should they change it, who will listen to them so they feel isolation in bringing about changes and they were not institutionalizing it.

Now gradually it has been realized that ultimately space technology is an useful thing in governance. Whosoever applied his mind, he got one or two youth with him and asked them to apply their minds. Space technology has been playing a big role in doing the planning in detail. 

All these facilities were not there during the times of those officers who were there 20-25 years ago; we are fortunate that now these facilities are available to us. Can we use all kind of technologies that are available to us for our capacity building, for expanding our capacity and for expanding our reach? Can we do it? If we do those things then I’m confident that we can get the desired results and that is why the time demands…, when we were hearing that 21st century was about to approach; you people would have been junior officers at that time; you would have been working in the states.

And a very interesting cartoon was published and it became very famous at that time. A gentleman was standing on a railway platform and a train was approaching from a distance so someone said to him: ‘brother, you don’t have to run, it’s about to reach here.’ It means that the 21st century was about to begin so you didn’t have to run. Two decades of 21st century are about to be completed, have we made any effort to change our decision making process and our systems as per the needs of the 21st century?

Today, artificial intelligence has been discussed in a very detailed manner before you people. If you talk about artificial intelligence with people then by and largeit is confined to driverless cars. The world has changed a lot. It’s possible that we might not be able to do those things but it’s also a tool which can be of use and we will hire experts for that. But if we don’t have an open approach towards these things then what will they say.

And today if we are not able to cope up with the changing technology for the biggest challenges facing the world and to realize the dreams of development then perhaps we will thoroughly lag behind.

There is a perception in the world about India that we have made a huge contribution in the IT revolution. But it is unfortunate that if we became complacent because of that as we thought that we had achieved a very big thing. We became complacent at very basic level but the world has created a different world altogether by creating their own things from those things. 

It’s not going to work for us if we continue to sit and praise what is good with us.  I believe that it is going to play an extremely important role in the life of the common man and in the system of governance. If we can utilize those things then it will not only make our work easier but it will also create a long-term positive impact.

When I had said: minimum government – maximum governance, then it’s the basis of any government’s success. Sometimes, it should be considered in your award giving process that which are the departments that have been implementing this thinking of the government - minimum government – maximum governance?

Perhaps, I had said this thing somewhere. I don’t remember in which forum I had said this thing. Perhaps, it was a small meeting but when I was new here then I talked about it.

It is being said in Hindu mythology that if you perform the pilgrimage of the four sacred places then you will attain salvation. I don’t know exactly where it has been mentioned. However, a file doesn’t reach to its logical conclusion even after moving to 32-32 desks. Don’t we feel that we should find some other way? And I don’t use the term shortcut because, perhaps, you people might not be getting a chance to travel in railways, but I have spent my entire life on railway tracks so I know that it used to be written there: ‘shortcut will cut you short.’ If there was a place from where a track could be crossed then it used to be written there that is why I’m not asking you people to adopt shortcuts. But don’t we feel that so many things that this file must come back from the other desk only it is foolproof? How long we will keep working like this?

Is it a must that everybody should stamp on every file? Is it a must? Can we simplify these procedures? Whether the person who has worked on it in a proper manner? Whether it can become even more foolproof? It’s not like that if the procedures have been simplified then they will not remain foolproof. However, we are not able to get rid of these habits. We don’t change our habits.

Even if it was a time of Whatsapp, even if it was a time of SMS and we would have sent a SMS to home: ‘today evening we will have guests; there will be two people for dinner.’ We would have sent the SMS at 3 in the noon but even then at 5 pm we will ask: ‘have you read my SMS?’ It means that we are not ready to trust the system and that’s why we have been spending extra energy.

It is civil services day. It should be for doing introspection that whether in comparison with the world we have been working in the same direction or we have deviated from that path. Whether we are lagging behind too much in terms of speed in comparison with the world? Whether we will be in 2070 by thinking over the things that they will achieve in 2030?

You can imagine that lest it happens in the eyes of the world that we reach to the situation of that aspirational district during our times. It’s a country full of potential, it is full of power and capability, it’s a country which has tendency to accept new things and it’s a country which has the strength to face the changing situation. Are we keeping ourselves alert for it? Whether the arms of a clock are driving my life or the dreams of a common man have been driving me? If the arms of a clock has been driving me then the salary will be credited on the first day of every month, the amount would be deposited in the bank account and the life will stuck there only. But if every moment of my life attaches itself with the common man then not only his dreams will be realized in any case but I will also go back after experiencing a kind of satisfaction generation after generation. If this kind of belief is there in me then I think that I can do a lot for the country.

And that is why urge you people; some of you would have two years and someone will have one year or six months; someone will have five years or ten years and my young colleagues those who have been listening to me at remote locations with the help of technology, I would like to assure you that I am one of your colleagues. I don’t know what used to happen earlier but that thought has not even crossed my mind. I am not of that kind. I am a common man and your friend. I want to work with you people shoulder to shoulder.

When I was required to visit Masoori then according to the program that was prepared I would visit the place, deliver a lecture and would come back. I said: ‘I will go there and I will spend time with them. At least I would see those people, at least I will see what kind of energy is there, what kind of dreams those people have who are going to be in-charge of at least 20 per cent districts of India in the next three years. At least I will discover myself, I will understand myself.’ And I came back from there after being filled with energy because everyone of them was young, full of energy.

And I am prepared to work in this manner. And therefore I want to work with you people as a colleague. And we will together…and I don’t work for the elections, and please don’t worry about this, there will not be a single officer among you in any part of the country, I have not indicated for doing a single work to anybody by calling him over the phone despite spending 20 years in the system of governance. This is the hallmark of my life. And it is because I have no other dream in my life except my country.

There is no other intention except to bring about change in the lives of 1.25 billion people. Wherever I was, in whichever system I got the opportunity to work then this was the effort to lead the life with this feeling of dedication. And friends, that is why I say that you are an exceptional lot in my life, you are full of capability and you have come with your experience. Your strength, your capability, your dreams, I want to make them my own so that we can see the realization of the dreams of 1.25 billion Indians.

And with this sentiment let us dedicate this Civil Services Day today to the common man of the country and to his dreams. We should march ahead with this pledge. May the year 2022 become the year for taking India’s hopes and aspirations to a new high. I convey my best wishes to all of  you with this expectation.

Thank you very much.




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