New Delhi: "Government means rules and regulations while governance means delivery. Government is all about power, governance is all about empowerment. Government is all about files, governance is all about life. Government is all about outlay, governance is all about outcome."
That is how Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi described governance, as opposed to government, at Network 18's first Think India Dialogue on Monday in New Delhi.
Modi, who had earlier in the day addressed the FICCI Ladies Organisation, said that India was being hurt by the rot in its political system that viewed the common man as the "seeker" and itself as the "provider". "That, I would say, is a crime. The man in front of you is an Indian. He deserves to be treated well," Modi said.
Modi, however, had a strong word for the general public too. Citing the example of how the comman man was more concerned about, and hence took better care of, his old scooter than a brand new transport department bus, Modi said, "The people do not care about public property. Their 'mera kya?' and 'mujhe kya' (general indifference) attitude has ruined the country. Often the public fails to follow the laid-down rules, which further complicates the system." He was quick to add that this also reflected a lack of faith in the government by the people.
Modi said that gaining back the faith of the people in the government was important and for that public-private partnership would not do. "What is required is people-public-private partnership," Modi said. "It is my P4 model of governance, whereby people are made a part of the decision-making process," the Gujarat strongman added.
Modi further explained his point when he spoke of the land acquisition process in Gujarat. "It is not coercive. The farmer is not exploited. The government facilitates a direct, face-to-face meeting between the farmer and the private parties and the former quotes the price," Modi said. Modi added that the visiting parties are even told to dress properly for the occasion. "We tell them not to visit the farmers in their suits and ties and big cars," Modi said, to loud applause from the audience.
Modi further added that the system of politics and power play in India led to policy paralysis. Commenting on the way in which politics affected decision making power of the governments, he said that the priority for political parties and leaders in India was to win elections and remain in power. "All decisions are taken keeping an eye on the next election. Political parties are under pressure to avoid or delay decisions dues to elections," Modi said.
"The decision making process is affected by political pressure. which damages society's trust in government. Our entire decision making process is influenced by pressure from all quarters. This is dangerous. It leads to deterioration of society as then people start taking the law into their own hands to get justice," he said.
Modi said the only way to increase people's faith in the system was through better governance. "The government is omnipresent in India. Still governance is lacking which results in people losing faith in the institution. God is omnipresent, and people have faith in god. Why? It is because god doesn't discriminate, but the government does," Modi said.
Modi added that technology should be utilised for better governance and the education system should focus on skill development of the youth in order to increase their employability. He cited examples from Gujarat to prove his point.
He pointed out that to improve the functioning of nagarpalikas in Gujarat, the government launched a MBBS-type internship programme in engineering and provided incentives to graduates to work with the municipalities. The Gujarat strongman said that there was a sea change in the functioning of the nagarpalikas as soon as engineers were hired as the technical hurdles were overcome. Their results improved drastically and the government's coffers too grew.
Emphasising on the need to decentralise power, Modi revealed how his government was taken to task by the Centre for laying down gas pipeline across the state. "The Gujarat government was targeted by the Centre for laying down gas pipeline across the state. The Centre said that it was its job, not the state's. What is the use of such policies? We have reduced this centralisation of power in Gujarat," Modi said.
Giving an example, Modi explained how Gujarat had outsourced the system of lift inspection to private companies and how the government was reaping benefits because of that. "Government must come out of ornamental activities and focus on providing basic services," the leader added.
Elaborating upon his point, Modi said that informing the people, decentralisation of power, people's consent, their participation in decision making will all go a long way in ensuring better governance.