Prime Minister Narendra Modi recently gave a 28-point mantra to all government secretaries, including asking each of them to meet one related counterpart every 15 days, train 10,000 officers for implementation of the GatiShakti scheme, improve India’s ranking in global indices, and also a suggestion to make food labelling mandatory on snacks to curb obesity.
News18 has accessed a document titled ‘Action Points’ from the PM’s interaction with secretaries on April 2, which spells out a number of policy measures from the Prime Minister to improve governance. A big direction was to regard global indices as “opportunities to benchmark ourselves against best practices, identify shortcomings in our framework and processes, and undertake necessary improvements”.
Ministries were also asked by the Prime Minister to have targets for various global indices and that efforts be made to improve the ranking of the country in them. “Proposals submitted to the Cabinet/Cabinet committees relating to various projects, schemes, programmes and policies should incorporate benchmarking with global standards with respect to the proposal,” the document says.
The PM also asked the secretaries to study in detail “cutting-edge global technologies” in different sectors and take steps to adopt them in India. He said each secretary should meet the secretary of another related ministry once in 15 days “to deliberate on the cross-cutting issues, to facilitate working in a more coordinated manner”.
Focus on GatiShakti
The PM’s signature GatiShakti initiative also found mention in the directions, specifying that for expeditious implementation of the scheme, mapping of the skill set of officers is necessary. “A target of training 10,000 officers on infrastructural issues, financing models and related subjects, may be fixed which may be imparted online anywhere, anytime and on demand,” the document says.
PM Modi also asked all ministries to use the GatiShakti master plan for granting in-principle clearances to projects and base regulatory clearances on the same to expedite infrastructure projects. The GatiShakti platform was launched by the Prime Minister to streamline the execution of infrastructure projects.
The PM sought the strengthening of the economics and statistics divisions in the Department of Economic Affairs and Ministry of Statistics & Programme Implementation respectively, as well as in other ministries. He also said that each ministry should assess “long-term opportunities” for exports and fine-tune their policies to “fully leverage such opportunities”.
Some radical ideas
The PM asked for the launch of a “National Mission on Coastal Shipping” and the same to be anchored by the two key user ministries “which will directly benefit for it — the Ministry of Power and Ministry of Food and Public Distribution”. He also asked for the development of “Manufacturing Enclaves” with simplified rules and procedures to promote employment opportunities and greater participation in the global supply chain. “Research Parks are required to be transformed into Industrial Parks, through handholding by both government and private players,” the document says, citing the PM’s instructions.
The Prime Minister also suggested “eco mark labelling or a green label” on products and directed that to curb obesity, “food labelling on snacks may be made mandatory”. This could be a major reform as obesity has been flagged as a major health hazard among Indians. “Health informatics is an important emerging area. Information about rare diseases is to be collated and made available for strategically utilising the same,” the document with News18 mentions.
The PM asked for the creation of facilities at the district level where chemotherapy may be given by trained doctors and nurses and the use of telemedicine to be emphasised and made available at every health centre.
The university system, he said, should be strengthened by bringing more state universities onboard and added that the aim should be to enhance the number of scientists from 1 lakh to 3 lakh. “Scientific institutions who are taking risk should be given tax benefits to promote innovation,” the documents say. The PM also said that line ministries concerned with a sector should be given the responsibility of implementing projects in neighbouring countries in coordination with the Ministry of External Affairs for expeditiousness.
“Legal agreements should not only be scrutinised from legal angle but also in terms of outcomes and whether the clauses achieve/protect national interests,” the document says, specifying the PM’s instructions to the Law Ministry.
Jobs and fiscal discipline
At this meeting, the PM also asked for employment generation to be given “top priority” and said that should be the focus of government interventions across public and private sectors. “Every Ministry should immediately take steps to fill up existing vacancies against sanctioned posts,” the directions said. The PM subsequently ordered earlier this month that 10 lakh vacancies in central government jobs must be filled in the next 18 months.
At the April 2 meeting, the PM also said timely payments to the MSME sector should be ensured both by the public and private sectors. He said that the importance of fiscal discipline at the states’ level needs to be suitably communicated and long-term fiscal implications of policy measures/decisions should be analysed and the findings shared with state governments. He also asked for expeditious implementation of recommendations related to the rationalisation of autonomous bodies and continued efforts to identify more such bodies for the exercise.
PM Modi also sought the simplification of procedures to promote agro-based forestry and cultivation of bamboo as this may generate employment, particularly in the MSME sector. He asked for a “mission mode” exercise towards decriminalisation of minor offences and violations and their repeal or amendment in a time-bound manner. “The ongoing Vision@2047 exercise needs to be completed in a time-bound manner. Consultations in this regard should involve all levels of officers including young officers working in the field and at District level,” the PM said.