Innovation is the buzzword of the 21st century. Innovation implies novelty of ideas, methods and processes for betterment of outcomes or outputs. So, how can governance as an overarching idea remain aloof from the transformative force of innovation?
Governance is a complex relationship between government and the citizens as stakeholders in the society. What distinguishes Modi government from previous regime is the citizen-centric innovation in the design, implementation and monitoring with a view to make the entire system transparent and faster – “Minimum Government, Maximum Governance.”
While cooperative federalism had always existed as a principle, what Modi government has done is that it has mainstreamed the idea in our everyday political discourse and practice, in contrast to the ‘top-down’ approach of the UPA regime. In consequence, it has striven to accommodate more local aspirations, bring symmetry in an asymmetric federal form of government heavily tilted towards centre – paving the way for a more inclusive polity and thereby strengthening the idea of a New India. Setting up of NITI Aayog replacing the erstwhile Planning Commission, also known as ‘Super Cabinet’, shows how the national priorities and strategies can be worked out on a shared basis, and with active involvement of state governments.
Optimization of Schemes
In UPA era, there was a cobweb of numerous schemes with duplication of efforts. Yet, the schemes were run in silos without any coordination leading to loss to public exchequer with lower levels of outcomes on the other hand. Against this, Modi government took the decision to streamline all centrally-sponsored schemes. It categorized schemes into three types: Core of the Core Schemes, Core Schemes, and Optional Schemes – each with a different funding pattern. It also gave a choice to the states for implementation of locally-relevant schemes along with suitable customization.
JAM for Financial Inclusion
Furthermore, financial inclusion has been a huge focus in order to take financial services to the doorsteps of the citizens of India. Bringing millions of Indians in the banking net was a Herculean task. PM Modi leveraged the Jan Dhan, Aadhaar and Mobile or JAM to completely change the financial landscape. For instance, more than 35 crore beneficiaries had opened bank accounts as on 6 May 2019 under the Jan Dhan Scheme. With JAM in place, an unprecedented level of transparency has been brought in in terms of fund transfers to their bank accounts apart from the seamless access to financial services.
At the same time, Modi government has also introduced various innovative platforms for greater accountability in the larger system of governance. PRAGATI or Pro-Active Governance and Timely Implementation has imparted momentum to the chronically lethargic and slow bureaucracy. PM has directly interacted with the field-level bureaucracy to work out solutions. Being directly accountable to PM has brought together the central and the state bureaucracy in a spirit of cooperative federalism.
Hybrid Annuity Model for Highways
During UPA times, highway projects were stalled due to various disputes emanating from vague policies. For instance, the Engineering, Construction and Procurement (EPC) model and Build-Operate-Transfer (BOT) model for highway development did not deliver as expected. It was the Modi government which came up with innovative Hybrid Annuity Model to expedite the highway projects. No wonder that the average rate of construction of roads was double that of UPA’s during Modi regime.
MyGov and Use of Social Media
Then launching of MyGov website for one-stop platform for citizen engagement was an innovative idea to ensure greater participation of the citizens in governance. Use of twitter for expediting grievance-redressal was yet another masterstroke of the Modi government. For instance, railway ministry acted on the grievances shared on twitter. Rescuing of 168 Indians from Iraq by Ministry of External Affairs after a youtube video had been shared on the twitter, had been another such instance.
Mann ki Baat
Furthermore, the use of radio as a medium for “Mann ki Baat’ was another innovative way to reach out even to the people of remotest areas. It imparted a sense of belongingness in Indians who had earlier felt alienated from the elitist dynastic rule during UPA regime.
Doing away with more than 1500 archaic laws, the emphasis on Ease of Living, establishing Atal Tinkering Labs to promote scientific temper etc, can also be sighted as examples of innovative governance.
Thus, it is clear that there is a strong will on the part of the Modi government to find lasting, sustainable solutions through innovative governance, which could even include non-legislative measures. Such innovative solutions to governance for long will remain a legacy of the Modi regime.