Young and dynamic officers, not extra funds, is Prime Minister Narendra Modi's panacea for putting 115 backward districts of the country on the development path.
Inaugurating the National Legislators Conference at Parliament's Central Hall, Modi virtually ruled out any extra budgetary support for the backward districts but insisted on implementing the existing government schemes on a mission mode.
Modi said one of the key issues these backward districts face is the lack of young and dynamic officers.
"The average age of districts collectors is 27-30... but in case of backward districts 80% of collectors are over the age of 40 years and mostly have promotee officers from state civil services," he said.
He said postings to these 115 districts, too, is seen as a punishment in the officer ranks leading to demoralising of the cadre.
Modi said he was talking to chief ministers on posting fresh IAS officers to such districts to impart a new dynamism to implementation of government policies.
The two-day conference, organised at the initiative of Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan, aims to provide a platform to MPs, MLAs and MLCs from across the country to share their experiences and learn from each other's success stories on developmental issues.
The prime minister urged the legislators, particularly from the 115 backward districts, to identify the shortcomings in implementation of the government schemes and make efforts to rectify them by ensuring public participation.
"Public participation always helps. Wherever officials have worked with people and involved them in the development process, the results are transformative," he said.
Niti Ayog, the government think tank, has been tasked to identify the most backward districts in the country and suggest an action plan to ensure their development.
Accordingly, NITI Ayog had identified 115 districts on the basis of indicators of education, health, nutrition, basic infrastructure, rural household electrification, and access to potable water and individual toilets.
Of these 115, 35 districts are affected by Left-wing extremism.
In November last year, NITI Ayog had appointed an additional secretary and a joint secretary-rank officer as "prabhari" (in-charge) of these districts to coordinate efforts taken by the Centre and the states to ensure their development.