Agenda for action

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has set the ball rolling for his government by identifying the areas of its priority and laying down some guidelines on how to implement policies and decisions. The 10 major areas of action cover the sectors that will receive the government’s immediate attention and also set a general and long term direction for it. It is no surprise that the focus of the government will be on infrastructure development and investment reforms. It is the loss of initiative in these areas that set the country back in the last few years. No sustained growth is possible without action in sectors like education, health, water and energy. The specific policies which will give an impetus in these areas are yet to be announced but they define the government’s broad outlook, going forward.

It is not difficult to identify thrust areas but the difficult part is to formulate the right policies, prepare a road map and travel on it. A target-based and deadline-bound approach to work, which is not known to be the strong point of governments’ functioning, is good for this. The Prime Minister has adopted this approach by asking the ministers to prepare their own agenda of action for the first 100 days. The government has sought inputs on this from different quarters, including senior officials. Transparency, accountability and innovation are important in the formulation and success in implementation of these plans, and the 10-point plan has rightly stressed them. All the government policies are implemented through the official machinery and it is important that the officials are empowered and encouraged to play their instrumental role.

A large and varied country like India with uneven development and different needs in different states and regions cannot have an entirely Centre-driven approach to issues of growth and solution of problems. Therefore, it is appropriate that the Prime Minister has told his ministers to be sensitive to the views of chief ministers and members of parliament in framing policies and taking decisions. This will give greater acceptability and representativeness to the Centre’s policies. No development plan can be effectively implemented without the states’ participation and co-operation. There is a practical aspect also to this because large areas of the country have political dispensations which are different from the government at the Centre. The promise of a people-oriented governance can be fulfilled only when the Centre goes down to the states.

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