Traditionally, the Prime minister holds the charge of Space, Atomic Energy, Personnel, Public Grievances and Pension departments, but in addition to all these departments the major change on policy level that Narendra Modi has introduced is holding the charge of all important policies decision of the new government. Contrary to previous traditions, the Prime Minister will now take decisions on important policies in consultation with the ministers.
This is a complete reversal of the system in place over the past decades, where the Prime Minister Office (PMO) spelt out that ministers could take decisions on most matters. Ministers only needed to keep the PM in the loop on those policy issues where they ‘feel’ the PM needs to be informed or should take a final decision. As a result of that system, ministers took policy decisions in their own way, no matter the other ministries have different views on the same resulting in confrontations among different ministries. This autonomy to individual ministers also led to scams. As in the case of 2G scam, the then Telecom Minister A Raja issued telecom licences in 2008 without carrying out an auction .When this matter went to the court, Raja argued that he had always kept the Prime Minister informed about the process he was adopted.
In case of Coal Block allocation, the Coal Ministry abruptly allotted coal blocks at its own whims and fancies to various individuals without consulting the Ministry of Environment. As a result the Ministry of Environment refused to grant clearance to many blocks for coal mining on environmental grounds resulting in the shortage of coal for thermal power plants and the country was forced to import coal. There are so many examples, which can be cited in this regard. Due to this practice, the PMO influence dwindled and led to policy paralysis. There was a lack of collective responsibility of the Cabinet.
Now the Modi government has decided to take collective decisions, which is expected to lead to collective responsibility, uniformity, effective and time bound implementation, as has been seen in Gujarat under Modi’s CMship. As every decision had Modi’s stamp, his critics argued Modi worked like a dictator. In a TV interview during election campaign, Narendra Modi ruled out this allegation and said before taking any decision he discussed the issue in depth and during the discussion every minister freely put his views on the subject and only after that the decision was taken. When a decision is taken collectively, everyone has to implement it with full determination. He described it as a team work.
Now Modi as Prime Minister implemented this team work in New Delhi also for good governance. He encouraged the officials to freely interact with him with their ideas, when he held a preliminary meeting with officials of PMO on May 28, 2014. This is the clear example how Modi welcomes new ideas from every section of the society and implements them for the welfare of the common good. For the same purpose he advised all his ministers to go on micro blogging sites and social media platforms to interact with the people and invite their suggestions, initiate discussions, seek feedback and incorporate valuable suggestions. Narendra Modi himself has been active on facebook and twitter for the last several years and used it as a powerful medium to interact with the people.
Narendra Modi basically inherited this spirit of taking collective decision from the RSS, where before taking any decision the issue is discussed with its all prone and cones and afterwards the decision is implemented uniformly without any ifs and buts.
-Dr Ravindra Agrawal, The writer is a senior journalist and can be contacted at [email protected]