“Last 48 months of Transforming India driven by the proactive, swift and determined approach”: Shri Suresh Prabhu
How would you define the last 48 Months of Transforming India under the leadership of PM Narendra Modi with regards to scale, speed and innovation?
I believe that the last 48 months of Transforming India have been driven by the proactive, swift and determined approach that is the recognizable tenet of PM Narendra Modi’s leadership. We are expanding the areas of trust; rather than tunneling into the void of doubts. This represents a complete shift in the Government’s mindset from being the issuing authority to becoming a partner in the journey to growth.
The Government has launched several schemes across key sectors which impacts our economy and touches different aspects of people’s lives. Take for example Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojna, the world’s biggest financial inclusion program, has resulted in unparalleled financial inclusion in the country. Digital India is leading India towards a digital economy. Make in India, aimed at increasing share of manufacturing in India’s GDP is showing results. Swaccha Bharat Mission is leading to a cleaner India. Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana, Atal Pension Yojana, Pradhan Mantri Jeevan Jyoti Bima Yojana Pradhan Mantri Suraksha Bima Yojana are all aimed at creating a strong social safety net. Beti bachao, Beti Padhao, Sukanya Samrridhi Yojana and Ujjwala Yojna are empowering women as never before. Startup India, Stand up India, Mudra Yojana Yojana are creating a robust entrepreneurial ecosystem in the country and transforming our youth from being job seekers to job creators. Be it Railways, roads or any other sector, we have created infrastructure at an unparalleled scale and pace. These are just to name a few.
The focus of Government is not only to roll out schemes but also implement them with speed and transparency. We are a firm believer that to achieve higher growth on a scale of the size of India, inclusiveness, technology and innovation are of paramount importance. We are working on the paradigm of ‘Participative Governance’. Citizens are collaborating with the Government to play a key role in nation building. We are empowering citizens through digital means also. Ministries are very actively interacting with citizens through social media and digital platforms such as mygov.in. Prime Minister himself has established direct communication with the citizens. This is a paradigm change from the past.
There is a greater coordination between difference ministries that has brought in speed, reduced wastage, increased transparency and ensured that all stakeholders work jointly. States and Centre are working with a paradigm of “Cooperative Federalism” in a collaborative manner towards developing a new India.
We are surely moving towards creating a “New India” under the leadership of Honorable Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi.
What are the most impactful initiatives and schemes of the Ministry/Ministries led by you?
There are several. Various initiatives and schemes have been launched which are showing tremendous results.
Make In India program has been launched to transform India into a global hub for manufacturing and an integral part of the global value chain. We have received record levels of FDI inflows and India has come into the global spotlight as the marquee destination for investments in industrialization. These investments are spread over several sectors such as petroleum, steel, automobiles and auto parts, electronics etc.
A new start up eco-system is growing and thriving in India.Under the Startup India initiative over 6,000 Startups have already been recognized by DIPP. The startup India hub is proving as a one stop solutions for startups for information and mentoring. By connecting startup founders, investors, mentors it is acting as a force multiplier for the startup ecosystem. Startup Yatra is being undertaken to foster startup ecosystem in Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities.
Our Ease of Doing Business initiatives have been tremendous success, we have carried out several reforms on the business, investment, governance and cross border trading front. We have entirely abolished many old laws and Acts which were only complicating governance. A New bankruptcy code is in place. As a result, we could make a record jump in World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business ranking and for the first time India broke into Top 00 countries. Doing business in India is becoming not only easier but also pleasurable.
UDAN(Ude Desh ka Aam Nagrik), an innovative program launched to enable air travel more accessible and affordable is bringing Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities to the air route map of India at an unparalleled pace enabling more and more citizens of our country to fly. Under NABH Nirman, we are focusing on building next gen airport infra in the country, expand airport capacity more than five times capable of handling over a billion trips per year.
In Railways, we focused on building infrastructure at an unparalleled speed. We prepared a Rs. 8.5 Lakh Cr Capex investment plan to expand the rail connectivity and upgrade infra. We undertook a Mission 41K to save Rs. 41,000 Cr through energy savings. For the first time, we implemented real time passenger redressal system through social media. It was one of the world’s largest customer complaint redressal system. Through this, we did not only provide relief to passengers, but it also drove tremendous culture change within the organization, In true spirit of Cooperative Federalism we entered into JVs with state Governments to multiply Rail infra creation efforts. For the first time, we set up an environment directorate in Ministry of Railways to have a 360 degree approach towards making Indian Railways a truly green organization. Cleanliness was a major thurst area. Digital initaitives like Clean my Coach, E-catering, E-wheelchair brought services at a passenger’s finger point.
While these initiatives among many others produced excellent results, we have still a long way to go and we are determined in our journey to continuous improvement.
When you assumed office, what were the key challenges faced in the sector relevant to the Ministry/Ministries led by you? How did you overcome those challenges and achieve the goal of last mile delivery of governance?
Back in 2014, it was a very challenging situation for me. I had just taken over charge of Indian Railways and I found Railways had become a white elephant for the Government. The railway network was overburdened and inadequate to meet the new challenges of a fast developing economy. Years of inadequate investments impacted the Railways badly. The challenge at hand was to turn this vicious cycle into a virtuous cycle and that’s exactly what we did.
As such one of the first things that we realized was the need for modernization of railways as a backbone of the Indian economy. We were guided by Honorable Prime Minister’s vision that Railways can be the engine of growth for the economy. We focused on augmenting Rail connectivity, enhancing the speed and reliability of the trains, modernization of tracks, rolling stock and intervention of high speed technology. We also pushed dedicated freight corridor for quicker movement of freight and decoupling of freight and passenger trains.
We brought in structural reforms and cultural change in the organization which was prerequisite to bringing in transformational change. We made the organization more responsive and also improved internal communication. We organized a mega ideation workshop “Rail Vikas Shivir” in which ideas were invited from over 13 lakh employees and the final round attended by none other than Honorable Prime Minister. This enhanced a sense of ownership in every employee.
In Commerce and Industry, the Government has already set its foot towards pushing India as a major manufacturing destination with a focus on improving the business environment in India. The flagship program Make in India with focused promotion has pushed India as the preferred FDI destination. The Government has now set its target on the value added manufacturing by using latest technology. We are giving a major push to innovation in manufacturing through R&D focus in our new Industrial policy in Industry 4.0 technologies such as IOT, 3D manufacturing, AI etc.
Start up India has been launched to foster entrepreneurship and enhance innovation in India. As a result, India is now among the top economies in terms of a startup ecosystem. We have fostered global ties.
Today India is playing a lead role in multilateralism in trade. Recently held WTO Mini Ministerial in India reaffirmed India’s lead role in furthering the cause of multilateralism in global trade. Giving boost to exports, finding new markets for Indian products are challenges we are working on with a holistic strategy. One of our major push is to create world class industrial infrastructure and logistics ecosystem across India.
In Civil Aviation, challenges are to enhance regional connectivity and making more and more citizens fly. Making air travel, a more pleasurable experience is another thrust area. Along with increasing air traffic, we have to create next generation infra for meeting the future demand. We are adopting a holistic strategy to address all these challenges and turn them into opportunities.
You must have met with many citizens across the country who have largely benefited from the initiatives taken up by Ministry/Ministries led by you…. Could you detail some of the memorable experiences and untold stories shared by citizens?
Citizens are at the center of our Governance efforts. When a citizen centric approach is adopted by the Government, the end beneficiaries i.e. the citizens are bound to get the maximum benefit. Nothing is more satisfying than happy citizens – as they are the proof that our efforts are in the correct direction.
Travelling by rail/ air has become a pleasurable experience for our citizens. In fact, a larger number of airports and enhanced rail connectivity have enabled more Indians to travel for all sorts of purposes such as studying, conducting business, attending family functions and seeking medical help not available in their local area. When I witness such cases, it truly gives me a sense of satisfaction. Today railways provides instant resolution of passenger complaints/ queries on the go via our twitter/ social media handle. I have personally handled such cases where passengers have directly reached out to me and I had personally intervened.There were cases where we could help passengers in distress like emergency medical condition, law and order issues. One of such passengers sent a photograph of his from ICU thanking us that because of prompt attention, he was alive and safe. Obviously we are no one to give life, but such feedbacks give immense satisfaction at having done your job well.
When it comes to startups, it is evident that Tier 1 cities are spawning hundreds of entrepreneurs regularly. But when it comes to Tier 2, Tier 3 cities and rural hubs, there was virtually no access to any resource that might be conducive to a grassroots entrepreneur’s success. Now that the situation is changed due to the work that is happening under Startup India initiative, I regularly see and meet many entrepreneurs, who hail from Tier 2, Tier 3 cities and rural hubs and are able to fulfill their entrepreneurial ambitions.
All these interactions give us immense satisfaction and motivates us to do better.