Minimum Government Maximum Governance
Ever since Shri Narendra Modi expanded his Council Of Ministers, some experts have started criticising him for not practising what he had been preaching all along.
During the election campaign Shri Modi had repeatedly talked of ‘Minimum Government Maximum Governance’. And when he had formed his government in May 2014 it was said that he was actually trying to give the country minimum government. But now, it is being said, this is slogan will only evoke sarcasm.
Council of Ministers, UK
I just looked into composition of ministry in UK. There are twenty two cabinet ministers including the Prime Minister. In addition there are eleven junior ministers who also attend the cabinet meetings. UK has a population of only 65 million people and an area of 243000 sq km and a council of thirty three ministers to govern the country.
Minimum Government in India
India has a population of 1250 million people and an area of 1270000 sq km. How many ministers would form an ideal council of ministers to provide maximum governance to a population which is twenty times that of UK? It can be a debatable issue. But a council of sixty five ministers would not necessarily imply a shift from minimum government to maximum government; the caveat being that every minister is required to do some meaningful work and not to just fill a billet.
The problem at the level of ministers is not primarily of numbers but of competence and commitment. A small council comprising of corrupt and or incompetent ministers can do more damaged than a large council of competent and honest ministers.
And in this discussion we seem to ignore issues at the level of bureaucracy and the bigger issue of plethora of laws, rules, regulations, orders, bye-laws, instructions, directions, guidelines etc, written or otherwise, that are in force and are implemented by the huge bureaucracy as per their own understanding and will. It is the bureaucracy and the laws etc that generally make the life of an average Indian almost impossible.
Bureaucracy thrives on empire building; there are inter-departmental and inter-service rivalries. Innovation and improvisations are not favourably looked upon. Very few people are willing to take decisions and stick their necks out. Even those who are not corrupt are more concerned with their career and growth and less with professional integrity
And of rules etc less said the better; I will just quote two examples to make my point.
While examinig a representation of a scheduled caste officer we found that Department of Personnel & Training (DOPT) had issued two orders on the same subject and that one order contradicted the other. Both could not be implemented concurrently. We took up the issue with DOPT to find out as to which order was valid. DOPT advised that both orders were to be applied harmoniously. How two contradictory orders could be harmonised in implementation, that they did not explain. We were in a quandary; matter was resolved when it became sub judice.
In 2008 my son wanted a passport on Tatkal basis. We went to the passport office, waited in one queue and then second queue. After two hours of waiting our turn came and we were disposed of in less than thirty seconds. The official threw the application back at us saying that people born in…….. were not eligible to get a passport on Tatkal basis. Why was not that mentioned in your website, we tried to argue but to no avail. I literally bulldozed my way into RPO’s office and convinced him to issue passport on Tatkal basis.
I was holding a responsible position in government and could find access to RPO. But what of millions of people, most of whom have no understanding of systems and procedures, but who have to deal with different authorities, day in and day out; anyone can show any rule and make the life of common man miserable.
It is here that we need to have minimum government and not in council of ministers. We need far less laws and rules and instructions and guidelines. And every rule etc must be carefully worded, ensuring that scope for interpretation and litigation is minimized, if not totally eliminated. And we definitely need a smaller but competent bureaucracy.