Book discussion of the book titled ‘Towards a New India: Governance Transformed 2014-2019’ by Addl. Secy. Sh V Srinivas on 11 Mar 2020 at the VIF
Sh Amitabh Kant- CEO, NITI Aayog
Sh. Sudhir Bhargava, Former Chief Information Commissioner of India
Dr. Vinod Kumar Paul, Member, NITI Aayog

It gives me great pleasure to welcome you to the discussion of Sh V Srinivas’s latest book Towards a New India: Governance Transformed 2014-2019. Sh Bibek Debroy, Chairman Prime Minister’s Economic Advisory Council has written the foreword.

Sh Srinivas, IAS is currently Additional Secretary to Government of India in the Department of Administrative Reforms and Public grievances, Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions. He served as Deputy Director (Administration) at the Al India Institute of Medical Science, Director General, National Achieves of India and Joint Secretary in the Ministry of Textiles and Culture in the year 2010-17. He was also the Chairman of the Board of Revenue for Rajasthan and Chairman of the Rajasthan Tax Board in 2017-2018. In 2017, he was awarded the Indian Council of World Affairs Book Research Fellowship for his first book, India’s Relations with International monetary Fund 1991-2016 – 25 years in Perspective.

Friends,

These days we are getting a lot of negative news, be it the spread of coronavirus, the slowdown of the economy, communal riots in Delhi, or the crisis in Yes Bank. Today we have something positive to discuss.

Sh Srinivas’s book is a welcome departure from the doom and gloom scenario that is dominating the headlines. In this book, he has discussed the successful launch and implementation of over a hundred government’s path breaking social welfare schemes such as Swachh Bharat, Ujjwala, JAM (linking of Jan Dhan accounts, Mobile numbers and Aadhar cards), Ayushman Bharat, Start-up India and many others launched in the last few years. These have benefited millions of people in the country. These will have a positive impact on the building of a New India.

The book is comprehensive as it covers the key social sector schemes in diverse sectors ranging from health, education, rural development, skills and the digitalization to social inclusion, yoga, culture, sports, fight against corruption and improving justice delivery system. A number of positive stories have been mentioned.

Schemes, essential as they are, not enough. Their implementation is equally critical. The common perception is that bureaucracy is a major stumbling block to the implementation of government schemes. Although the statement cannot the generalized, there is considerable truth in this. One does not see the ideal of selfless service in larger bureaucrats. Careerism, survivability and ad-hocism are prized writer, Political class and bureaucracy have to take a share of the blame for the present state of affairs for deficiency in governance. While, there is no dearth of highly dedicated, honest and forward-looking officials who do yeomen service during the time crisis, neither does the country lack visionary leadership, a widespread mindset change has yet to occur. An efficient, neutral and empathetic bureaucracy is essential for the implementation of visionary scheme of the government.

Sh Srinivas in his book identifies the challenges that India faces in its journey of transformation. As he says in the book, the Lokpal, the GST council and the NITI Aayog, amongst others, should help realize the strategic objectives of ‘New India @ 75’.

The author also highlights that the justice delivery system in the country needs vast improvement. This requires speedy disposal of the pending cases, capacity building of subordinate courts and the use of technology in the judiciary. I would like to add that there is urgent need for a thoroughgoing reform of the police, the judicial system, and the electoral system which have been pending for a longtime. These reforms are essential for improving governance in the country.

The book is based on Sh Srinivas’s personal experiences of dealing with diverse issues in public administration. That is what makes it a useful read. I will now request the author to make his remarks thereafter I will invite the discussant to make their remarks.

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