With NDA Government facing criticism of “rehashing” old schemes, a top PMO official said no idea is entirely new and its origin can be traced in old ones but what distinguishes it is how effectively a programme is applied to a particular situation.
Stating that initiatives including Swachh Bharat and Jan Dhan Yojana were “path breaking and ambitious” but were dubbed by critics as “basically new names”, P K Mishra, Additional Principal Secretary in the PMO, cited the example of noted economist Amartya Sen’s concept of entitlement and suggested it was similar to observations made decades earlier by an official of erstwhile Mysore State.
Sen, a Nobel laureate, has been critical of Modi government’s policies.
Addressing inaugural session of second National Symposium on Excellence in Training here, Mishra said the initiatives taken by Modi government required “highly motivated and competent” personnel for ensuring “effective implementation”.
“It is sometimes pointed out that these programmes or schemes are not new, they are basically new names. I would like to point out that no idea can be entirely new.
“Ideas evolve over years, innovations and any new idea, so-called new idea, its origin can always be traced to something in the past,” he observed.
Referring to Sen’s concept of Entitlement, the bureaucrat said the economist had developed it with “extremely insightful” study of Bengal famine.
But, Mishra added, the Mysore State Diwan had in his book published “sometime between 1915 and 1920” too had explained “how during drought and famine, it is not the shortage of food but lack of purchasing power which affects people”. The Diwan though had not used the word entitlement in his book, the official said.
“The point I am making is one can trace any idea in earlier ideas. But what distinguishes the current efforts or the new initiatives is how an idea, whether in the form of a scheme or programme, can be effectively applied to a particular situation,” he added.
Mishra also made a strong pitch for application of three “distinctive aspects” of transparency, speed and effective implementation in governance.
Underscoring need for human resource development, he said it was the same factor that had propelled economic development in East Asian countries between 1960s and 80s.
The official also underscored use technology for effective implementation of schemes of like direct benefit transfer, Digital India or Smart City.
“We need to use technology not in the sense of high-level technological equipment, but technology at the grass roots-level also will make the schemes more effective. So, all these pose lot of challenges to training institutes,” he said.
Mishra also underlined the need for training people at the district and village levels as he noted capacity building training of those who are actually interacting with people is extremely important.
“It is not difficult to say, nobody will disagree, we need transparency, we need objectively but how exactly people will be imbued with the not only capacity, but the incentive to adopt these approaches and that is a big challenge,” he added.
Besides Mishra, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Resident Co-ordinator Yuri Afansiev also addressed the session.