Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday said hardcore politics of agitation were not as relevant as in the past and called for transformation of 115 “aspirational districts” to achieve social justice and improve the country’s ranking in the Human Development Index (HDI).
Inaugurating the National Legislators Conference in the Central Hall of Parliament here, Modi also pitched for posting young and motivated IAS officers in these 115 districts for quicker results.
The Prime Minister said he was against classifying the 115 districts, which lag in specific development parameters, as backward.
“Strategically, there has been a need to fine-tune our development model,” he said.
The Prime Minister said the traditional concept of social justice has been in the context of the condition of society but there is another aspect of it.
“If one village has electricity but the neighbouring one does not, is it not social justice that it should too have electricity. The principle of social justice inspires us for this,” Modi said.
He said development in 115 aspirational district was social justice.
“If all children in our area get education, it is a step towards social justice. If all houses have electricity, it is a step towards social justice. It is a concept of social justice in a new form in accordance with the vision of the great men who sat in this chamber,” Modi said.
He said the elected representatives can choose one area of work and things will start to change.
“There is no need of new budget. The present resources, manpower… if they work in mission mode, then it can lead to results. Work with dedication for one year and it will change the picture of the state and the country,” he said.
Modi said India was ranked about 130 in HDI.
“If there is improvement in these 115 districts, it will automatically lead to improvement in the country’s rankings,” he said.
He said an atmosphere of competitive cooperative federalism has been created in the country and states lagging behind in rankings are facing a push from their residents.
Modi said there was a time about 20 years ago when hardcore round-the-clock politics — of agitation, of struggle, of statements — would count but time has changed and it is seen if a politician comes to the aid of people.
He said the structure and awareness of society now is forcing politicians to move away from hardcore politics. “People see who is with them in their hour of need, who is there to bring a change in their lives. This makes a big difference.”
He said when the government identified 115 aspirational districts based on comprehensive study and 48 parameters, it found that a district that was doing badly in 5-10 aspects was doing badly in most others.
He said that within a state one district surges ahead of the other despite having similar resource allocation.
“Resources is not a problem, good governance is a problem, coordination is a problem, focused activity is a problem. If we focus on these, we can bring a big change.”
Modi said the collectors of these 115 districts were called for a meeting and he noticed that they were mostly above 40.
“Normally, district collectors are 27-30 year old. They are young IAS officers. But when I met district collectors of these 115 districts, about 80 per cent were above 40. Some of them were 45 also. At that age, the officer is concerned about education of his children, being posted in a big city. Mostly, they are promotees of state cadre,” he said.
Modi said the apparent thinking is since a district is backward, anyone can be posted there just to run it.
“If we all decide that in these 115 districts, we will post a fresh, energetic performance-oriented officer for the next few years, you will see that things will start to change. I am talking to the Chief Ministers. Give him (the officer) the challenge,” he added.
He urged the elected representatives of the aspirational districts to set targets for themselves.
The two-day conference on the theme “We for Development” is seeing participation of legislators from across the country as also Speakers of several assemblies.
Several union ministers and leaders from opposition parties attended the inaugural function.
In her remarks, Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan called for efforts to reach targets of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by the 75th year of India’s Independence.
She said Parliament had already discussed SDGs on four different occasions and state assemblies should also take a lead to discuss them.