The Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh advised Government officials to win the “trust and confidence of the weakest sections of our people”.
Speaking to probationers of the Indian Administrative Service (IAS), 2005 batch, at his residence here today, the Prime Minister said the main challenge facing Government today was to improve the quality of service delivery at the village level. He urged the young officers to invest all their energies in improving the quality of life in rural areas and to sincerely implement the many initiatives of the Government in areas such as education, health, and rural infrastructure. In implementing programmes like the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme, Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan and the National Rural Health Mission, Dr Singh said special attention should be paid to the welfare of weaker sections.
The Prime Minister urged the probationers to acquire deeper understanding of their respective States and to take a longer term view of the challenges and opportunities before the Nation. Stressing the need to dwell deep into the process of nation building in a country of India’s size, diversity and complexity, he said, “The process of nation-building required the efficient and equitable management of the processes of change.”
Dr. Singh advised the probationers to protect the unity and integrity of the country and to maintain communal harmony. He also exhorted them to find efficient ways of tackling calamities and natural disasters. He said the Government must be better equipped in disaster management and in dealing with humanitarian crises posed by natural disasters and social and communal conflict.
The Prime Minister stressed the vital importance of the members of the IAS, the “steelframe of our governance system”, maintaining the highest standards of integrity, honesty and probity.
Following is the text of the Prime Minister’s address on the occasion:
“I am very happy to have this opportunity to meet you. Great responsibility vests on the shoulders of our Civil Services, particularly, the Indian Administrative Service. Ours is a large country characterised by great diversity, great complexity and the unity and integrity of India has to be the primary concern of all those involved in processes of governance. This does not mean that we should lose sight of the peculiar circumstances in which your respective States may be placed. I think ours is a unique administrative set up, it’s a federal set up and Services like the Indian Administrative Service perform, that twin combination of concern with local circumstances and at the same time, wider concern that these local problems are resolved in a manner which strengthens the bonds of unity and strengthens the nation’s integrity. Of all the Services in our country, the Indian Administrative Service has performed its role with greatest efficiency, integrity and commitment to national values.
I said that ours is a country of great diversity and great complexity. We have in our country religions – all the great religions represented in our society. We have also large number of groups of people who are under privileged and who have been discriminated against for centuries and when the Constitution of India was being drawn up, the founding fathers of our Republic took it upon themselves to make up for those centuries of inequity by giving them a privileged position when it comes to admission to Civil Services are concerned, when it comes to giving them a share in processes of governance through participation in the State Legislatures and Parliament. It is, therefore, very essential that our civil servants should be aware of the extreme complexity of managing an entire country of India’s diversity. I would, therefore, urge all of you that though you must specialize in acquiring a deep understanding of the problem faced by your respective States, you must also dwell deep into the whole process of nation-building in a country of India’s size, India’s diversity and India’s complexity.
I would also say that we are living in a world where human knowledge is growing at an unprecedented pace. Therefore, your stint at the academy cannot and should not involve an end of the thirst for acquisition of knowledge. I think our training modules now take into account that life has to be one long continuous process of learning and re-learning and therefore it is very important that this inquisitiveness, capacity to understand processes of change because as someone said the only constant thing in this complex world that we live, is change itself and change sometimes, produces very disturbing consequences. It benefits certain groups of people, it hurts certain groups of people and therefore, I think the whole process of nation-building involve efficient and equitable management of processes of change and you see the turbulence all around our country.
Our country has been growing at a handsome rate in the last 15 years ever since the reform programme was launched. Our growth rate has averaged above 6-6.5 per cent. In recent years, we have improved upon that performance. Our growth rate is now around 7.5-8 per cent and we can increase this growth rate and we need that growth because it is only in a rapidly expanding economy that we can find meaningful solutions to the problems of acute poverty, deprivation which still characterizes many parts of our country. And if growth is not there, the whole process of redistribution of incoming wealth becomes a zero-sum-game and when social processes become zero-sum-games, they give rise to great degree of anger, frustration and therefore we need this vibrant growth to provide the wherewithal in which redistributing processes can become a positive-sum-game and not a zero-sum-game. And therefore understanding of the process of growth, particularly paying attention to the need of rural development, paying particular attention to the delivery of basic social services such as health, education or the management to the municipal and panchayati raj institutions, all these are integral to our understanding of the processes of growth, processes of change and I sincerely hope that you will take permanent interest in all these processes of nation building.