New Delhi: Enunciating his vision to rapidly transform India, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday said there is a need to change laws, eliminate unnecessary procedures and speed up processes to go beyond "mere incremental progress".
"If India is to meet the challenge of change, mere incremental progress is not enough. A metamorphosis is needed. That is why my vision for India is rapid transformation, not gradual evolution," he said at the first 'Transforming India' Lecture organised by the NITI Aayog here.
Stressing on the need to bring changes through transformation of governance, Modi said it cannot happen with an administrative system of the 19th century.
"A transformation of governance cannot happen without a transformation in mindset and a transformation in mindset cannot happen without transformative ideas," he added.
"We have to change laws, eliminate unnecessary procedures, speed up processes and adopt technology. We cannot march through the 21st century with the administrative systems of the 19th century," he said.
With his entire Cabinet in attendance, Modi said the change has to be for both external and internal reasons. Each country, he said, has its own experiences, resources and strengths.
"Thirty years ago, a country might have been able to look inward and find its own solutions. Today, countries are inter-dependent and inter-connected. No country can afford any longer to develop in isolation. Every country has to benchmark its activities to global standards, or else fall behind," he said.
Stating that change is also necessary for internal reasons, he said the younger generation is thinking and aspiring so differently that the government can no longer afford to remain rooted in the past.
The prime minister further said that fundamental changes in administrative mindsets usually occur through sudden shocks or crisis. With a stable democratic polity in India, special efforts will have to be made to force transformative changes, he added.
"As individuals, we may absorb new ideas by reading books or articles. Books open the windows of our minds. However, unless we brainstorm collectively, ideas remain confined to individual minds," he said.
Modi said there was a time when development was believed to depend on the quantity of capital and labour but today it depends as much on the quality of institutions and ideas. Early last year, a new institution was created, namely, the National Institution for Transforming India or NITI.
NITI was created as an evidence-based think tank to guide India's transformation, the prime minister said. NITI's functions, he said, include mainstreaming external ideas into government policies through collaboration with national and international experts. It also has to be the government's link to the world, outside experts and practitioners as well as be the instrument through which ideas from outside are incorporated into policy-making, Modi said.
Stating that often new ideas are heard and understood but not act upon them, because it is beyond individual capacity, he said, "If we sit together, we will have the collective force to convert ideas into action. "What we need is a collective opening of our minds, to let in new, global perspectives. To do this, we have to absorb new ideas collectively rather than individually. It requires a concerted effort," he said.
The Centre and the state governments have a long administrative tradition that combines indigenous and external ideas from the country's past, he added.
"This administrative tradition has served India well in many ways. Above all, it has preserved democracy and federalism, unity and integrity, in a country of glorious diversity. These are not small achievements. Yet, we now live in an age where change is constant and we are variables," he said.
The prime minister said that since taking over he has been holding structured brainstorming sessions with bankers, police officers and government secretaries and any ideas emerging from them are being incorporated into policies. "These efforts have been to tap ideas from inside. The next step is to bring in ideas from outside. Culturally, Indians have always been receptive to ideas from elsewhere," he said.
With this in mind, the Transforming India Lecture Series is being organised, he noted. "We will draw the best from the wisdom and knowledge of eminent persons, who changed, or influenced change in the lives of many, to make their nation a better place on the planet," he said.
The prime minister further said that "detailed and frank feedback" from all attending the lecture will help improve this process. Seeking names of experts and panelists from inside and outside India, he said all government secretaries will conduct a follow up discussion in a week's time.
"The purpose is to convert ideas that emerge in today's session into specific action points relevant to each group. Wherever possible, I request the ministers also to participate in these sessions," he added.