PM Narendra Modi asks secretaries for big-ticket ideas, says resource crunch no excuse

Don’t cite lack of resources for not coming up with big developmental ideas; bring in policies to generate employment; point out shortcomings in present policies.

These are some of the messages that secretaries of multiple ministries got following a four-hour meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi Saturday for discussing governance issues and challenges.

A source present at the meeting said the Prime Minister encouraged the top bureaucrats to come up with out-of-the box ideas even if these did not pertain to their own ministries.

“The PM said lack of resources was no more an excuse to not come up with big ideas that would benefit the larger interest of the people,” said the source.

More than two dozen secretaries expressed their views and shared their feedback with the Prime Minister.

The meeting, at 7, Lok Kalyan Marg, was also attended by National Security Advisor Ajit Doval, Principal Secretary to Prime Minister PK Mishra and Cabinet Secretary Rajiv Gauba.

During the meeting, a couple of secretaries drew attention to “populist” schemes announced by some states, saying these were economically unviable and would hurt the states’ long-term interests. Sources said Modi encouraged everyone to speak their mind; one secretary cited the example of Sri Lanka with respect to the “populist schemes”.

Sri Lanka is currently experiencing the worst economic crisis in its history, with long lines for fuel, cooking gas and essentials in short supply, and long hours of power cuts.

Praising “coordinated work” by multiple departments during the pandemic, PM Modi said secretaries should act as secretaries of the government of India and not just of their departments.

This was the ninth such meeting of the prime minister with secretaries since 2014.

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