Debating India

"Implement new deal to rural India"

Saturday 21 May 2005, by KUMAR*Vinay

Manmohan tells Collectors

- District Collectors are critical agents for good governance

- Demand for security of tenure valid

NEW DELHI: Describing District Collectors as "critical agents" for ensuring a new deal to rural India, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Friday asked them to see that the objectives of the Bharat Nirman programme were met.

The Rs. 1,74,000-crore rural infrastructure programme, announced by the Centre on Tuesday, aims at providing 100 per cent connectivity to villages by road, electricity and telecommunication and ensuring total coverage under safe water supply by 2009.

"You are the critical agents for ensuring that the new deal genuinely transforms rural lives and livelihoods," Dr. Singh told the 264 Collectors assembled here for a two-day conference, which concluded on Friday.

The Collectors had become agents of change, of good governance and of development-oriented administration. Asking them to promote innovation, improve service delivery and enhance public-private partnerships, he said they needed to work with the people and Panchayati Raj institutions.

Unique opportunity

"You have a unique opportunity today in mediating social action for development. The structures of Panchayati Raj are in place but they need to be infused with vitality. These organisations enable you to mobilise collective action for development. India’s strategic resource is its people. India has a billion opportunities in its people and you must see them so," he told the Collectors.

Innovation fund

Dr. Singh announced the setting up of a fund to promote innovation in governance at the grass roots and institution of national awards for outstanding public service.

The Prime Minister told the Collectors that security of tenure at the district level demanded by many of them was "valid and just." It was essential for fixing accountability, he said.

Cautioning the Collectors of the existence of a society that was becoming increasingly politicised and vigilant, Dr. Singh asked them to take up the challenge and be innovative to look for new opportunities.

"Be sensitive enough to contribute to creating a just society. Be modest and lead decent but simple lifestyles eschewing conspicuous consumption and extravagant living. Have concern for those who work for you and inspire them through example." Dr. Singh said.

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