Game for new challenges
Two years down the line, two key Central Cabinet Ministers open up to share their views on development with the readers of The Hans India. How are...
Two years down the line, two key Central Cabinet Ministers open up to share their views on development with the readers of The Hans India. How are they going about their job and how do they plan to in future, and the challenges ahead are some of the aspects they shared.
The first one is the Railway Minister, Suresh Prabhu, who recently got elected from Andhra Pradesh to the Rajya Sabha for a second term and continues to hold the important portfolio of the Railways. The second one is the Union Urban Development Minister, M Venkaiah Naidu, who has now been handed over the key Information and Broadcasting Ministry too, on which the Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, banks a lot to take forward the agenda of the government to the people.
Both are key ministries not only from the government's but also from the people's view point. Here is what they got to say about their job and their goals which The Hans India elicited in response to its queries:
Suresh Prabhu's take:
"It is our Honorable Prime Minister's firm belief that Indian Railway has the potential to become the backbone of India's progress and economic development. This is the vision we all are working for at Indian Railways with you as our partner.
18 months ago, when I took over the reins of this great organisation called Indian Railways, I was faced with many challenges. I had the option of making small incremental changes or go beyond business as usual. I chose the latter."
Our Prime Minister asserted many times that our government's priority is the commonest of common man of the country and it is with this in mind, we work on improving the travel experience for our people. Transforming India through transforming Railways is my motto now. Suresh Prabhu, Railway Minister
On challenges ahead, he explains: "Bringing in systemic changes was the need of the hour (at the time of my take over). It was important to change the perception of Indian Railways from a slow moving behemoth to a responsive modern organisation.
It is satisfying for me to note that we have made some progress. A lot is still to be done. Our Prime Minister asserted many times that our government's priority is the commonest of common man of the country and it is with this in mind, we work on improving the travel experience for our people.
We have launched a host of initiatives aimed at this. Transforming India through transforming Railways is my motto now. I seek everyone's cooperation in this mega task." On some of the important achievements, he says: "Commissioned record 2,828 km of broad gauge lines which is 85% higher than 2009-14 average annual commissioning. 7.7 km lines were commissioned per day against 2009-14 average of 4.3 km Capital expenditure in 2015-16 was about Rs. 94,000 cr which is almost double the average annual capital expenditure over the previous five-year period of 2009-14.
Electrification of 1,730 km done in the last year is a huge jump over 2009-14 annual average of 1,184 km. A responsive 24x7 complaint resolution mechanism employed through the use of social media.
Cleanliness: Swachh Rail, Swachh Bharat campaign, Clean my Coach Service launched, third party cleanliness audits conducted for stations E-catering, E-wheelchair, E-bedroll facilities launched to ensure seamless availability and access to these facilities.
Ticketing: IRCTC capacity increased, Automatic ticket vending machines installed, cancellation of PRS tickets through cell phone launched, Vikalp scheme launched
Speed: India's first semi high speed train Gatimaan Express launched, trial run of Talgo coaches underway
N-E Connectivity: Barak Valley of Assam, Agartala, Mizoram and Manipur connected to broad gauge. High speed Wi-Fi launched at various stations with a target of 400 stations by 2018
Environment: A provision of 1% of total project cost made in all future projects to spend on environment protection measures, major thrust on solar and wind energy provided, traditional lights replaced by environment friendly LED lights
100% E-tendering implemented resulting in transparent and accountable procurement process."
Venkaiah Naidu’s take
The new Union Minister for Information and Broadcasting, Venkaiah Naidu, is ebullient over his shift. After all, he got to be so. Naidu did a commendable job in the first two crucial years of the NDA rule, going by the BJP sources.
Considering the numbers in the Rajya Sabha and the mood of the Opposition, particularly the Congress that wanted to divert the attention of the House and the people from its own follies and faultlines, it was no cake walk for him in managing the swinging moods.
I am guided by the principle of ‘Communication for Development of the Community and the Country,’ based on ‘Reform, Perform, Transform and Inform’ principle…It is important to ensure proper flow of information for broadening common man’s understanding of key policy initiatives M Venkaiah Naidu, new I&B Minister
As one look backs at the same, "it is a good feeling" he says that he could address the ruling party concerns effectively in those two years. Naidu was happy with the last budget session that could do good work in passing several important bills including the one on the Real Estate that brought cheer to people.
Now he says, summing up his incumbency as the Parliamentary Affairs Minister, "I have done a good job. That is it. If the yardstick of judgement is performance, it is all there for everyone to see". Naidu, who, on an earlier occasion, said he believed in the principle, as the Parliamentary Affairs Minister,
"I propose, You Oppose, Let the House Dispose (for the larger good of the country," has this to say now about his new responsibilities: "I perform (in the UrbanDevelopment Ministry as I make my own decision) and here I inform (youas to the government policies and programmes and I work with you (media) together".
Venkaiah Naidu hence, says any reports of demotion etc or any speculation over his shift to the I&B are totally uncalled for. The Prime Minister is a visionary leader. He has his priorities and goals clearly chalked out. I performed there and will do so to the best of my abilities here too."
In his interaction as the I&B Minister, Naidu was a bit frugal in his words but took to the task of the new Ministry quite seriously one could say when he advised the media not to speculate too much while reminding them that portfolios are given at the discretion of the Prime Minister.
On his new role and the challenges ahead Naidu said that "he will be guided by the principle of ‘Communication for Development of the Community and the Country.’ This is based on the basic principles of Reform, Perform, Transform and Inform.
The government is a Reservoir of Information relating to various aspects of a common man’s life. In this context, it is important to ensure proper flow of such information for broadening common man’s understanding of key policy initiatives of the government. This will facilitate the task of information empowerment, thereby creating an enabling environment for key stakeholders".
On whether the government would be in a position to convince people he says, "it is important to position various media units as credible brands for effectively serving the information needs of the people".
On how complicated it could be to do so easily, he is of the view that mainstreaming effective communication was important. He referred to the process of change ushered in by the Prime Minister to say "these changes touched upon the attitudes of key stakeholders thereby reorienting our approach and understanding towards the concept of development.
In order to achieve this goal, it is important to mainstream effective communication as an input to realise this change. Communication processes are critical for empowering people with information that would enable them to fulfill their aspirations.”
Well, both the Ministers have come out with "flying colours" in Modi's assessment so far. Both of them have their tasks cut. The Railway Minister is nearing the half-way mark in reaching his goals, while the Information and Broadcasting Minister, is a past master in handling information. And the entire Cabinet knows that Modi's watching their every step.