The administrative services are said to be the permanent government in a democracy, while the elected ones are only for a certain period. In our country, region, religion, caste and many other social and cultural factors determine the outcome of election results. In such a scenario, sometimes non-qualified, undeserving and even criminal individuals get elected. […]

The administrative services are said to be the permanent government in a democracy, while the elected ones are only for a certain period. In our country, region, religion, caste and many other social and cultural factors determine the outcome of election results. In such a scenario, sometimes non-qualified, undeserving and even criminal individuals get elected. The lack of an enlightened political class creates enough room for the bureaucracy to take undue advantage and rule the roost.

We inherited the bureaucratic system set up by the British rulers to rule its enslaved population. This has led the bureaucracy in free India to become a problem rather than being a solution. In the history of independent India, there have been very few examples of top political bosses who had the sagacity to handle the bureaucratic setup properly for the benefit of governance. Among the present generation of leadership, PM Narendra Modi has the apt understanding to handle this system. His level of knowledge of all strata of society, his journey from a chaiwala to Prime Minister which covered almost all walks and terrains of life, and his connection with ordinary people have empowered him with a proper understanding of the functioning of the system in totality. With such leadership at the helm of affairs, the bureaucracy works efficiently and effectively, not out of fear, but from the fact that the boss knows more and better ways to perform their tasks. As a result, the North and South Blocks of the Central Secretariat annexe are more vigilant and mobile today.

Prime Minister Modi has had the skill to deal with the bureaucracy right from the beginning of his stint as the Chief Minister of Gujarat. Only a few of his fellow politicians in Gujarat could master it while they were in his proximity. One of them is Home Minister Amit Shah and the other Praful Patel, Administrator of Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Daman and Diu and Lakshadweep. Patel was Home Minister in his cabinet after Amit Shah had been framed in fake encounter cases by the then Congress government at the Centre. 

Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Daman and Diu are union territories which were handed over by the Portuguese to India in the late 1960s. Since then, thousands of crores of rupees have been spent as special grants from the Centre each year as Dadra and Nagar Haveli is a tribal-dominated area and Daman is dominated by an OBC population.

Before Patel took over, the Administrator of these areas used to be a senior IAS officer of the UT cadre. Both UTs were under special financial packages and incentives set up for industries to generate employment for the tribal and OBC youth. Half a dozen IAS/IPS officers were put on deputation in each of the UTs and a separate secretariat was created, to run a territory smaller than a taluka, when compared with other states. A huge chunk of the funds was spent on the salaries of the administration. However, the funds were squandered without proper planning and used for personal gain by the bureaucracy and administration along with the elected public representatives. Meanwhile, the tribal and marginalised populations remained underprivileged, uneducated, and without proper road infrastructure and healthcare facilities. 

In the year 2016, Praful Patel was appointed as Administrator of Daman and Diu and Dadra and Nagar Haveli. It has been almost five years since then. The UTs are now unified as one single union territory, with a centralised secretariat in Daman. The layers of the administration have been halved, leading to big savings on recurring expenditures. The whole UT is almost corruption-free today.

Huge development work is being done with the quality and utility of them ensured. The cost of capital-intensive projects has been brought down as there is no corruption and projects are sanctioned by an online tendering process. The best part is that the quality of work has improved, and the Silvassa-Bhilad road connecting to the national highway and roads in Daman is an example of that. Moreover, flyovers are being constructed wherever needed. The administration is working round-the-clock for the welfare of the tribal districts of the UTs. 

Silvassa and Daman, once infamous for its rampant corruption by bureaucrats and politicians, breathes easy today. The public is happy because the system is working for their welfare and their voice is heard. The Administrator visits the projects every month for progress reviews and quality checks. The Collector and his associate officers speak to locals to ensure whether they are getting the benefits of public health, better education, efficient teachers, water supply and roads on a regular basis. Some of the government schools in Daman and Silvassa are better than world-class private schools. The whole UT is open defecation-free, each house has a toilet and the «Har Ghar, Nal Se Jal” scheme is under implementation.

Another major development in these UTs have been the medical and engineering colleges. A state of the art 100-bed medical college was added to the existing Vinoba Bhave Hospital which has more than 5000 in the OPD each day. Given the tiny population of 2.5 lakhs, this shows the efficiency of the medical staff and the belief of the people in government facilities. The Silvassa medical college is also a huge gift for the tribal-dominated DNH, as people there can now see their kids become doctors two to three years from now. The first engineering college has also been sanctioned and will be operational in a few years.

Hundreds of other development projects are being implemented within the UTs. The underground electrical lines in Silvassa and Daman, the skywalk chowpati at Silvassa, and seafront development in Daman and Diu are a few worth mentioning here. The UTs are also a tourist destination and these projects will attract more tourists and add to the income of the locals as a result.

These are the same places where the bureaucracy was treated like gods. Now, under able political leadership, they are the servants of the people. The ring road project of Silvassa, which had been halted for sixteen years, was completed within a year. Illegal occupation of public properties by politicians was rampant, and action was taken against that. The administration removed encroachers, although a few of them were ruling party leaders and people used to think the bigwigs are untouchable.

Sheer willpower has changed the scenario of development and the level of governance in these UTs. Remember, this transformation has come with the same set of people, officers and bureaucracy. People are full of praise for them now whereas they thought that bureaucrats are superhuman and can’t be held responsible for their misdeeds and corruption. But the termination of many officials, the forced retirement of medically unfit officials and voluntary retirement of lazy officials have brought a sense of optimism among locals.

In a nutshell, the moral here is that able leadership can prove the theory of “bureaucrats always overweigh politicians” wrong in a big way. Patel has proved that if you know the core of your business, the bureaucracy will be your slave. Politicians are not one and the same; some people know the art of governance and how to implement it, and Patel is one of them, He is still in his late 50s and has a long political career ahead. He belongs to Gujarat and has served Gujarat as a politician except for these five years.

Today, Gujarat also needs such leaders, who can tame the bureaucracy and get the house in order, especially as Gujarat is seeing its crime rate increase with each passing day and corruption become a big area of concern. The Revenue and Police departments also need to be made to work for the welfare, safety and security of the people, not for indulging in the land-grabbing business.

The turnaround of the two UTs and three districts is evidence of good governance and corruption-free administration in all departments. All this has been possible due to the able leadership of the administrator of the UTs and his team of officers who are working tirelessly day and night. This is the Modi model of governance” which can administer good governance with the same set of officials and bureaucrats.