Modi slams ‘incremental progress’

Emphasizing upon “rapid transformation,” Prime Minister Narendra Modi has called for “metamorphosis” for effective change. He was speaking at the Transforming India Lecture. The lecture was delivered by Singapore Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam on Tuesday.

“If India is to meet the challenge of change, mere incremental progress is not enough,” Modi said. “A metamorphosis is needed.”

This is the second time in a month that the Prime Minister has expressed his displeasure over incremental progress which, till now, has been the leitmotif of his government’s economic policy. He said that “my vision for India is rapid transformation, not gradual evolution.”

He went on to say, “The transformation of India cannot happen without a transformation of governance. A transformation of governance cannot happen without a transformation in mindset. A transformation in mindset cannot happen without transformative ideas.”

We have to change laws, eliminate unnecessary procedures, speed up processes, and adopt technology, Modi said. “We cannot march through the twenty first century with the administrative systems of the nineteenth century.”

Fundamental changes in administrative mindsets usually occur through sudden shocks or crisis, he said, pointing out that India is fortunate to be a stable democratic polity. “In the absence of such shocks, we have to make special efforts to force ourselves to make transformative changes. As individuals, we may absorb new ideas by reading books or articles.”

However, unless we brainstorm collectively, ideas remain confined to individual minds, the Prime Minister said. “We often hear of new ideas and understand them. But we do not act upon them, because it is beyond our individual capacity. 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 that he has been personally participating in structured brainstorming sessions with bankers, police officers, and with Secretaries to government. The ideas coming from those sessions are being incorporated into policy.

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.

“This is the purpose of the Transforming India Lecture Series,” Modi said. It is a series which we will attend, not as individuals but as part of a team who can collectively make change happen.