The inseparable link of ‘Surajya’ (Good Governance) to social welfare and inclusive development is underlined in the Indian scriptures. Highlighting this intrinsic relationship, Kautilya’s Arthashastra maintains, “In the happiness of his subjects lies his happiness; in their welfare his welfare, whatever pleases him he shall not consider as good, but whatever makes his subject happy, he shall consider good”.
The concept of Raj Dharma, the code of conduct or the rule of law that governed the actions of the ruler, reflects the preponderant duty of the ruler to ensure the good governance to the people in ancient Indian civilization.
Taking a cue from ancient Indian traditions, PM Narendra Modi highlighted that every Indian should have access to good governance and positive results of development. It is through the incorporation of this idea of good governance, embedded on ‘self-reliance’, that a ‘New India’ is being envisioned. Reflecting on the initiatives of the Modi government, what measures have been taken to sustain the legacy of ‘Surajya’ for aiding the progress of a ‘New India’?
‘Surajya’ as a Politics of Performance
From Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s emphasis on the party’s commitment to pluralism and tolerance to PM Modi’s commitment and conviction towards ‘Politics of Performance’, the concept of governance has gained new momentum in India. Over the past 6 years, the government under the leadership of PM Modi has launched as well as effectively implemented a range of socio-economic welfare schemes aimed at efficiency, equitability, inclusiveness, accountability and transparency.
Continuing with its commitment, BJP has dedicated a Good Governance cell, headed by Dr Vinay Sahasrabuddhe. The cell is the building block and nurturer of good governance which is playing an instrumental role in the progress of our country.
The edifice of a ‘New India’ is built on the motto of ‘maximum governance, minimum government, and ‘Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas, Sabka Vishwas’. To achieve its objective of good governance several schemes, such as Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (1,52,16,099 houses constructed for poor), Pradhan Mantri Fasal Beema Yojana (over 5 crore farmers insured), Ayushman Bharat (1,23,71,217 beneficiaries), Atal Pension Yojana (more than 22,34,57,000 beneficiaries), Mission Indradhanush (3,61,00,000 children vaccinated), Soil Health Cards (22,41,01170 distributed), Beti Bachao- Beti Padhao, Digital India, Make in India, among others have been successful in boosting the socio-economic level of the country by directly impacting on the lives of people and generating progressive opportunities for the people of the country.
Further, the Modi government also took measures to not only simplify procedures and processes for a more transparent and faster system but also removing cumbersome and out-dated legislations. For instance, the government moved the court for social justice and women empowerment by legislating a law on Triple Talaq.
Similarly, within 70 days of coming to power for the second term, the government took a historic step towards fuller integration of Jammu and Kashmir with India by abrogating Article 370. In addition, expansion and utilisation of technology for the welfare of the people in the State by making the system responsive was given priority. In this direction, a new grievance redressal portal, Jammu and Kashmir Integrated Grievance Redress and Monitoring System (JK-IGRAMS), linked to the Union government’s grievance mechanism was launched as a step towards gaining the trust of the people.
There is no denying the fact that an effective grievance redressal mechanism is one of the pillars of the good governance system and is the top priority of the Modi government.
‘Surajya’ as a Politics of Responsibility
Good governance not only means that the welfare measures reach the intended beneficiaries, but are also utilitarian in nature. In this respect, good governance measures addressed the key health challenges, such as, lack of awareness among women regarding menstrual hygiene and also increased the availability of sanitary napkins at low cost, thus addressing a health concern which was once considered a social taboo.
Under Stree Swabhimaan Yojana, Common Service Centres (CSC) provides affordable, reliable and eco-friendly sanitary napkins to adolescent girls and women in rural areas.
The utilitarian nature of the concept of ‘surajya’ found manifestation during the COVID-19 pandemics. For instance, while Digital India transformed India through the power of technology, bridged the digital divide and maintained the supply chain during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) ensured that the benefit of various welfare measures reached the intended beneficiaries, removed ghost beneficiaries and streamlined subsidies.
Additionally, the Modi government became an ‘agent of change’ by boosting entrepreneurship and accelerating innovation in the economy. The effectiveness of such policies can be measured from the fact that innovative entrepreneur in the manufacturing sector utilized their skills to increase the production of essential medical items including not only PPE kits, masks but also ventilators, previously imported from other countries during the COVID-19 crisis.
In these testing times, the welfare initiatives were strengthened manifolds. Taking inspiration from Modi’s vision of good governance, the notion of ‘Politics of Responsibility’ has been promoted by the BJP Good Governance Cell under the guidance of Dr Vinay Sahasrabuddhe. For instance, during the pandemic, the ‘Seva Rasoi’ volunteers, a community kitchen run by the BJP Good Governance Cell, worked for 50 days to ‘feed the needy’.
Out of the many such endeavours, the cell expanded the reach of essential services to the residents of ChakChilla village, situated 8 kilometres from the Delhi Assembly, residing near Yamuna River. The volunteers of ‘Seva Rasoi’ travelled 15 minutes by boat from Yamuna Khadar in order to reach Chak Chilla village and made sure that good quality, hygienic and hot food reached the villagers. Apart from food, the volunteers provided masks as well as sanitary napkins for girls, hence promoted community welfare.
No doubt ideas, experience and expertise are essential elements of effective implementation of the concept of good governance to reach to people; however, it also requires, in the words of Dr. Vinay Shahasrabuddhe, a ‘Politics of Responsibility’ on part of all and ‘creative governance’ for the sustenance of ‘Surajya’!