Chief Minister of Odisha who crowned himself with glory and his party Biju Janata Dal (BJD) by winning elections for the State Assembly for a record fifth time interacted with his Ministers on 12th July 2019 and strongly recommended for adoption of five Ts- Transparency, Technology, Team spirit, Time and Transformation- for making governance effective, good and people centric. The five Ts are expanded versions of three Ts - Transparency, Technology, Team spirit- which he has been emphasizing since long. It is quite striking and exceptionally note worthy that Naveen Patnaik’s style of governance generating positive transformation has been reflected upon by illustrious media personalities who in some of their sensitive write ups have emphatically drawn national attention to this redeeming aspect of Naveen Patnaik’s four decade old rule over Odisha.
A representative example of such a write up under the caption “Beyond Manufactured Identities” authored by Shri Rajesh Ramachandran, Editor in Chief of the Tribune newspaper published from Chandigarh and published on 21st June 2019 is worth analyzing. Shri Ramachandran observed that, “This election underscores with a great amount of finality the ineffectiveness of identity politics” and interrogated with a great deal of sensitivity by asking “Is it time to ring down the curtain on the cynical, manipulative, manufactured identity politics?”. He then persuasively and convincingly remarked that, “Naveen Patnaik has never practised the politics of caste or communal polarisation, nor does he belong to a numerically significant caste group, nor does Odisha have a sizeable Muslim population. Yet, he wins election after election defeating the BJP twice. That ought to be the new normal in Indian politics: victory for transformational politics.”
It testifies to Shri Naveen Patnaik’s scheme of politics and governance the essential and inherent aspect of which is positive transformation. He explicitly adde, underlined and recognized that five Ts along with T representing transformational dimension must be the categorical imperatives for Ministers for implementing numerous policies of the Government centered around people and their welfare and empowerment. In doing so he has reaffirmed his own wholesome articulation while accepting the Ideal Chief Minister award in 2018 that “,.....election is not important, but change and transformation is important. If you love your people, you don't fight for elections, you fight for change and transformation.“
Therefore, T which stands for transformation is of enormous importance in ensuring effective governance which is inclusive, open, caring and empowering. The father of the discipline of management Peter Drucker wrote an illuminating article in 1994 under the caption “The Age of Social Transformation” and insightfully observed “No century in recorded history has experienced so many social transformations and such radical ones as the twentieth century. “He also noted with rare insight that “Indeed, if this century proves one thing, it is the futility of politics. Even the most dogmatic believer in historical determinism would have a hard time explaining the social transformations of this century as caused by the headline-making political events, or the headline-making political events as caused by the social transformations. But it is the social transformations, like ocean currents deep below the hurricane-tormented surface of the sea, that have had the lasting, indeed the permanent, effect. They, rather than all the violence of the political surface, have transformed not only the society but also the economy, the community, and the polity we live in. The age of social transformation will not come to an end with the year 2000--it will not even have peaked by then.”
In fact two and half decades before Peter Drucker stated that transformation would not have picked by 2000 we are experiencing the tsunami of transformation due to spectacular developments in the field of electronics and their applications to all fields of human endeavor. Therefore, T representing transformation and in combination with transparency, time management, team spirit, and technology captures the vital spirit of our age marked by unprecedented change. Transformation caused by promoting welfare of people, ensuring human security, empowering women and widely adopting information technology heralds a new dawn marked by the vibrant spirit of aspirational society at the core which remain the youth who constitute significant component of our population and who can reap demographic dividend. It means good, responsive and accountable governance.
The emphasis given by Shri Naveen Patnaik on transformation is evocative of Mahatma Gandhi’s challenging assertion, a few months before independence, that Swaraj(independence) should be transformed to Suraj(Good Governance). In fact Shri Patnaik intends to transform the impressive mandate of people secured by his party Biju Janata Dal to effectively implement programmes meant for people. That is why during his interactions with his Ministers on 12th July he appealed them to keenly involve themselves in the implementation of those programmes, scrutinize their effective operationalisation at the grassroots level, inspect offices without prior intimation and ensure that real beneficiaries of those programmes get their legitimate due without any hindrances. He also advised the Ministers that they should not confine themselves to their offices and reach out to people and take appropriate and strict action in case there are irregularities in implementation of government schemes. He also appealed to them to document the erroneous implementation of Government schemes and inform the Government about it. His constant refrain that they should go to people, find out from them if Government programmes meant for them are really befitting them or not underline his emphasis on people centered governance.
The T in five Ts connoting Transformation has a huge implication for positive and progressive change in society, politics and public life. Huge challenges are expected to make it a reality. The communal polarization in the country and spread of bigotry and religious division has set a trend for majoritarianism which is against the idea of India embodied in our Constitution. We need to transform this trend by invoking constitutional values and in this context Shri Naveen Patnaik’s historic suggestion that non-violence should be added in the preamble of the Constitution assumes critical significance for peaceful transformation of society.
The bold vision of a poverty free Odisha by 2024 constitutes a transformational vision which is an economic possibility and is a doable objective by establishing peace, security and stability. It would mean transformation of Swaraj to Suraj Therefore, while complimenting Shri Patnaik for making transformation a key complement of governance and development agenda we need to address enormous challenges to make it a reality.
- The author has served as Officer on Special Duty and Press Secretary to President of India late Shri K R Narayanan and had a tenure as Director in Prime Minister’s Office and Joint Secretary in Rajya Sabha Secretariat. Views expressesd above are in his personal capacity.