'Citizens first', says PM unveiling grandiose e-governance plans

Prime Minister Narendra Modi Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday said the government would try to provide a clutch of citizens' services electronically as part of the government's efforts to put in place ''an effective, accountable and transparent'' administration.

Harping again on his theme of 'good governance', Modi said his team would make governance simple and effective in a phased manner without putting a huge burden on the people.

He outlined the plan as his administration observed Christmas as 'good governance day' - not in any way to celebrate a festival perceived as Christian and therefore alien; but to mark the birthday of Bharatiya Janata Party veteran and widely respected former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.

Incidentally, observing Vajpayee's birthday on Christmas follows the Gregorian calendar, which is a purely Christian creation, and not under the Hindu calendar, where dates are very different.

Vajpayee was conferred with India's highest civilian award, the Bharat Ratna, on his 90th birthday.

The prime minister listed the digital India initiative, doing away with over 175 outdated laws and self-certification of documents as key initiatives of his government in the last six months to bring his administration ''closer to people.''

Modi, who visited his constituency of Varanasi on Thursday, also said Indian Railways would not be privatised, but private investment would be used to mod­ernise and grow the organisation.

Commissioning the expansion of railway diesel locomotive works in Varanasi, he said the first charge on the government's resources would be that of the people, with a major chunk going towards providing education and healthcare.

He asked railway employees to make India self-reliant in modern services and manufacturing, like the farmers have made the country self-sufficient in grain production.

Making a strong pitch for producing good teachers in large numbers, Modi said the whole world is looking to India with great expectations, ''but we are not ready''. He advocated the introduction of a five-year training course after schooling those aspiring to a career in teaching.

He said the country should aim to export top-class teachers. Launching a mission for teachers trai­ning in the name of Bharat Ratna awardee Madan Mohan Malaviya, Modi said an environment needs to be created where children aspire to become teachers after 10th or 12th and can be trained in this area.

''There is a dearth of good teachers. Even if you ask rich people who have crores of rupees, what they want, they will say they need good teachers. Even a driver says he needs good teachers,'' he said.

Modi announced the setting up four railway universities to create a pool of dedicated and trained railway personnel. He asked railway officers to turn the organisation into an engine of growth and the backbone of the economy.

Modi said as part of the good governance drive, his administration has adopted a 'citizen-first' approach as the guiding principle, and rolled out a massive digital India plan with an investment of over Rs1,75,000 crore to take governance to people's doorstep. Apart from the move to do away with over 175 outdated laws, self-certification of documents has been permitted to replace affidavits and attestation by officials, the PM said.