The 21st Century has seen rapid changes in the technology and overall lifestyle of people. It has deeply impacted all spheres of our lives, including the way we interact, socializes, understand, and even administer or govern.
The governance system thus also evolved to include e-governance, digitalization, and technology-driven policy formulation. However, the pace at which it is evolving in India is much slower compared to other developed economies.
The present changes like a digital presentation of the Budget, and inclusion of satellite imagery for policy-impact-assessment, and policy-formulation are welcome steps. But are they sufficient for India to emerge as a future leader and Global Super Power?
Need for Technocratic Democratic System:
With rapid digitalization and advances in technology, it is indeed needed that the same is incorporated in the governance sector. One can then reasonably argue that the present democratic setup should evolve to include technocrats in the bureaucratic system. Greater participation of technocrats in governance will ensure that the challenges of democracy are timely addressed in innovative ways and the power of technology is leveraged to uplift all sections of society.
Greater financial inclusion, digital banking, digitalization of identity, and other government processes have ensured a large section of society- access to basic needs in easy steps. One Nation, One Ration Scheme, UDAN Scheme, and High-Speed Trains are all applaudable. It is time that India thinks about its future course of action, and its youths are mobilized to take the next step in change and innovation.
Greater participation of technocrats in the governance is needed to ensure that the tech-driven approach becomes the hallmark of Indian Policy Formulation and Implementation. The Finance Minister’s Announcement (Budget 2022-23) of National Tele-Counselling via collaboration of NIMHANS and IITB is indicative of the fact that the government is making efforts in the right direction.
Restructuring Civil Services:
The present system of civil services has seen little change in its organization over the last decades. It still follows a system that evolved in the pre-IT era. It thus needs rethinking and restructuring, in the form of dedicated civil servants for technology, to attract young brains into the system and then to make proper use of them. The needed restructuring will help retain some of the best minds in the country (who otherwise choose to migrate to other countries in search of better opportunities as drivers of change, or a better lifestyle).
Further, a dedicated civil service for technology would encourage better innovation and implementation of technology-driven solutions in the country at large. Dedicated executives to search and implement technology-driven solutions will ultimately help in better adoption of technology at the grassroots level. Such a service will put at the disposal of young minds, the resources and liberty to experiment at smaller levels via pilot projects.
These technocratic bureaucrats will also serve as a point of contact for millions of enthusiastic young minds who have ideas but lack proper guidance. The appointment of such officers will help accelerate the development of Scientific Temperament among masses at large.
At senior levels, these officers will be in better positions (via their experience at junior levels) to understand the real hurdles in the implementation of policies and will thus be better suited to provide sound inputs for valuable resources.
Officers at all levels as technocrats will help in better urban planning, ecosystem management, climate change impact mitigation, and disaster aversion (and not just management). They will serve as India’s Eyes and Brain in ensuring scientific and ecologically sustainable development in all sectors. It will create the technocratic system that the county and world are in dire need of.
Ensuring Youth Participation:
A country is shaped by its youths. The Indian Dream of Being a Super Power Surpassing China and the USA is cited many times. A quick check reveals that it still is a long way to go, and yet, India exports lots of its talents to the west, or rightly put, loses much of its human capital to it.
The study of developed economies indicates that industrialization and rapid development precedes economic development. These in turn are propelled by advancement in Space and Defence Sectors. India has gained a significant upper hand in developing indigenous technology in the space sector, may it be NavIC or PSLVs. Its Defence Sector and Missiles are now sought after by smaller nations (Philippines Brahmos deal). These (coupled with young demography) are the precursors to self-reliance and indigenous technology development.
India thus is at the cross-road where it can leap to be a developed economy in upcoming decades, or lose this golden opportunity and continue to struggle for its fair share in the world economy and international relations.
The way out is to have our focus right, and acknowledge that the country needs indigenous technology, and for it, we need to retain and provide ample opportunities and resources to our youths to experiment with. We need to rope in universities and institutions across the country to focus on new research and set up government agencies and technocratic set up to help connect young minds (in or out of universities) with the right resources to experiment, develop, and deploy innovative solutions in all walks of life.
Restructuring the Civil Services for better inclusion of technocrats with suitable resources to help mobilize Youths (to drive the country’s development) can be the first step to start with.