Five T based governance in Odisha
Naveen Patnaik's governance was based on a Five T Policy. These T's - technology, transparency, timeliness, team spirit and transformation, together produced a sixth T - trust among the people.
Recently in New Delhi, during an interaction with Shri Harish Khare, former Media Advisor to the former Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh and former Editor in Chief of the Tribune, I explained the innovative idea of "Mo Sarkar".
My government, conceptualized and operated by the Chief Minister of Odisha, Naveen Patnaik, employed the Five Ts - Technology, Transparency, Timeliness, Team spirit and Transformation - for the purpose of making governance more deeply people-centric. I attempted to drive home the idea that Mo Sarkar - based on the five Ts - embodies the vision of Mahatma Gandhi, who underlined the point during the freedom struggle that people are the real masters, and government employees, as representatives of the people, as well as ministers, are their servants. Adding further, I stated that Shri Patnaik celebrates the supremacy of people over employees and ministers who are entrusted with responsibilities to serve the people and not lord it over them.
I told Shri Khare that Shri Patnaik, through the Five Ts and Mo Sarkar ensured people’s access to the services of the government without hassle and obstruction; officers, staff, and ministers manning the machinery of governance were strictly directed to treat people visiting government offices with dignity and decency, and take up their problems with empathy-based professionalism. When I persuaded him to recognise the seminal point that decent and dignified treatment of people in government offices, combined with the handling of their problems with humanity and professionalism, would lead to Transformation which is represented by the last T in the five Ts, he paused and said that the Five Ts should be expanded to include another T, i.e. Trust. Shri Khare’s cogent argument is that in twenty-first-century India, there is a massive trust deficit between the people and the government, and so, another T representing Trust should be added to the five Ts to neutralise the alarming decline of trust between the people and the government.
As our interaction on Mo Sarkar based on Five Ts and Shri Khare’s striking suggestion that it should have another T, Trust, became more absorbing and thought provoking, I recalled the findings of a young media personality, Shri Sampad Patnaik of Indian Express. He shared with me his telephone conversations with around 80 people who visited government offices and were contacted by the Chief Minister and the Chief Minister’s office to find out from them the kind of treatment they received in those offices, and if their grievances were dealt with by officials properly or not. Most of them emotionally stated that for the first time in their lives they felt that at least there is a government now in Odisha coming forward and listening to them and approaching them to get an account of the behaviour meted out to them by the officials in government offices, and the way their problems were dealt with in those offices. Those eighty people believed that the government is sensitive enough to call them on the telephone, after their visit to government offices, and give a patient hearing to get to know their experiences in the hands of officers. They were of the opinion that they had never ever had such an experience earlier, and they found the telephone call from the Chief Minister’s office (CMO) as not only refreshing but also empowering. The sense of joy and empowerment they had because of a telephone call from the highest office of the state enhanced their huge trust level in the government. Their feeling of self-assuredness that the government is there to listen to them and monitor their grievances spoke volumes about their faith in the government.
Such a positive assessment by people on the five Ts underlines the point that the government of Odisha is not just a run of the mill government engaged in the routine process of governance. It is more than the Weberian sense of a legal formal arrangement, the legitimacy of which is derived from people’s mandate. Rather, it is a government which makes governance people-centric. The sense of security given to people by the Five T-based Mo Sarkar has generated the sixth T, the Trust, of the people in the Government. The sixth T, i.e. Trust, which Shri Harish Khare very thoughtfully and persuasively argued for inclusion in the five Ts has already been generated by the effective implementation of the five Ts covering numerous government departments.
The success of the Five T based Mo Sarkar giving rise to mutual trust between the people and the government owes a lot to the incessant exertion of Shri V Karthikeyan Pandian who has been entrusted with the responsibilities to implement it. His dedicated engagements to do so on a round-the-clock basis bring out his exceptional administrative capabilities. His surprise visits to government establishments located in far off places of the state very early in the morning, and his preference to buy very modest food in government-run Aahar Centres during such visits to personally monitor the implementation of the Five Ts sets a shining example that civil servants are the servants of the people. The Chief Minister setting such worthy examples at the political level, and Shri Pandian at the level of civil service, constitutes a source of inspiration to take forward the cause of people-centric governance to higher levels of excellence.
It is because of the close identification of the government with the people that they have expressed their trust in the government, and the government, in turn, has deepened that feeling among people that its employees, ministers, and people's representatives are their servants and not their masters. Four months after India attained independence from the British rule, Mahatma Gandhi referred to the ministers of independent India and said with sincerity of purpose and strength of conviction that the rulers deriving power from people have to inevitably trust them. It is worthwhile to quote his own words. He said, "Today you have power in your hands. This power is not of Wavell or the Viceroy, it is of the people and for the uplift of the poor. How could we work if we did not trust our people? What would be our fate then?" The essence of what Gandhiji said in 1947 is valid in a deeper sense in twenty-first-century India.
Mo Sarkar based on the five Ts trusts people's primacy over legal formal procedures of the government, which often paralyses the people-centric governance because of issues such as red tape. Because of the reposition of trust in the people by the government, people in turn have trusted the government. Such mutual trust validates the meaning inherent in the adage that "trust begets trust". The inescapable conclusion is that the Five Ts have generated the sixth T i.e. Trust which is the sure and solid foundation of people-centric governance. It is no wonder that the five Ts have been applauded by NITI Ayog for making governance more effective and people-centric.
It is a matter of pride and deep satisfaction that the UNDP Representative in India has appreciated 5T-based governance. Chief Minister Shri Naveen Patnaik, in his message to the people conveying greetings and good wishes to them on the occasion of the celebrations of the 71st Republic Day, very appropriately stressed on the point that the 5T-based people-centric governance adopted in Odisha has emerged as a role model for the entire country. Adding further, he said that because of 5T-driven Mo Sarkar, the gulf between the people and the government has been considerably bridged, and it is indicated by the enhancement of the people's faith and trust in the government.
When I was in Balangir on 29th December 2019 to participate in the platinum jubilee celebrations of Rajendra College, now conferred with the status of a University, Shri Jayadev Bohidar, an advocate, very passionately hailed the five Ts and feelingly said that these should have been made an integral part of governance five years back. His argument was that the five Ts have acted as a breath of fresh air which has given a new lease of life to the process of governance and made it people-centric.
A month before independence, Mahatma Gandhi had emphasised that Swaraj (Independence) should be transformed to Suraj (good governance). In fact, Shri Naveen Patnaik intends to transform the impressive mandate of the people secured by his party, Biju Janata Dal, to effectively implement the policies and programmes meant for people, and thereby transform Swaraj to Suraj. The sixth T representing Trust generated among the people in favour of the government because of the application of the five Ts augurs well for deepening the culture of people-centric governance ushered in by Odisha.