Address by Shri Jagdeep Dhankhar, Honourable Vice President to 2023 Batch IAS Officer Trainees at the conclusion of Phase I of their Professional Course at Lal Bahadur Shastri National Academy of Administration, Mussoorie on April 05, 2024.

Dehradun | April 5, 2024

Good morning all of you,

My young friends, it gives me immense pleasure to be with you all on the occasion of the Valedictory Programme of Phase-I for the 2023 Batch of the Indian Administrative Service.

Your parents have the greatest satisfaction when you get into the IAS by seeing the reaction of the neighbors, and suddenly you will find an upsurge in their morale. Never forget what you are because of them. It is because of their sacrifice.

It is indeed gratifying to address young minds, and after this rigorous training, you are impregnably mature. You have made it to this place, you know it. It was the most difficult tunnel to cross. You never so lightly attend to the road till you see your name in the list.

As I focus here on bright minds and promising leaders, I don't mean only political leaders. Though we are having increasingly trained bureaucrats in service and out of service getting into politics, and they make it to mighty positions also.

I am reminded of the rich legacy of this esteemed institution, where countless civil servants have been nurtured and groomed to serve our great nation and all of them contributed to its emergence of Bharat at this stage.

Each one of you, my friends, embodies excellence, integrity, and commitment to public service, qualities that are indispensable for shaping the destiny of our nation. I see in you the potential to define Bharat in your vision and conception, and trust me, you are competent on our March to 2047, viksit Bharat.

At that point of time, all of you will be in commanding positions, and I and many like me will be watching from heaven, the glorious moment.

Bharat is on the rise as never before, and there is well-placed confidence that you all will sustain and contribute to further galloping of this exponential developmental journey.

Me and my generation have seen Bharat where there was no light in the village and no road connectivity. You can't think of tap water; you can't think of a toilet in the house. You can never imagine a gas connection in the house; you can't have a school in your village or at the most to be satisfied to have a primary school, and look at where we are.

Let me advert to the various facets of contemporaneous national scenarios- pertaining to economic, political, social and geopolitical facets.

On economic fundamentals, the last decade has been marked with a sea change that makes present times one of hope and possibility. Overcoming a difficult phase there is transition from an environment of despondency and to one of upbeat mood. You have to capitalise on it, monetize for National welfare.

Our economy over this period withstanding head winds and negotiating difficult terrain has traversed from being fragile five global economies to being the fifth largest global economy ahead of our colonial masters, the United Kingdom, Canada and France.

In about two years or so Bharat, home to one-sixth of humanity, would be the third largest global economy ahead of Japan and Germany.

When I got into parliament in 1989, I had occasion to be Union Minister. I suffered the pain Bharat that was known as ‘Sone Ki Chidiya’, the gold, in physical terms, had to be lifted to be placed into two Swiss banks to sustain our fiscal credibility. What I see today, I never imagined. That's a big change.

My young friends, we are already the third largest global purchasing power.

Our Marathon March from Amrit Kaal to Vikasit Bharat@ 2047 is well scripted by visionary thought of our Prime Minister, who is committed to cause in mission mode with deep passion, and this is coupled with dedicated execution of your fraternity, the two are complementary. You have to translate into success visionary policies, and that Indian bureaucracy is doing day in and day out at the moment.

Our economy has been spinally strengthened by transformative policies and innovative reforms resulting in ease of living for those in the last row as mentioned by Mahatma Gandhi ji in his concept of antyodaya. This very thoughtful concept of Mahatma Gandhi ji, the antyodaya taking care of the man last in the row, is being realised. Work is in progress by and large, it is ground reality.

The world's largest tax reform - goods and services tax-the GST was unfolded at the Central Hall of Parliament in 2017 by the then Hon’ble President Pranab Mukherjee and Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

My young friends, in the same Central Hall, on the midnight of 14th - 15th August 1947, India on attainment of independence had “Tryst with Destiny” and on midnight of 30th June - 1st July 2017, the nation with initiation of the GST regime had “Tryst with Modernity”. GST has been a game changer reform and has added to the growth of the economy making it more transparent and enabling for its contributors.

Contrary to the global scenario, our economy has been steadily looking up despite challenges of the Covid Pandemic and global conflagrations threatening supply chains. It must be soothing to all of you that hardly a week passes when our Navy has performed to save the supply chains, to rescue victims of piracy. Every Indian would be proud of their accomplishment.

Nation witnessed not pyramidical but plateau kind of societal development. For the needy and suffering upliftment has been transformative beyond contemplation.

In a country of our size and diversity, it was indeed a staggering thought that every household will have electricity, difficult to think, look at the staggering thought that occurred in the mind of our visionary leadership of the Prime minister. He thought every household will have electricity, toilets, tap water, and gas connection and every person would have access to health and education facilities.

A good wish list, a great dream but what has happened. These are now largely ground reality and the work is in progress. You will have to sustain it.

Friends, unimaginable milestones, high digital and technological connectivity across the country have been no less than stunning accomplishments. There was a time when we were decades behind the Global technological moment. Look at where we are, turning out to be leaders.

This has resulted in India accounting 50% of global digital transactions in the year 2023. We are ⅙ of humanity but our share of global distal transactions is 50%, something that we make our head high. We will ever take pride in this accomplishment.

Digital connectivity with robust infrastructure has enormously benefited the country because now it is available in every nook and corner of the country. It dots our geographical area. Every village has it. You no longer suffer the pain if you are from the village, you will get the same facility.

Internet accessibility and adaptability in every part of the country is evidenced by the fact that our per capita internet consumption happens to be more than that of the USA and China taken together.

This game-changer technological penetration has also massively contributed to governance accountability and transparency.

My young friend- recall a prime minister of this country in the 1980s lamented that not even 15% of the amount meant for the development reaches the beneficiary. It was his concern that 85% goes elsewhere.

And now, what a 360 degree change now as the intended beneficiary receives digitally 100% assistance without leakage, intermediary or middleman. They receive it in their bank. What a visionary step was taken to include 500 million people in the banking system. They opened their Account for the first time. Look at the gain we are getting thereof.

Let me come to my grassroot. I am the son of a farmer. I am from a village. I am the first generation to step out. What I say today and what I could not imagine when I was a Minister and member of parliament 30 years ago is that now about 100 million farmers receive three times a year direct transfer in their bank, PM kisan Nidhi Samman.

The government may be prepared, the robust infrastructure may be prepared but the glorious accomplishment is that the farmer is prepared to receive it and is receiving it and this amount at the moment my young friend is about 3 lac crore, not a small amount.

Service delivery for the ordinary person has been technologically driven given the facility in nearly all the villages with computer centres.

Look at young people in the villages, tier 2 cities when they apply for a job, when they fill examination form, when they seek a passport, they no longer have to use the old method that was having a drain on finance and hours. They do it by technological means.

New Education Policy after a gap of over three decades is poised to bring about much needed revolutionary change in the education system. It is now tailored to suit our needs, our thinking, our dreams. We don't dream in a foreign language, we dream in our own language and the shift is from a mere degree of orientation to skill evolution and the shift is timely.

Our rail, road and air connectivity which you see day in a day out ask your grandparents, your parents what was the situation then and what is the situation now, not only quantitative but qualitative also. We are having a world class railway station airport and look at our road and look at multiple choices for connectivity to a particular place. Let me go to my home State Jaipur. Delhi-Jaipur there is only one road through Alwar, over a period of time it came direct to Kotputli and now it is part of the Delhi Bombay Grand Highway world class Highway. There was a time earlier it used to be 98 hour now it takes 5-6 hour that is a big change

Our infrastructure has shown quantum jump quantitatively and qualitatively and matches global best.

On the international front G-20 was a resounding success. Every state and union territory organised G20 functions. The world witnessed Bharat civilizational ethos of more than 5000 years old. They were exposed to our culture, they were exposed to the sharpened intellect of our human resource, they were exposed to the level of reception we people have in this country and the final was held at Bharat Mandapam, one of the top 10 convention centers of the world.

The prime minister has the privilege to receive world leader and look at the background, you must have seen it on and when the only the walk through the alley, they exposed to our Civilization wealth of 5000 years and then we had P-20 held at YashoBhoomi, another convention centre with parking place of more than 3000 cards.

I was at both the places. I could not believe my eyes but what was surprising and soothing that Global leaders were applauding. That is what it is. Our growth is not just in infrastructure. G20 will be historically known that Bharat is emerging as a world leader sharpening its soft diplomatic power. The African Union has been included in G20. We became the voice of the global.

Governance that would largely be your concern has taken a turn for the better. Equality before law that had eluded us for long and corruption that was running into the veins of administration like blood are now matters of the past.

My young friends, you and your colleagues in civil services have contributed to this revolution silently. You will have the occasion to contribute passively. It will be mostly in silence but trust me when accomplishment is effected in silence it resonates in the ears of the common man and one and all.

Privileged pedigree, for long beyond the rule of law, was reaping the harvest while meritocracy suffered, is now sulking in the bye lanes.

Democratic values and essence is deepening as equality before law is being enforced in an exemplary manner and corruption is no longer a trading commodity. Earlier it was the only mechanism to contract, recruitment, opportunity. Nothing would happen unless you take this route. Those who took this route facilitated the root by being corrupt, having made to take route of law.

Our power corridors have been sanitised of corruption. Those who extra legally leveraged decision making in seats of power are now on the run and in tight grip of law. Transparency and accountability, ease of governance define governance.

I was exposed when I headed a group of 10 governors on Ease of doing business. I was therefore came to be educated, I would say. What was the situation earlier and what is the situation now? The change could not have been far more effective that it is today.

The cumulative impact of all these changes has been that the country has been pulled out of despondency. India has become land of hope and possibility, hotspot of global opportunity, favourite destination for investment. This is where you are at the moment. You have to catalyse on this situation.

We were living at times at your age when we used to satisfy ourself that India has potential, India is the sleeping having but why young friends you are fortunate. I would say in a country of 1.4 billion people you are fortunate that your number here is within three digits and you can take pride now India is no longer a nation with potential.

We are no longer a sleeping giant. We are on the move. You have to accelerate this moment.

The global establishments are in punishing mode for our neighbours but what do they say about us now. The World Bank, the IMF, and forums like the World Economic Forum, have acclaimed from the public domain our phenomenal rise as a model for the rest of the world in the field of digitization and several other areas.

The nation suffers some problems and you have to live with it. We were in a state of hopelessness. Article 370, the only temporary article of the constitution, was presumed to be the only final article of the constitution. People advocated after taking oath of the Constitution that article 370 is beyond change. You know historically Dr. Ambedkar, Chairman of the Drafting Committee drafted all the articles of the Constitution except the article 370. Peep into history you will find out what he declined to do. His communication on this point is very emotive and that emotion was taken care of.

During this decade article 370 is no longer in the constitution. A big change we never imagined.

What I am indicating to us is that you will have to contribute more because some of the greatest obstacles that pained us have been overcome and look that what has happened after article 370 ceased to be in the constitution, Jammu and Kashmir is blossoming.

Can you imagine unfurling the flag was a difficult situation and now G20 functions are held there. World leaders were there. The economy is looking up. Members of your tribe who had the occasion to have that as your cadre state had the occasion to serve it for decades but denied even a piece of land for your residence. To put it from your perspective, a big change has taken place. Hope has been rekindled in Jammu and Kashmir resulting in a huge positive upsurge in the economy and development of the area. It is back as a favourite tourist destination with lacs going there now year by year.

Women reservation that eluded us for about three decades. I would not decry anyone, earnest efforts were made to see that they become part of policy making. They become part of the legislature, they become part of law making, earnest efforts were made that did not succeed. Fortunately they succeeded. Last year women representation in Lok Sabha will be more than one third because one third is reserved. It will be more than one third in the State Legislature and this reservation comes with societal angles also. Scheduled Caste, Scheduled Tribe will get reservation within the reservation. So the reservation has a societal angle by being both horizontal and vertical.

I have no doubt and not because I have only a daughter. Women will contribute more effectively, impactfully, soothingly the human face of policy by the training the live they lead the challenges they face they are well equipped to give that input but they can give it only when they are in the room where decisions are being taken and they will have this occasion now

My young friends I have in a macro manner adverted to these aspects only to indicate that at your launchpad time you have an enabling echo system that will help you expand your talent and dedication optimally for the nation. You can effect the change you believe in. This is a rare opportunity. People believe in a change but handicapped in bringing the change. You are in the position to bring change.

However there are some worrisomely alarming challenges we face from within and without. There is strategize orchestration of factually untenable anti national narratives aimed at tainting and tarnishing our glorified and robust constitutional bodies.

Decrying our growth journey. I don't think we need lessons from everyone anyone about rule of law about a robust judicial system about methods elevate poverty. How can anyone lecture in the world to our nation that from April 1 2020 is making available free food to 850 million people. This does not indicate poverty. This is a helping hand to them that yes they must keep on coming up and rising to higher level.

We can't allow others to calibrate us because they neither have the resources nor knowledge or understanding of how this country works with 5000 year old ethos where we treat and that treatment is reflected in our G20 Motto “one earth, one family, one future”.

When I was talking about anti national narratives. You are well informed minds. Just imagine the Citizen Amendment Act. Now anyone who can spell a moment with modest intellect to go through that Amendment Act would know it does not deprive anyone of his or her citizenship, it does not handicap anyone on the globe to apply for Indian citizenship.

The system is there. What does it do? It facilitates acquisition of Indian citizenship for Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians from the neighbouring countries of Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan who arrived in India on or before 31 December 2014.

It is not an invitation for influx and why it is being conferred on them. They have been prosecuted on the account of their religious belief. Our nation has been home to such people for thousands of years. Jews Parsi zoroastrians they found centuries growth whole some situation here and this some call discriminatory. We have to neutralize these narratives. These emanate not out of ignorance; these emanate out of a strategy to run down our nation. This Nation on the planet does not need any script or Sermon from anyone on the point of equality. We believe in it.

Let them look back, some countries have a woman president. We had a woman Prime Minister because the UK had. We have a Supreme Court. In other countries the Supreme Court has completed two centuries or more without a woman judge. We welcome all lectures and all sources of knowledge if they emanate from bonafide intentions.

Friends, the freedom and democracy that we take for granted today is an outcome of unimaginable sacrifices by many valian unsung Heroes of our freedom movement. Fortunately we are giving due to our heroes, though belatedly. For too long a period, our freedom movement warriors left to be recognized. But now we have Parakram Divas for Netaji Subhash Bose and his statue is there at India gate, we have Jan Jaatiya Gaurav Divas dedicated to Birsa Munda

Recent conferment of Bharat Ratna, the highest civilian award posthumously to Karpoori Thakur, Chaudhary Charan a symbol of transparency accountability integrity and firm believer in growth of village, PV Narsimha Rao, a political statesman, and Dr M S Swaminathan has been widely acclaimed. This honour should have come to these noble souls long ago.

My young friends- You are discerning minds. You will impact this society more than anyone else. People will look up to you as role models. It is a gratifying moment for them when they meet you. The way you behave in society is taken to be worth emulation. You are inspiration and motivation for the area in which you are great and therefore corresponding obligation that you have to exemplify your conduct accordingly.

You will have to seek admiration of the elders and you will have to be motivational for the younger mind. Work with Seva Bhav and Sahanubhuti a sense of service and empathy deeply embedded in our Civilizational ethos to be your guiding principle. Adhere to it. it will change society and you have the capacity to catalyse this change.

My young friends, your potential is undoubted, your ability is established, your opportunity is well recognised and in such a situation you have to take care of certain things which are deficiency in a society like public discipline to name just one. You can transform it.

The greatest challenge to our democratic polity is emanating from those who have long been part of dispensation, have held positions of authority, had the occasion to contribute to the development of the nation and once out of authority they become a complete recipe for chaos. They would say India is sinking, its economy cannot go beyond this level. You know who I am referring to. We have to challenge these as was indicated by one of the speakers here. We can't take it as firm and final. The repetition they built was on the opportunity they got in governance. They are fritting and fritting away because they tend to do things from a political prism. We have to address nationalism and look at the prism that promotes nationalism.

These people have poor appetite for India's growth trajectory and must need some reebuf from India’s young minds in positions of authority and constitutional obligation to serve this nation.

It is painful and concerning to find that their commitment to nationalism is not what it should be. They take nationalism next to their political or self welfare. We have to nurture a spirit that nationalism has to be a prime concern. We have to always keep our nation first and above everything else.

Nothing can be more challenging to democracy than an informed mind knowing full well the subject makes a wrong statement to monetize ignorance of the people. These people need to be exposed. You are well positioned to neutralise such nefarious tendencies. I am sure you will do it.

There can be no politics over national affairs, security concerns and our foreign policy. The global rise of the nation has to be in your mind ever to ensure the momentum never loses force.

My dear young friends, you can bring about transformation which has been dreamt because the system has generated enough equity for you to perform.

Sardar Patel once said, "Faith is of no avail in absence of strength. Faith and strength, both are essential to accomplish any great work."

He further added in the constituent assembly “You will not have United India if not have good All India Service which has the independence to speak out its might.”

I read it there when I paid the floral tribute to Iron Man of this country. Never forget, he achieved what was very daunting, virtually impossible: integration of princely states. You need to be fully updated. Why Integration of Jammu and Kashmir was kept away from him. These two situations, Article 370 was kept away from Dr. Ambedkar. State of Jammu and Kashmir was taken away from the portfolio of Sardar Patel. And look at how we suffered for decades.

You will be facing another situation which others have not faced. Though you will be at the junior-most level, the challenge will be more forceful to you. I am referring to disruptive technologies: artificial intelligence, internet of things, machine learning, blockchain, and the like. It is your obligation because we are at the cusp of something like another industrial revolution. These technologies will be the. These offer both challenges and opportunities. You will have to convert challenges into opportunities for public good. And I am sure you will do it.

Congratulate each of you on this great positioning on this very rigorous training!

If you had any serious thoughts about the Director and the faculty being unreasonable to you or harsh to you, you will be grateful to them all your life and remember them for good. They have to you.

May you continue to inspire others, and mind each of you are role models for your families, for your friends, for your community, for your area, and you will be ever role model where you will be positioned at a particular place for a particular work and therefore, inspire others with your commitment and always strive to make a positive difference in the lives of those around you.

Thank you. Jai Hind!