ANIL SWARUP, Secretary, Ministry of Coal, Government of India, and Guest of Honour and CW Man of the Year at the 12th CW Annual Awards 2014, highlights his journey of transparency and the need for the industry to find its achhe din.
´My journey has been interesting. I came to Delhi for the second time in 2006 as the Director General Welfare and within three months I realised nothing was happening in the ministry, because we were in labour and could not deliver; and if we delivered we would be out of labour. A series of discussions happened, but by conscious methodology, I discovered, no decision was taken. Thirty-five of us would travel in the hot June days of Delhi to find solutions for India, which were never found - because if we did, we would not have to go to Geneva, a nice place to be in June.
The Rashtriya Swastha Bima Yojana (RSBY) was imposed on us, the smart card-based health insurance scheme - the biggest and perhaps the only paperless health insurance scheme. It was picked up as one of the top social security schemes globally. Then I was given a lucrative offer of $1,000 a day by the World Bank, which I did not take up. I had a different passion working here. Suddenly, the government discovered that RSBY was doing really well, because yog had become yoga and I was travelling to a different country every month.
When I was in Cambodia, talking about introducing this scheme in 15 different countries, I was summoned back to India. The cabinet secretary asked me to head the Project Monitoring Group (PMG). My tenure with the Centre was over and I wanted to go back to the state government but arrangements were made and I started heading PMG. I have never had secrecy in my life and everything in Cabinet Secretariat is a secret. Transparency was necessary, to ensure which, you would be surprised to know that there was not a single file in the office and everything was on the portal - problems addressed reached the concerned authority; the industry knew all the happenings on the portal.
We cleared around 180 projects of Rs 6.5 lakh crore. I was serving the poorest of the poor in RSBY, but the government wanted me to serve the richest of the rich with PMG. I had to facilitate the clearance of Rs 1,000-crore plus projects.
When the coal industry crisis started brewing, I was asked to handle it. There was a Supreme Court judgement and I was asked to ensure everything happens before March 31, 2014.
I had joined on March 16 and by March 17, I was asked to bring in the ordinance by March 20. For three days and 72 hours we hardly slept. We worked on it till 12 pm and it was introduced in the cabinet directly by 2 pm. The general impression is that people do not work in a bureaucracy. It is certainly not so.
People talk of achhe din; it is a subjective perception.
We have been given the mandate to get moving and get going, delivering. The environment is conducive for achhe din, it is up to us to convert this excitement. I have always believed in public-private partnership (PPP). For me, the money comes from the government and efficiency from the private sector. And we have to work together; it is high time we stopped cursing each other, the era of mistrust has to move. I have believed that in my career of 34 years and I have been benefited by it. Give each other a chance. RSBY was a classic example of PPP in a social-sector scheme.
We have to do what has to be done. You have to derive that satisfaction and find your achhe din. The real winner is inside. Despite the problems you face, you manage to deliver something and that is inspiring. It is time for us to recognise what strength we have inside.´