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Reaching out to Northeast India

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The Ministry of Development of North Eastern Region (DoNER) has launched a 108- page coffee table book containing pictorial depiction of the exclusive features of each of the eight states of the northeast. The ministry has also increased the budgetary allocation for an overall development of the region, says Union Minister for DoNER, Personnel, Public Grievances, Pensions, Atomic Energy and Space, Dr Jitendra Singh in conversation with Gautam Debroy of Elets News Network (ENN).

Dr Jitendra Singh

Ever since your party formed the government at the Centre, much more emphasis has been laid on the development of northeastern states.

Yes, we are now giving much more attention to the northeastern states. Under my watch, the DoNER Ministry’s budget allocation has been increased. The budgetary estimate for the Ministry for 2017-18 has been increased by 6.2 per cent to Rs 2,682.45 crore against revised estimates of Rs 2,524.42 crore in 2016-17.

The outlay for North Eastern Council (NEC) has also been fixed at Rs 925 crore against the last year’s allocation of Rs 800 crore (a 15.63 per cent increase).

Rs 500 crore has been provided under budget estimate 2017-18 as ‘Grants to Autonomous Council and Areas covered under the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution.’

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s two-day visit to Shillong on May 27 assumes historic importance because it was the first time after 40 years that a Prime Minister had attended the plenary meeting of North Eastern Council at Shillong which is the headquarters of the council.

You have recently launched a coffee table book. Tell us about this initiative.

The coffee table book contains a pictorial depiction of the exclusive features of each of the eight states of the northeast. Its special highlight is Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s two-day visit to Shillong on May 27, which assumes historic importance because it was the first time after 40 years that a Prime Minister had attended the plenary meeting of North Eastern Council at Shillong which is the headquarters of the council. The last Prime Minister to do so was Morarji Desai in the year 1977.

The 108-page book is entitled ‘A Story of Sagacity and Success’ and its creation was possible because of the inspiration and patronage provided by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

In your ministry, you have launched a massive recruitment drive. Please tell us about it.

The special recruitment drive was launched in May 2015 which led to filling up of 83.50 per cent of 15,694 vacancies of “Divyang Jan”. Interviews have been dispensed with for recruitment to all Group ‘C’, ‘D’ and Group ‘B’ (non-gazetted) posts with effect from January 1, 2016.

“Our Employees — Online App” will enable officers, media persons and all stakeholders to stay updated on appointments and postings of senior government functionaries on realtime basis.

To improve transparency and reduce time to complete recruitment, the government has switched over from the traditional OMR (Optical Mark Reader) mode to computer-based online mode in respect of the various examinations (like CGLE, CHSL, MTS level, etc.) conducted by SSC (Staff Selection Commission).

Initiatives have already been taken to implement e-Office in Central government ministries and departments under MMP. So far, 11 ministries and departments have successfully implemented e-Office and 55 more ministries and departments are expected to implement it by March 31, 2017.

In the UN e-Gov Index 2016, India’s rank has improved from 118 in 2014 to 107 in 2016. DARPG in association with UNDP is working towards improvement in online service delivery and development of services portal for India.

In order to enforce accountability and transparency in all offices of Central government ministries and departments except Railway, Defence, Post and Telecommunication, ‘Bhavishya’ has been made mandatory for processing pension cases with effect from January 1, 2017.

Where do we stand in the field of space and atomic energy?

We are doing quite well! We signed a civil nuclear agreement with Japan in November last year during Prime Minister’s last visit to Japan.

We also signed on December 9, 2016 an inter-governmental agreement with Vietnam for peaceful uses of atomic energy. Mumbaibased Tata Memorial Centre Cancer Hospital which functions under the aegis of Department of Atomic Energy has achieved 100 per cent “cashless” transaction through the use of exclusive hospital-specific multipurpose pre-paid ‘smartcard.’

Two important technology demonstrations have been undertaken: The Reusable Launch Vehicle – Technology Demonstration (RLVTD) and the ScramJet Engine. In addition, we have launched 20 satellites in one go on-board PSLV of which 17 were international payloads, 2 were from Indian Academia and the CARTOSAT-2S.

There was an allegation that your party used the ‘surgical strike’ issue to gain political mileage in the state elections. What do you have to say on it? 

In fact, the surgical strike was meticulously executed. There was confidentiality built over the operation. But they (the Opposition) made an issue out of it.

They have questioned the authenticity of the operation. Here, I must tell that those who don’t dare to call terrorist a terrorist must not question the patriotism.

On the contrary, they (the Opposition) can go to any extent to get political mileage from any issue. We appeal to all sections of the society not to indulge in any kind of politicking at the cost of the morale of the security forces.

When the demonetisation took place, the Opposition raised the same issue. They went to the maximum possible extent to raise controversy by raising questions over the decision taken by the Prime Minister.

I tell you the demonetisation decision was taken keeping in mind the interest of the common people of the country. The decision will wash away black money

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