India

Nitish Kumar

Ref Batch
ZZ
Focus Area(s)
Ref Batch Number
1
Country of Reform
Interviewers
Rushda Majeed
Name
Nitish Kumar
Interviewee's Position
Former Chief Minister
Language
Hindi/English
Town/City
Patna, Bihar
Country
Date of Interview
Reform Profile
No
Abstract

In this interview, Nitish Kumar explains the role of the Chief Minister and the progress made in Bihar through governance and reform. Kumar talks about initial challenges and a changing atmosphere in Bihar over the course of his administration, with the mood shifting from fear and mistrust to confidence in government and law and order. Detailing major reforms in governance, law and order, education, healthcare, and more, Kumar describes specific actions taken by Bihar’s government. These include passage of an Arms Act to secure public spaces, expansion of and increased attendance in public schools, increased infrastructure and transportation, delegation of responsibility in government offices, implementation of a Rights to Public Services Act and more. Kumar discusses what he sees as successes from his time in office, and the steps he takes to effectively govern the people of Bihar.

Profile

At the time of this interview, Nitish Kumar was the former Chief Minister. Kumar had previous experience in governing from his work as a Minister in the Union Government of India. Before that, he briefly worked with the Bihar State Electricity Board, putting his Electrical Engineering degree from NIT Patna to use. Kumar belongs to the Janata Dal (United) political party in India, and has gained popularity by initiating a series of developmental reforms in the state of Bihar during his times as Chief Minister there. His supporters and fans nicknamed him “sushasan babu,” which roughly translates to “man of good governance.”

Abhayanand

Ref Batch
B
Focus Area(s)
Ref Batch Number
1
Country of Reform
Interviewers
Rohan Mukherjee
Name
Abhayanand
Interviewee's Position
Additional Director General of Police
Interviewee's Organization
Bihar, India
Language
English
Nationality of Interviewee
India
Town/City
Bihar state
Country
Date of Interview
Reform Profile
Yes
Abstract

Abhayanand, the additional director general of police in the state of Bihar, India, recounts some notable successes during his tenure, including the recruitment of former members of the military to supplement the police force on a contract basis. The recruitment and amalgamation of former military personnel, specifically to deal with organized crime and extremist groups, quickly addressed a need for greater numbers of trained police. Another notable success was the institution of the "speedy trial," in which it became practice for police to become invested in the judicial process by securing and sometimes protecting witnesses for deposition. Abhayanand also elaborates on the importance of the media as a tool for building public support for reform and improving public perception of the police. He notes that much of the impetus for reform, particularly to curb kidnappings for ransom and installing a general sense of law and order, derived from election promises. One area of attempted reform that was deemed a failure was the rehabilitation of convicts.

Case Study:  Clearing the Jungle Raj, Bihar State, India, 2005-2009

Profile

At the time of this interview, Abhayanand was a 1977 batch Indian Police Service officer and was serving as additional director general of police in Bihar state.  In this capacity, he oversaw both police headquarters and police intelligence activities.  During his tenure in this position, he constituted the Special Auxiliary Police Force by recruiting retired soldiers on contract, a policy that was later adopted by other states.

Full Audio File Size
52 MB
Audio Subsections
Size
1.2 MB
Title
The Special Auxiliary Police
Full Audio Title
Abhayanand - Full Interview

Chirashree Das Gupta

Ref Batch
B
Ref Batch Number
2
Country of Reform
Interviewers
Rohan Mukherjee
Name
Chirashree Das Gupta
Interviewee's Position
Associate Professor, Centre for Economic Policy and Public Finance
Interviewee's Organization
Asian Development Research Institute
Language
English
Nationality of Interviewee
India
Town/City
Patna
Country
Date of Interview
Reform Profile
Yes
Abstract

Chirashree Das Gupta of the Asian Development Research Institute addresses a range of governance issues on the reform agenda of the Nitish Kumar government that came to power in India's Bihar state in 2005.  In particular, she talks about the administrative reforms that were necessary after years of curtailed expenditures and reduced functioning of basic governance.  She details the importance of coalition-building and incentive-based ownership of programs by the bureaucracy, while recognizing the issue of brokerage that exists in areas of deprivation with a limited number of positions available.  She highlights the recruitment of 100,000 teachers as both a success and a failure.  She also shares thoughts on integration of different segments of society in a place where the caste system so clearly divides political support.

Case Studies:  Coalition Building in a Divided Society: Bihar State, India, 2005-2009 and Reviving the Administration, Bihar State, India, 2005-2009

Profile

At the time of this interview, Chirashree Das Gupta was associate professor at the Centre for Economic Policy and Public Finance of the Asian Development Research Institute, in Patna, the capital of Bihar state, India. She worked on the political economy of state-society relations.

Full Audio File Size
63 MB
Full Audio Title
Chirashree Das Gupta - Full Interview

Ramesh Chand Jain

Ref Batch
A
Focus Area(s)
Ref Batch Number
5
Critical Tasks
Country of Reform
Interviewers
Rohan Mukherjee
Name
Ramesh Chand Jain
Interviewee's Position
Deputy Commissioner of Kamrup
Interviewee's Organization
Guwahati, India
Language
English
Nationality of Interviewee
Indian
Town/City
Kamrup, Guwahati
Country
Date of Interview
Reform Profile
No
Abstract

Ramesh Chand (R.C.) Jain, deputy commissioner of Kamrup for Guwahati, India, describes his efforts to revive and reform the Assam State Transport Corp. during his tenure as managing director beginning in the year 2000. At the time he assumed his position, ASTC was on the verge of being closed down after 100 years of existence. It had about 5,400 employees who had not been paid for 14 months, a substantial debt, and only 72 vehicles in operating condition, earnings from which were almost nothing. The employees had been agitating and protesting since 1988. He discusses how he convened meetings of top employees and slowly persuaded them that they would benefit from significant changes. He had political support from the transport minister to undertake reform at any cost. Jain talks about reducing the number of employees through a voluntary retirement plan, requesting voluntary assistance from Tata Motors to train ASTC mechanics and improve repair shops, and starting an innovative public-private partnership by offering ASTC stations to private operators who would use ASTC vehicles and share income. He then convinced the private operators to recruit drivers and conductors from ASTC’s surplus workforce on financial terms favorable to both the operators and ASTC, and started a system under which each vehicle had an owner who was responsible for operating, maintaining and repairing it. He also talks about a zero-based inventory system under which parts were purchased from dealers only when needed. He also negotiated bulk purchases of tires, batteries, lubricants, and fuel, which were then sold to the operators at market rates.  He also discusses other measures taken by the Minister of Transport.

 

Profile
At the time of this interview, Ramesh Chand Jain was deputy commissioner of Kamrup for Guwahati. He was managing director of the Assam State Transportation Corporation from 2000 to 2006. He joined the Assam Civil Service in 1983 and served in various capacities.
Full Audio File Size
36 MB
Full Audio Title
Ramesh Chand (R.C.) Jain - Full Interview

Rajiv Bora

Ref Batch
A
Focus Area(s)
Ref Batch Number
1
Country of Reform
Interviewers
Rohan Mukherjee
Name
Rajiv Bora
Interviewee's Position
Commissioner and Secretary
Interviewee's Organization
Home and Political departments, Assam state, India
Language
English
Nationality of Interviewee
Indian
Town/City
Guwahati
Country
Date of Interview
Reform Profile
No
Abstract

Rajiv Bora discusses some of the major issues and challenges the Assam government faced in terms of law and order, counterinsurgency, and illegal immigration. The Indian state has confronted demographic pressures stemming from the migration of people from what is now Bangladesh. The state has also witnessed several insurgencies, including the United Front for the Liberation of Asom and the Bodo minority. Bora describes his role in monitoring and implementing ceasefire agreements with these groups. He talks about government decentralization efforts as well as steps to secure the India-Bangladesh border. These efforts included constructing a border fence, increasing the number of border outposts, establishing tribunals for foreigners, and creating a national registry of citizens. Bora also outlines the objectives and outcomes of the recently implemented Police Act and the institutional steps taken to reduce police excesses. He describes several tribal and communal conflicts and how the government responded. He also highlights the debate about the effectiveness of offering rehabilitation packages for extremists who have surrendered.

Case Study: Promoting Peace Through Development: Assam State, India, 2001-2009

Profile

At the time of this interview, Rajiv Bora was commissioner and secretary of the Home and Political departments for the government of Assam in India. From 1998 to 2003, he served as commissioner and secretary of finance, a position in which he dealt with state finances and managed fiscal reforms.

Full Audio File Size
50 MB
Full Audio Title
Rajiv Bora - Full Interview

Subhash Das

Ref Batch
A
Focus Area(s)
Ref Batch Number
3
Country of Reform
Interviewers
Rohan Mukherjee
Name
Subhash Das
Interviewee's Position
Principal Secretary, Home and Political departments
Interviewee's Organization
Assam, India
Language
English
Nationality of Interviewee
Indian
Town/City
Dispur
Country
Date of Interview
Reform Profile
No
Abstract

Subhash Das recounts his experiences as chairman of the Assam State Electricity Board and some of the reforms undertaken during his tenure there. He describes the initial opposition to reform among employees who were skeptical about promises of job security and the future payments of their pensions. He also details other reforms, such as limiting transmission and distribution loss, preventing the electricity board from becoming insolvent, and expanding services. He characterizes efforts to improve collection and billing efficiency, which involved creating incentives for employees to collect payments and disconnect service from people who were not paying their bills. Das outlines the process of giving more authority to sub-divisional officers in order to get people hooked up to the electricity grid. He also describes the Single Point Power Supply Scheme, which dispatches rural agents to collect payments instead of having customers traveling long distances to pay their bills. He relates how he conducted an audit, expanded capacity by increasing the number of transformers, and improved the quality of service. He explains how the Electricity Act established a system for grievances, and he describes capacity-building efforts and training for veteran employees.

Case Study:  Promoting Peace Through Development: Assam State, India, 2001-2009

Profile

At the time of this interview, Subhash Das was principal secretary of the Home and Political departments for the government of Assam in India. He held this position since September 2007 and generally dealt with issues of internal security and police administration. From 2004 until 2007, he served as the chairman of the Assam State Electricity Board. Before that, he worked in the industries department, the agriculture department, the education department and the planning department.

Full Audio File Size
65 MB
Full Audio Title
Subhash Das - Full Interview

Anup Mukerji

Ref Batch
B
Focus Area(s)
Ref Batch Number
4
Country of Reform
Interviewers
Rohan Mukherjee
Name
Anup Mukerji
Interviewee's Position
Development Commissioner
Interviewee's Organization
Government of Bihar, India
Language
English
Nationality of Interviewee
Indian
Town/City
Patna
Country
Date of Interview
Reform Profile
No
Abstract
Anup Mukerji talks about his role as principal secretary in the Rural Development Department, which deals with anti-poverty programs in Bihar, India. The key programs in the department were wage employment, self-employment and housing. Mukerji explains that the main objective for the reforms was to reduce corruption and to introduce transparency in the system. He describes how the housing program developed an ordered below-poverty-line list of the homeless or those with very poor housing, to prevent officials from using their own discretions. Also, to make the programs more efficient, they switched from giving the poor cash to transferring money directly into their bank accounts to avoid leakages. Regarding the wage employment program, Mukerji discusses the introduction and use of the biometric attendance roll to resolve issues of false attendance and payments to the wrong people. He also explains their efforts at improving service delivery by adopting better recruitment processes, training and the use of information technologies. In addition, Mukerji identifies the significance of evaluating reporting formats and using them to rank the districts before their monthly meetings as a way of analyzing and encouraging performance by district-level officials. He also acknowledges the impact of civil society in improving the quality of implementation of government programs.
 
Profile

At the time of this interview, Anup Mukerji was the development commissioner for the government of Bihar.  He also served as the head of the Investment Promotion Board and other development committees that encouraged direct investment, private sector investment, and investment in infrastructure. In May 2006, he became the principal secretary of rural development, a position he held until May 2009.  

Full Audio File Size
57 MB
Full Audio Title
Anup Mukherjee - Full Interview

Shri Himanta Biswa Sarma

Ref Batch
A
Ref Batch Number
8
Country of Reform
Interviewers
Rohan Mukherjee
Name
Shri Himanta Biswa Sarma
Interviewee's Position
Minister of Health
Interviewee's Organization
Government of Assam State, India
Language
English
Nationality of Interviewee
Indian
Town/City
Assam
Country
Date of Interview
Reform Profile
No
Abstract
Shri Himanta Biswa Sarma talks about his role in the reform efforts in the state government of Assam over the previous decade. He talks about the financial reforms put in place to improve recruitment standards and salary payments, such as initiating a Value Added Tax program as a way of balancing the books to allow for further reform efforts, and overcoming the challenges associated with the these new reforms. He talks about dealing with different parts of society putting pressure on the government once the financial reforms were put in place and money became available to spend, and balancing competing interests. He also goes into detail about how the government of Assam dealt with the insurgency problem affecting the state through cease-fire negotiations, concessions and the establishment of tribal councils. He also offers his opinions on how decentralization and democracy can empower people and contribute to economic development. Finally, he discusses the need to stay up to date on all the relevant issues affecting the local community, to know the problems and stay in touch with the people to help build trust and advance the development process.
 
Profile

At the time of this interview, Shri Himanta Biswa Sarma was the minister of health for the government of Assam state in India, and he also ran the Guwahati Development Department. He held various positions and roles during more than a decade of service to the government of Assam. In 2002, he was appointed as the minister of state in charge of agriculture, planning and development before becoming the minister of finance in Assam in 2004.

Full Audio File Size
63 MB
Full Audio Title
Shri Himanta Biswa Sarma - Full Interview

Rajeev Chawla

Ref Batch
T
Focus Area(s)
Ref Batch Number
1
Country of Reform
Interviewers
David Hausman
Name
Rajeev Chawla
Interviewee's Position
Managing Director
Interviewee's Organization
Karnatka State Cooperative Marketing Federation, India
Language
English
Nationality of Interviewee
Indian
Town/City
Bangalore
Country
Date of Interview
Reform Profile
No
Abstract
Rajeev Chawla details the process the Indian state of Karnataka went through in digitizing its rural land records system through a system called Bhoomi and in promoting electronic government. He explains the successes and challenges the state government faced in training staff to undertake the digitization and in creating a statewide technological infrastructure to accommodate it. Chawla discusses the successes of the system in reducing corruption, increasing oversight, and increasing citizen access to electronic governance through integrated service centers and remote telecenters.
 
Profile

At the time of this interview, Rajeev Chawla was the managing director of the Karnataka State Cooperative Marketing Federation in India. From 2003 to 2007 he held the position of Special Secretary of Bhoomi, the government’s largest and highly successfully e-governance project, digitizing and computerizing access to rural land records. He won a number of national and international awards for the project. Chawla designed and began implementation of the project as joint secretary of revenue for the State of Karnataka, a position he held from 1998 to 2003. Chawla was also commissioner of service, settlement, and land records from 2008 to 2010. He was a member of the Indian Administrative Service for over two decades. Chawla earned a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur, in 1984.

Full Audio File Size
118MB
Full Audio Title
Rajeev Chawla Interview

M.N. Vidyashankar

Ref Batch
T
Focus Area(s)
Ref Batch Number
7
Country of Reform
Interviewers
David Hausman
Name
M.N. Vidyashankar
Interviewee's Position
Principal Secretary of E-Governance
Interviewee's Organization
State of Karnataka, India
Language
English
Nationality of Interviewee
Indian
Town/City
Bangalore
Country
Date of Interview
Reform Profile
No
Abstract

M.N. Vidyashankar, principal secretary of e-governance for the Indian state of Karnataka, discusses Bhoomi, a large-scale e-governance project introduced by the state to digitize land records and provide computerized access to them.  He details the process undertaken to implement both Bhoomi and a larger-scale electronic kiosk system to increase both rural and urban access to governance through one-stop shops. He explains at length the system to train data-entry workers and how the entire system is monitored. Vidyashankar also explains the benefits of the public-private partnership that runs the kiosk system. Finally, he discusses what he would change about the creation and implementation of the system, given the chance to do it again.

Profile

At the time of this interview, M.N. Vidyashankar was the principal secretary of e-governance for the state of Karnataka, India.  Vidyashankar previously worked as chairman of the Bangalore Water Supply and Sewage Board, chief electoral officer of Karnataka, commissioner of the Bangalore Development Authority, and principal secretary of Information Technology, Biotechnology, and Science Technology.  Vidyashankar received a master’s degree in economics and a master’s degree in philosophy from the Delhi School of Economics at the University of Delhi and also completed a master’s degree in business administration at Harvard Business School.

Full Audio File Size
32MB
Full Audio Title
M.N. Vidyashankar Interview