The Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi addressed a programme marking 20 years of completion of the StateWide Attention on Grievances by Application of Technology – SWAGAT Initiative in Gujarat via video conferencing today. The Gujarat government is celebrating SWAGAT Saptah on successfully completing 20 years of the initiative.
During the event, the Prime Minister also interacted with the past beneficiaries of the scheme.
Addressing the gathering, the Prime Minister expressed satisfaction that the objective behind starting Swagat has been successfully achieved where citizens not only find solutions to their problems but also raise issues of the entire community of hundreds. “The attitude of the government should be friendly and common citizens can easily share their issues with them”, the Prime Minister said. The Prime Minister remarked that the SWAGAT initiative is completing 20 years of its existence and recalled his past experiences upon interacting with the beneficiaries. He said that it is the effort and dedication of the citizens that make SWAGAT initiative a grand success and congratulated everyone who has contributed in this direction.
The Prime Minister said that the destiny of any scheme is determined by the intention and vision of that scheme when it is conceived. He recalled that when the initiative was launched in 2003 he was not very old as Chief Minister and he too faced the common refrain that power changes everyone. He said that he was clear to remain unchanged by the assumption of the chair. “I was clear that I would not become a slave of the restrictions of the chair. I will remain among people and will be there for them”, he said. This determination gave birth to StateWide Attention on Grievances by Application of Technology (SWAGAT). The Prime Minister said that the idea behind SWAGAT was to welcome the views of the common citizens in democratic institutions, be it in legislation or solutions. “SWAGAT stands by the idea of Ease of Living and Reach of Governance”, the Prime Minister said.
He underlined that the good governance model of Gujarat has found its own identity in the world due to the efforts made by the government with all honesty and dedication. The Prime Minister mentioned the International Telecom Organisation which presented the prime example of good governance by SWAGAT as e-transparency and e-accountability. He also mentioned that SWAGAT drew a lot of praise from the United Nations and was also conferred the prestigious award for Public Service. The Prime Minister pointed out that Gujarat received the gold award from the Government of India for e-governance owing to SWAGAT during the Congress regime in 2011.
“For me, the biggest reward is that we could serve the people of Gujarat through SWAGAT”, the Prime Minister said. In SWAGAT we prepared a practical system. The first systems of public hearings under SWAGAT were created at the block and tehsil levels. After that District Magistrate was made responsible at the district level. And at the state level, the Prime Minister informed that he took the responsibility on his own shoulders. This, he said, helped him a great deal to understand the impact and reach of the initiatives and schemes and the relations between implementing agencies and the end beneficiaries. SWAGAT empowered the citizens and gained credibility.
The Prime Minister noted that even though the SWAGAT programme was held only once a week, the work related to it would be done all over the month as there were hundreds of grievances. The Prime Minister also informed that he would carry out an analysis to understand if there were any specific departments, officers or regions whose complaints were registered more often than others. “An in-depth analysis was carried out where policies were also amended if needed”, Shri Modi continued, “this created a sense of trust amongst the common citizens”. He remarked that the measure of good governance in society is dependent on the quality of the public grievance redressal system and this is the true test of democracy.
The Prime Minister said that SWAGAT changed the old notion of following the established trails in government. “We proved that governance is not limited to old rules and laws but governance takes place due to innovations and new ideas”, he added. Shri Modi recalled that in 2003, e-governance was not much of a priority by the governments of the time. Paper trails and physical files led to a lot of delays and harassment video conferencing was mostly unknown. “Under these circumstances, Gujarat worked on futuristic ideas. And today, a system like SWAGAT has become the inspiration for many solutions to governance. Many states are working on this type of system. At the center we have also made a system called PRAGATI to review the working of the government. PRAGATI has played a big role in the rapid development of the country in the last 9 years. This concept is also based on the idea of SWAGAT.” The Prime Minister informed that he has reviewed projects worth about 16 lakh crores through PRAGATI and many projects were speeded up due to this.
Concluding the address, the Prime Minister gave the analogy of a seed sprouting into a massive tree with hundreds of branches and expressed confidence that the idea of SWAGAT will give way to thousands of new innovations in governance. He expressed delight that governance initiatives are being celebrated like this as it infuses new life and energy in them. “It will continue to serve the public by becoming a model of public-oriented governance”, the Prime Minister concluded.
SWAGAT (State Wide Attention on Grievances by Application of Technology) was started by the Prime Minister in April 2003 when he was the Chief Minister of Gujarat. The programme was driven by his belief that the foremost responsibility of a Chief Minister is to solve the problems of the people of the State. With this resolve, along with the early realization of the potential of technology to promote ease of living, the then CM Modi launched a first-of-its-kind tech-based grievance redressal programme.
The main purpose of this programme was to act as a bridge between the citizens and the government by using technology to solve their day-to-day grievances in a quick, efficient and time-bound manner. Over time, SWAGAT brought about a transformative impact on the lives of people and became an effective tool to solve woes in a paperless, transparent and hassle-free manner.
The uniqueness of SWAGAT is that it helps the common citizen air his grievances directly to the Chief Minister. It is held on the fourth Thursday of every month wherein the Chief Minister interacts with citizens for grievance redressal. The programme has been instrumental in bridging the gap between people and government through a prompt resolution of grievances. Under the programme, it is ensured that every applicant is informed of the decision. Proceedings of all applications are available online. More than 99% of grievances submitted to date have been resolved.
The SWAGAT Online Programme has four components: the State SWAGAT, District SWAGAT, Taluka SWAGAT and Gram SWAGAT. The Chief Minister himself attends public hearings during State SWAGAT. The District Collector oversees District SWAGAT while the Mamlatdar and a Class-1 Officer head the Taluka SWAGAT. In Gram SWAGAT, citizens file the application from the 1st to the 10th of every month to the Talati/Mantri. These are included in the Taluka SWAGAT program for redressal. In addition, a Lok Fariyad program is also operational for citizens wherein they file their grievances at the SWAGAT Unit.
The SWAGAT Online Programme has been given various awards over the years, including the United Nations Public Service Award in 2010 for improving transparency, accountability and responsiveness in public service.