iconimg Thursday, September 03, 2015

Aloke Tikku, Hindustan Times
New Delhi, July 26, 2013
The Home ministry has made some changes to the Padma selection process including a 800-word cap on citations for the government award but the tweak may not make the selection process any transparent.

The changes include an early deadline of 15 October for sending nominations for the three highest civilian awards Padma Vibhushan, Padma Bhushan and Padma Shri.

"Recommendation received after it will not be considered," a home ministry announcement said. The ministry did not clarify if dignitaries such as the Prime Minister and home minister too would be bound by this rule.

In previous years, the home ministry has exempted a select list to push in recommendations at the last minute. The home ministry also specified that a citation - that should form part of the recommendation - should not exceed 800 words.

The changes would make life easier for the officials who sometimes had to deal with documents running into hundreds of pages.

But RTI activist Subhash Chandra Agrawal who has been nudging the home ministry to improve the selection process for years insisted that the changes were still not good enough to promote transparency.

Incidentally it was Agrawal who has been pushing the home ministry to stick to its deadline for receiving nominations.

"The change will help make the process simpler but not make the selection process transparent," Agrawal said.

For instance, the home ministry makes the names of over 1,300 individuals recommended for the prestigious awards public but treats the identities of the dignitaries who sent their names as a state secret.

Agrawal said the stand of the home ministry bureaucracy was ridiculous.