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Brush up English, PM tells babus

Top bureaucrats will have to hone up their writing skills. Ostensibly, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has been unhappy over the bad drafting of cabinet notes, policy papers prepared by different ministries for government approval. Aurangzeb Naqshbandi reports.

delhi Updated: Jan 06, 2011 02:51 IST
Aurangzeb Naqshbandi

Top bureaucrats will have to hone up their writing skills. Ostensibly, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has been unhappy over the bad drafting of cabinet notes, policy papers prepared by different ministries for government approval.

He has asked cabinet secretary KM Chandrasekhar to immediately address the issue. Accordingly, the cabinet secretary on December 23 last year issued a circular to secretaries in all ministries and departments to produce "good quality and defect free" notes.

"I wish to apprise you that the Prime Minister has expressed serious concern about the poor quality of notes for the cabinet and cabinet committees, and has, therefore, directed that effective measures be undertaken for improving the quality of notes," he wrote.

One such measure, according to Chandrasekhar, is to organise regular workshops to brush up the writing skills and focus on procedural aspects. Attending such workshops should be made mandatory, he said.

This is not the first time that the cabinet secretary has pulled up the top bureaucrats on "bad drafting or tardy submission" of cabinet notes after the cabinet secretariat, despite repeated instructions, continued to receive requests for consideration of proposals well beyond the specified time limit.

There were also reports that some ministers walk in with notes minutes before a cabinet meeting.

In his last circular on October 13 last year, Chandrasekhar had asked the secretaries to be punctual with cabinet notes and adhere to the time limit so that the system is not put in an embarrassing position.

"I have strict instructions from Prime Minister not to accept any notes after the scheduled time on the day prescribed. Hence kindly ensure that we are not put in the embarrassing situation of not being in a position to accept any note received later," he then wrote.

There are clear instructions that only notes received seven working days before the meeting of the cabinet or a cabinet committee will be circulated by the cabinet secretariat for the meeting, provided they meet with procedural requirements.

But in exceptional cases, notes are considered even beyond the time limit.