Continuing with his efforts to get the civil servants to take quicker decisions, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has convened a meeting of all secretaries on Saturday evening. This is his second meeting after assuming charge in May this year.
Government sources told HT that the meeting – tentatively slated at 6pm on Saturday – was a reflection of the PMO’s approach in playing a pro-active role in monitoring, and if necessary encouraging, them to raise the governance bar.
It helps that the PM, and his office gets key departments to spell out deadlines for their activities and then, regularly holds review meetings to track slip-ups and help resolve any unforeseen problems that they might be facing.
Apart from reviews carried out by the PMO and his one-to-one presentations with most secretaries, Modi has held two meetings to review the action taken by the infrastructure ministries and plans to hold a third review on November 5.
The PM has set the base for his frequent interactions with the civil servants at his 150-minute meeting with secretaries on June 4. He had heard them complain about political interference in appointments of civil servants and their worries that even honest officials who take decisions on merits could get into trouble under the anti-corruption law.
Modi had encouraged them to use technology for greater efficiency and work collaboratively to achieve faster results than just be satisfied at pushing files at each other.
He had also promised to address their concerns and delivered on them.
The Appointments Committee of the Cabinet set up soon after only has the PM and home minister. The PMO then went on to make it mandatory for ministries to select one official from a short list of three names selected on merits. During the UPA’s tenure, ministers were allowed to reject the panel till the list contained a name recommended by the ministers.
The department of personnel & training is also finalising amendments to the bribery law that will make it difficult to harass honest officials.