Women bureaucrats’ protests against appraisal forms asking them to detail their menstrual history has forced the Centre to do a rethink on the work review.
The withdrawal of the health questionnaire and its amendment are likely to be announced soon, said Central government officials on condition of anonymity.
Union Health Secretary Naresh Dayal told HT that the Health Ministry had clarified its position on the issue a day after the Ministry of Personnel asked for its comments on whether the objectionable queries should be dropped. "It should not be part of the performance report or performance dossier. We had devised a format on the lines of an executive health check-up (however, no such check-up has been announced for bureaucrats)," Dayal said. "The queries would have been confidential, known only to the doctor or institution the official is referred to."
HT had on Tuesday detailed the new appraisal system and protests by women bureaucrats of the Maharashtra cadre. On Thursday, the issue was raised by Bharatiya Janata Party legislators in the Assembly.
The initial protests led to the Women and Child Development Ministry headed by Renuka Chowdhury to ask the Ministry of Personnel to delete the objectionable queries. Satyanand Mishra, secretary, Ministry of Personnel, had set the ball rolling by seeking comments from the Health Ministry. "Since the format was devised by Health Ministry, we asked it to tell us whether these queries could be dropped," he said.
Dayal’s clarification on Thursday evening, in classic bureaucratic style, put the ball back in the Ministry of Personnel’s court by saying the format was never meant to be part of the appraisal system.
Women bureaucrats termed the turn-around a saving-face measure. "It was insensitive on the Health Ministry’s part to have devised such a format in the first place. There is a vast difference between an executive check-up and having such queries in the performance appraisal system," said a senior woman bureaucrat, on condition of anonymity.