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Friday, Nov 22, 2019

PM Modi holds bureaucrats accountable for Ek Bharat Shrestha Bharat scheme

A program close to PM’s heart, the EBSB is designed to promote national integration by pairing diverse states such as Punjab with Telangana so that the culturally different states can understand each other better.

india Updated: Oct 18, 2019 08:21 IST
Shishir Gupta
Shishir Gupta
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
PM Modi holds bureaucrats accountable for Ek Bharat Shrestha Bharat scheme.
PM Modi holds bureaucrats accountable for Ek Bharat Shrestha Bharat scheme.(Sanket Wankhade/HT PHOTO)
         

On the evening of October 12, PM Narendra Modi reviewed the “ Ek Bharat Shrestha Bharat (EBSB)” scheme with top secretaries of Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), Human Resource and Development Ministry, Tourism and other ministries. A program close to PM’s heart, the EBSB is designed to promote national integration by pairing diverse states such as Punjab with Telangana so that the culturally different states can understand each other better. This scheme was launched on October 31, 2015 under the Human Resources Development Ministry.

The meeting didn’t go well, according to some of the people present who spoke to HT on condition of anonymity. Indeed, upset that the bureaucrats present were passing the buck in his presence, the Prime Minister virtually got up from the meeting twice.

When Modi came to know that the Memorandum of Understandings (MOUs) between paired states were signed only in 2017, and the program reviewed only a year later, he called for accountability of the bureaucrats. He made it clear that the people involved in the program implementation had not done what was expected of them. He also told the people present that they had come unprepared for the meeting.

Hindustan Times, which has an account of those present at the meeting in the Prime Minister’s Office isn’t naming the bureaucrats. However, the Secretary (School Education), Rina Ray, a 1984 batch UT cadre officer, was repatriated back to her parent cadre three days after the meeting, a fact that is in the public domain.

The PM, the people present said, is usually very patient with and respectful of government officials. But clearly, they added, accountability is important.

The people said that Modi made it clear to bureaucrats present that while they may not be accountable to public, he was. PM said that enough time has been wasted in non-implementation of the scheme and that he would definitely see it implemented in his second term. PM Modi has now called for a review of the scheme at the end of the month.

It is understood that all bureaucrats present came in the line of fire after one bureaucrat tried to co-opt an existing scheme of Defence and Home Ministry in the EBSB program to save face. Modi saw through this immediately and said that the Prime Minister of India was being misled. He also questioned the supervisory officers about their capacities.

PM Modi told the unprepared secretaries that it is not his style to castigate bureaucrats but that the apathy of ministries towards a program that is designed to integrate the country, starting at the student level, forced him to vent his feelings. He asked top PMO officials to hold a meeting with secretaries on the program ahead of the next review.