As the Narendra Modi government will soon complete its first month in office, the bureaucracy is adapting to a new work culture with stress on punctuality, efficiency, decision-making and meeting deadlines.
After his June 4 meeting with the Secretaries to various Ministries, the Prime Minister asked them to use technology for greater efficiency and effectiveness in administration. But what enthused senior officials more is Mr. Modi’s faith in their commitment to, and competence in, building a better future for the country and his promise to stand by them.
“We now feel that the Prime Minister himself is backing us in our decisions, which we can take without any fear or favour; it’s a great morale booster for senior bureaucrats who now feel more confident,” said a senior government official, who requested anonymity.
With the Prime Minister asking senior bureaucrats to do away with archaic rules and procedures and evolve people-friendly administrative rules, officials are busy identifying at least a dozen rules or procedures that can either be simplified or done away with.
Though not appearing to be in a hurry for a shake-up, the Modi government made its first high-level bureaucratic reshuffle by replacing Revenue Secretary Rajiv Takru with Fertilizer Secretary Shantikanta Das. Mr. Takru, who was Revenue Secretary since March, has been shifted to the Ministry of Development of the North-Eastern Region. The move came even as the Finance Ministry is busy preparing the maiden Budget of the new government.
In yet another key appointment, Rajeev Nayan Choubey, a Tamil Nadu-cadre IAS officer, has been posted as Additional Secretary in the Prime Minister’s Office. He replaces Shatrughna Singh, who has been shifted to the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion in place of Anjali Prasad, who was appointed India’s Ambassador to the World Trade Organisation. Former Agriculture Secretary P.K. Mishra, who had earlier served in Gujarat, has been appointed Additional Principal Secretary, a new post created in the PMO.
Apart from ensuring attendance of all officials strictly by 9 a.m. every day, the senior officials are supervising the general upkeep of office premises.
As the new government’s emphasis on technology is all too evident, e-files, though introduced by the United Progressive Alliance government but never implemented seriously, are being encouraged right from the level of section officers.
“There are file trackers to track a file and ensure there are no unnecessary delays. Most important is the timeline of files which has to be adhered to strictly, and while electronically clearing files and uploading scanned documents, movement can also be tracked easily,” an official said.
The stress is on general improvement of the workplace to result in a better work culture and efficient services to the citizens, officials said.