It was a classroom with a difference — neither did theories weigh the students down nor did cumbersome discourses bother them. Students of the new sub-centre of the Kerala State Civil Services Academy at Government Victoria College, Palakkad, got a taste of pragmatism and political acumen as Chief Minister Oommen Chandy handled the inaugural class on Friday.

Mr. Chandy answered questions from students, Ministers, MLAs, and others as well.

A student wanted to know whether the Chief Minister was getting ‘sincere support’ from the civil service. Mr. Chandy said his style of functioning was one which demanded quick decisions. Such decisions may go wrong at times. But the officials would be protected if the decisions had been taken in good faith, he said.

The officials were encouraged to point out flaws in the decisions taken by the Chief Minister. Thus, they could correct the political leadership, he said. In parliamentary democracy, programmes and polices were decided by the political leadership. It was the duty of the civil service to implement programmes as per government policies, Mr. Chandy said.

The civil service should be made more efficient and transparent, he added.

There were shortcomings in the implementation of tribal welfare programmes in Attappady, Mr. Chandy said.

He declined to comment on the proposal to set up a monitoring committee to oversee the implementation of projects.

The demand for a State civil service could be considered if the trade unions representing government employees do not oppose it. They had opposed such a move earlier fearing loss of promotion opportunities, he said.

The Chief Minister said there was no shortcut to success.

Education Minister P.K. Abdu Rabb; Tourism Minister A.P. Anilkumar; V.T. Balram, Shafi Parambil, and M. Hamsa (all MLAs); and municipal chairman Abdul Khoodose were among those who asked questions.

The Chief Minister sat through a class taken through videoconferencing by former Additional Chief Secretary D. Babu Paul and former Government Secretary K. Mohadas from the academy headquarters in Thiruvanathapuram.