Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday said that mobile phones were banned from his meetings because he often found officers checking social media sites in the midst of official discussions.
"I see these days that district-level officers are so busy, busy, that most of their time goes into it (social media). I have stopped the entry (of mobile phones) in my meetings as they (officers) would take them out and start (checking out social media sites)," he said.
The social media should be used for the welfare of the people and not for self-praise, he told bureaucrats at a meeting in New Delhi to mark Civil Services Day.
The world was moving from e-governance to mobile-governance and the best equipment needed to be used for the welfare of people, he added. Social media sites were helpful when they were used for spreading information about the good work being done.
"If I am informing the people about dates of polio vaccination through social media, saying that they should come out on a particular date for the vaccination, then it (social media) is helpful. But if during vaccination-related work, I am praising my own photograph on facebook, then it puts a question mark (on the work done by civil servants)," he said.
Modi, whose speech was often met with cheers and laughter, said that he was not a part of the bureaucracy because he did not get the chance "to attend coaching". The reference was to tuition classes which many would-be bureaucrats join to be able to qualify for the civil services.
If he had, he said, he would have become a bureaucrat of the rank of a director after serving the people for 16 years.
"It is my good luck that I am in public service for the past 16 years...I did not get the chance to attend coaching," he said.
As his audience applauded, he turned to Nripendra Misra, Principal Secretary in the PMO -- who was sitting on the dais -- and asked him what rank he would have reached after 16 years in service.
"Deputy Secretary? Director," he said, after consulting Misra. "So I should have come in the director category."
Modi added that there had been several committees and commissions on administrative reforms, comprising officers from central and state governments. "But all those who made all these reports, they must not have read them completely," he said.
"I feel that those working in this system have enormous experience. What you (bureaucrats) have, the kind of suggestions you have, no reform can be bigger than that. But we don't value this (experience)," the prime minister said.
Photograph: Manvender Vashist/PTI Photo