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How Modi plans to change babudom

June 11, 2019 09:11 IST

The PM is keen to fill 40 per cent of the joint secretary level openings with outsiders.
R Rajagopalan reports.

IMAGE: Prime Minister Narendra Damodardas Modi interacts with secretaries of all central ministries in New Delhi, June 10, 2019. Photograph: Press Information Bureau

Prime Minister Narendra Damodardas Modi, who spent time with 85 secretaries to the Government of India on Monday, June 10, has told the top echelons of the bureaucracy that the Bharatiya Janata Party government is here to stay and that the BJP manifesto, Sankalp Patra, is its gospel.

Apart from understanding the issues and problems of governance from the officials, Modi also tasked them with getting adjusted to aspirational, young, minds, telling them that he wanted to introduce joint secretaries at a lateral level.

 

After winning a landslide election victory, Modi decided to embark on altering the approach of red tape-minded babudom, for which he plans to recruit joint secretaries from the open market to usher in a change of governance.

Modi is keen to fill 40 per cent of joint secretary level openings with outsiders so there is a mix of aspirational youth and regular all India service officers.

The PM plans to see this system in place from 2020 onwards. He brought in technocrat Parameswaran Iyer as secretary in the department of drinking water in the Union rural development ministry.

Iyer, a civil servant earlier, had resigned to join an international institution, but was persuaded to return.

As an idea, all prime ministers from Indira Gandhi downwards have brought in outsiders, but Modi will be the first to formalise the process of bringing in domain experts as joint secretaries.

The Union Public Service Commission recently issued appointment letters to 10 Indians who will be the first batch of lateral entry officers. After their induction, the Modi government is ready to induct another 55 officers at the joint secretary and higher levels.

But this task has been taken away from the UPSC and will be processed through the NITI Aayog.

According to highly-placed officials, the government plans to advertise for the direct recruitment of more than four dozen positions in NITI Aayog at different levels, including directors, joint secretaries and even at the level of additional secretaries etc.

They will have a fixed salary of over Rs 3 lakhs and a minimum five-year tenure, sources add.

NITI Aayog and other institutions have been hiring consultants on contract, but the new posts will be at par with government servants.

The proposed advertisement for these posts is veing drawn up by the department of personnel under the prime minister's office.

The PM has been inducting highly qualified professionals at the rank of secretary in Aayush, sanitation and other key departments. These posts are recognised as 'flexi-pool posts', for which NITI Aayog usually hires consultants as and when needed.

After the initial five year period, their work will be assessed and if found satisfactory, the officials will be given a further appointment of three years.

R Rajagopalan in New Delhi
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