12 August 2019 ~ 0 Comments

Modi’s fresh approach to bureaucracy in 2nd term

In his second term, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is aware of the high expectations from his government. Passing the buck to the UPA era (or even further back to Nehru) will not cut ice. He will eventually need to show performance and efficiency. Known to rely heavily on the bureaucracy, Mr Modi is likely to continue his pursuit of changes in critical infrastructure, administrative reform and capacity development. The Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) remains at the helm of the decision-making process. Its dominance over the rest of the bureaucracy has been reiterated in the sudden departure of Finance Secretary Subhash Chandra Garg from his perch. It has sent out a clear signal to babus everywhere that Modi 2.0 is less likely to tolerate those who fail to read the new writing on the wall. Most believe that the Prime Minister will push for stability. He has retained much of his PMO staff and his key aides remain by his side. The functioning of the PMO is much as before, but there is a certain sureness or confidence about it that now comes laden with experience. A whisper hovers in the air, as always, about top-level changes being just a month away. Just remember you read it here first. Mr Modi’s work culture clearly is about direct access, simplifying procedures and eliminating delays in decision-making and implementation. He expects bureaucrats to think creatively and take risks. There are indications that a new personnel management policy is said to be in the offing where the staff has to be in sync with the administration’s priorities rather than banking upon the trust and faith in the regime as has been the case during his first term. This is so despite the fact that PM’s first term had shaken the entire bureaucracy with the induction of 360-degree appraisal formats, digitisation of offices and files, finger-print attendance, frequent reshuffles in bulk and premature repatriation of officers to their states. This may have worked in the past irrespective of what officers may have thought about the steps taken when Mr Modi assumed power at the Centre in 2014. Yet, now it is being viewed to have outlived its utility. Thus, most expect a shift in approach from Modi’s first term. With the huge mandate given to him by the electorate, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has joined the league of his as illustrious predecessors such as Nehru and Indira Gandhi. Like them, Mr Modi may too like to create history by looking for new ideas and finding ways and means to implement them. This calls for picking up a dedicated and focused bureaucracy for his office and some of the other key posts in Central administration. In any case, the Prime Minister is now more familiar with bureaucracy than during his first term. This time NaMo’s agenda is to ensure a distinct stamp of his administration through marked changes in both economy and polity by 2022 when the nation completes 75 years of its independence. Accountable and efficient implementation of pro-people legislations is the only method to take India to the next level and Mr Modi is keen to show the way.

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