In what Sri Lanka can recall as examples taken from President Ranasinghe Premadasa, Indian Prime Minister has rattled India’s 3million bureaucracy with edicts that they cannot ignore. Indian bureaucrats are often referred to as babus in India have been in for a jolt. Indian offices are to be all about maximum governance and minimum government and just like President Premadasa, Indian officials can expect unannounced visits and early morning wake up calls! But, the Indian bureaucracy are certainly charged up. A survey conducted found over 70% happy with Modi’s shake up and feeling energized too. They are relieved too that they have direct access to him and orders are clear about NO Ministerial interference or influence. If successful, it would be a huge turnaround that would bring a thumbs up from the Indian populace as well as from external players and stake holders as well. Despite Indian officials chosen from tough competitive examinations the State apparatus has been ranked Asia’s worst.
- All bureaucrats have to report to work by 9a.m. – they may even have to work 6 days a week
- All bureaucrats are encouraged to use computers
- All bureaucrats are asked to think creatively and take risks to overcome administrative paralysis
- Prime Minister Narendra Modi declared that all official documents must be written in Hindi – attempting to wipe away the nearly six decades of dominance by the Congress party, traditionally dominated by those who spoke English at home and which had shaped Delhi’s bureaucratic landscape. Hindi is spoken by 45 percent of India’s 1.2 billion people,
- Bureaucrats are being watched – Modi government has asked for a list of bureaucrats who belonged to New Delhi’s golf clubs. Modi has also ordered the removal of all golf bags from Ministry offices after hearing how often some top bureaucrats played golf during office hours! No more lunches at Delhi Gymkhana and Golf Club.
- Bureaucrats are forbidden from extended breakfast/lunch breaks and even playing cards. Bureaucrats asked to resist interference by MPs and politicians
- Bureaucrats are to be alert and attentive. Education minister Smriti Irani recently pulled up a bureaucrat at an office meeting when she saw him fiddling with his cellphone while discussions were going on
- Top bureaucrats in government can if a good proposal is blocked by their Minister take it directly to the Prime Minister in powerpoint format as Mr. Modi hates reading long documents.
- Bureaucrats asked to clean up desk and get rid of unwanted files (officers are now clearing up rooms, corridors, staircases, broken furniture, unusable ACs). Officials in the two ministries have been told that an explanation will be demanded if files aren’t cleared for a week. The Home Ministry had discovered 150,000 unwanted files in their cupboards! The Health Ministry issued a statement saying that 35 steel cabinets, three water coolers and 40 chairs had been cleared from its corridors. The Ministry of Women and Child Development has launched a tender to auction off “obsolete/unusable/unserviceable items”. Modi has forbidden Indian offices to continue to be grimy places with red spit from chewed betel nut staining walls, toilets which are rarely clean and stinks, discarded furniture lying all over offices included corridors and staircases.
- Ministers and Top officers are ordered to do the rounds of their allocated offices every day at 9a.m. personally supervising the cleanup (Modi’s visits to Indian offices found – cigarette smoke in no smoking office rooms, dirty tea cups everywhere, litter boxes overflowing)
- Modi hosted 77 of India’s most senior bureaucrats at his official residence aweek after taking office. Modi gave all those at the meeting his phone numberand personal e-mail address
- Modi has also dissolved four committees that had been formed to makedecisions on natural disasters, prices, trade and subsidies.
The country has much hope in Modi in particular the Hindus, and rightly so. Nevertheless there are some grey areas that Modi himself needs to be aware of as well as the nationalist elements in India.
The first area is the extent to which foreign influence is being exerted.
Modi’s image is boasted by a PR company – APCO worldwide, the same company that created ‘Vibrant Gujarat’ and brought Gujarat to world stage. On paper, Apco works for the Industrial Extension Bureau (iNDEXTb), the Gujarat government’s nodal agency for investments. But for all purposes, it is identified as the public relations manager of the Gujarat chief minister.
Its success story also includes : being hired by Kazakhstan president Nursultan Nazarbayev to extricate himself from a four-year-long dispute with his former son-in-law Rakhat Aliyev, being approached by Hewlett-Packard Co’s board after accusations of harassment against its chief executive officer. APCO also handled crises as diverse as Merck & Co’s scandal involving Vioxx the arthritis drug that killed thousands before it was withdrawn, Apco has 32 offices, including in Mumbai and Delhi, and employs 600 people worldwide. Apco and Kissinger Associates (owned by Henry Kissinger) formed a strategic alliance. Apco also built a broad network or coalition of conservative pro-Zionist lobbyists and consultancy groups including Heritage Foundation, Frontier of Freedom, Jewish Policy Center, etc. APCO also supported George Bush and defended British Prime Minister Tony Blair’s unpopular move to enter the Iraq war. Apco’s involvement in various intelligence and security-related projects is done through its strategic partner and sister company Asero Worldwide. While Apco’s expertise is in the field of communications, Asero specializes in homeland security and risk management consultancy.
Ken Silverstein, the editor of Harper’s Magazine (June 30, 2007) described Apco lobbyists as the “crucial conduit through which pariah regimes advance their interests in Washington”
India and even Asia is happy to see a decisive Indian lead India. It promises stability and builds confidence in the country. But, with the ties to the Western PR agents, we need to wonder how much of these changes are naturally Modi’s or whether they are PR stunts only? We only hope that the changes are all in the interest of India and Indians and keeping India very much part of Asia without no threat to its neighbors. Of course Indians are looking for Modi to give a new direction to foreign relations but that new direction must be indigenous and by indigenous Indians and not one paid for. This is where the liberal economic policies will test how far Modi is actually India-centric. In a world where everything appears to be orchestrated and engineered and the public comes to know of these dirty lies only after the damage has been done it is better for people to start wondering and keeping an eye on every decision being taken. Sometimes leaders have pretended to be enemies when they were actually friends and pretended to be friends when they were really enemies. Of course the quick defense is that Modi is closely attached to and greatly influenced by the RSS (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh) a Hindu nationalist party and that continues to give hope. We hope that Narendra Modi will be a different post-independent Indian nationalist leader and not another stooge of the West in Indian suit.
– by Shenali D Waduge