Compulsory attendance for PM Modi's I-Day speech: Yet another diktat for babus

Sunainaa Chadha August 05, 2015 09:37:02 IST
Compulsory attendance for PM Modi's I-Day speech: Yet another diktat for babus

In keeping with diktats on public holidays, the government has issued an order for Independence Day saying it is mandatory for all government officials in Delhi to be present at the Red Fort when Prime Minister Narendra Modi hoists the National Flag and delivers his address on 15 August.

According to a report in the Hindu, the order which was issued on 20 July tells bureaucrats to caution employees "that a serious view would be taken of their absence on this occasion." Low attendance is unacceptable since 15 August is of great national importance, the circular added. In other words, the PM wants a full house when he makes his address.

Ever since the Prime Minister came to power a year ago, key bureaucrats and some ministers have started putting in extra hours and sacrificing weekends in a bid to keep up with their “top boss”. Modi who claims to sleep for only four to five hours a day, doesn't spare weekends either and keeps several political engagements on Sundays.  But clearly a six-day week is not enough.

Compulsory attendance for PM Modis IDay speech Yet another diktat for babus

PTI image

The Modi government has issued multiple diktats to get babus to tow the line whether it is working on national holidays, punctuality, compulsory marking of attendance or learning yoga. And the babus were clearly unhappy. As Firstpost has reported earlier, "They were extremely upset that they even had to report to work on Gandhi Jayanti for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s cherished Swacch Abhiyan, and also about the rigour some of them had to undergo for his other pet schemes like Jan Dhan Yojna and ensuring that his interaction with children went live on Teachers Day last year."

Modi's catch phrase "na sota hoon, na sone deta hoon” (I don't sleep, nor do I allow others to) may have kept his Cabinet colleagues and subordinates on their toes but his insistence on the PMO being a part of all important policy decisions, as well as having the  last word on appointments like even ministers' personal staff, has made the bureaucracy rather frustrated.

Here's other diktats that the government has issued so far:

Perform yoga asanas at designated locations on International Yoga Day

On 21 June, which was celebrated as International Day of Yoga, the government had made it compulsory for all officials to attend and even do yoga asanas at designated places.

No speaking to the media

In July, the government cracked down on free movement of journalists in the Union home ministry and issued a gag order on bureaucrats restraining them from sharing information with journalists.The Union home ministry passed an official order on the instructions of Union home secretary LC Goyal curtailing the movement, interaction and access of the media. The order was later softened after journlists protested.

Governors can't leave states without telling President

In April, the Centre put restrictions on the travel of governors saying they have to stay in their respective states for at least 292 days in a year and can't stay away from office unless approved by the President. The order came after it was noticed that some of the governors used to stay outside their respective states for a considerable amount of time.

Babus need government nod before accepting gifts of over Rs 5,000

The government issued a directive in April barring bureaucrats from accepting gifts worth over Rs 5000 without obtaining the government's nod. This included transportation, boarding and lodging, worth more than Rs 5,000. According to the amended all-India services rules, they also need to inform the government if they accept gifts worth over Rs 25,000 from their relatives or friends.

Even foreign trips of officials are under scrutiny

The PMO has made it mandatory for officials going on foreign tours to submit an "outcome report" when they return. Foreign junkets are also being discouraged by the Prime Minister. Moreover, ministers were asked to cut back on expenditure.

Some of the orders under this included:
- Travel Economy Class Air
- Buy No New Cars
- No Meetings in Five Star Hotels.
-Ministers need PMO’s approval for office expenditure exceeding Rs. 1 Lakh

Biometric attendance and surprise inspections. 

In 2014,  the biometric attendance system was made compulsory and put online.  Modi has ensured that the officials report to work at 9.30 am sharp and an analysis of the biometric attendance system now up and running shows that bureaucrats are spending nearly twenty minutes extra in office every day.

In the beginning, several Ministers made surprise inspections to see whether their staff had reported by 9.15 in the morning. Offices of some key ministers would be remain open till nine in the evening or even later.

Compulsory attendance on Gandhi Jayanti, Christmas, Shivratri

Central Government officials attended office on Gandhi Jayanti (2 October) as part of the Swachch Bharat Abhiyan, despite it being Durga Ashatami, in 2014. Christmas Day (25 December) became ‘Good Governance Day’, whereupon officials of the rank of Under Secretary and above had to attend office. Even Shivratri (17 February) was not a gazetted holiday, despite the Prime Minister being a great devotee of Lord Shiva.

PM's insistence on using Hindi as the official language in correspondence

PM Modi asking officials to use Hindi on social media and in government letters reportedly did not go down well with the ministers and the bureaucracy also. The Home Ministry had in May 2015 ordered all bureaucrats to prioritise Hindi over English on official social media accounts. After a massive uproar, the government softened its stand and said the earlier order was applicable only to Hindi-speaking states.

Don't appoint officers as personal staff who served in UPA govt

A month after coming to power, the government had asked all its ministers not to appoint officials who had served in key positions in the United Progressive Alliance government as their personal staff.

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