Thursday, September 17, 2009
Imagine secretary Pillai or Chawla debarred from briefing press; but new Japanese govt bans bureaucrats holding press meets
IMAGINE home secretary G K Pillai being debarred from holding press meets, or finance secretary Ashok Chawla being told that you can’t brief the media on the budget or inflation! It may sound odd, but that’s precisely going to happen in Japan. In fact, Japan’s new government announced on Wednesday that it would stop holding news conferences by top bureaucrats because only elected representatives, not bureaucrats should represent the ministries. The newly appointed chief cabinet secretary said it after the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) Yukio Hatoyama took oath as Japan’s new Prime Minister. Mr Hatoyama’s team has former bureaucrats in it, but the government had already proclaimed that it would curtail the power of 3,60,000-strong Japanese civil servants. Significantly, former finance ministry bureaucrat Hirohisa Fujii is now the new finance minister. New foreign minister, Katsuya Okada, is a former bureaucrat. Naoto Kan, as the head of the new National Strategy Bureau, is however charged with wresting control of policy-making from the country’s powerful bureaucracy. Read “Japanese bureaucrats may no longer be able to practise age-old Amakudari; what’s about Indian retired babus?” posted on September 3, 2009. Minister S Jaipal Reddy wants bureaucrats to write books Urban development minister S Jaipal Reddy wants bureaucrats to write their rich experiences in book form as it was done by his secretary M Ramachandran. This is very much in line with the government’s recent decision to document books, articles, citations, and awards that an official has written or received, in Executive Record Sheets, or ER sheet --- the only publicly available document to track an officer’s career. Mr Reddy may or may not be aware of the recent DoPT circular, but speaking at a function of launch of urban development secretary’s book, “An Alternative Approach to Project Planning in Public Works – The Indian Context” in New Delhi on Tuesday, he encouraged civil servants to document their experiences by writing books. Read, “Government encourages IAS officers to take up writing seriously; medals and citations to count from now”, posted on July 22, 2009.