Wednesday, September 09, 2009

LEG SPACE: Govt's austerity measures may make bureaucrats' lives miserable

THE government’s austerity measures have not only stripped off the luxury stay of external affairs minister S M Krishna and his junior minister Shashi Tharoor in Delhi’s five star hotels, but in fact will impact day-to-day lives of Indian bureaucrats too. babu blogger here makes an attempt to decipher fallouts of the office memo issued by expenditure secretary Sushama Nath, on lives of Indian babus.

Memo Says: In view of the current fiscal situation and that arising out of insufficient rain in large parts of the country, and the consequent pressure on government’s resources, there is need for further economy and rationalization of expenditure… It Means: Drought is a passionate subject and no bureaucrat in India will dare to lobby against the move. So, just accept it in the same way your private sector friends have come to terms with their salary cuts in the wake of global financial tsunami.

Memo Says: For the year 2009-10, every ministry/department shall effect a mandatory 10% cut in non-Plan expenditure under the heads: Domestic and foreign travel expenses, publications, professional services, advertising and publicity, office expenses, administrative expenses etc. It Means: You need to be “tight” virtually in every act of expenditure. Forget foreign junkets for a moment!

Memo Says: There will be a complete ban on holding of meetings and conferences at five star hotels. A 10% cut on the budgetary allocation for seminars and conferences shall be effected. It Means: Forget the luxury of attending seminars in comfort zones of five star environment. Try to adapt to old public hall culture.

Memo Says: No travel on government account by air will take place by first class. All domestic travel on government account by air will take place only by economy class, irrespective of the entitlement. It Means: This is the second shock in a row as you just forgot the luxury of Jet and Kingfishers’ business class trips thanks to mandatory air travel now only by Air India. Now, you can’t fly business class in Air India too!

Memo Says: The size of delegation and the duration of visit will be kept to the absolute minimum. It Means: Many low-rung officers will miss good tours and excellent hospitality breaking the monotony of 9 to 5 lifestyle.

Memo Says: Proposals for participation in study tours, workshops/conferences/ seminars/presentation of papers abroad at government cost will not be entertained except those that are fully funded by sponsoring agencies. It Means: Don’t worry. Just get those sponsored. The recession is not as bad as it’s made out to be. After all, Sensex is above 16,000 now from the lows of sub-8000 level.

Memo Says: Purchase of vehicles, except for operational requirements of the defence forces, Central paramilitary forces and security related organizations, will not be permitted. It Means: It’s quite sad if you were expecting a ford ikon to replace your old ambassador as it was recently done in case of a number of North Block officials. But the good thing is that ambassadors survive, at least for now. After all, babu blogger claims himself a follower of white ambassadors, and not of ford ikons! Action & Appointments R P Agrawal, a 1972 batch Andhra Pradesh cadre IAS, and secretary in the department of higher education in the ministry of human resource development will hold additional charge of the post of secretary, department of school education and literacy in the HRD ministry during the period of leave of Anshu Vaish, a 1975 batch MP cadre IAS from 9th September, 2009 to 21st September, 2009.


  1. Diifcult days.. but don't worry, babus will find ways.. bcoz official words of "if"'"but" "notwithstanding" etc. are always there for rescue.
    Dari Salam

  2. An interesting in depth analysis no doubt. But the two Ministers were spending their own savings, not enjoying the luxuries of five star hotels at the expense of the exchequer. We think babus are already well of after the implementation of the pay commission orders. Still rationalisation of spending will help a lot.

  3. Who do you think is going to succeed Mr RP Agrawal as the Secratary Higher Education at the HRD Ministry. Mr RP Agrawal's term is going to end in a few months, I a successor must have been already picked by Mr Sibal to replace him. Do you have any idea who could be Mr Agrawal's successor