Monday, May 26, 2014

Narendra Modi downsizes ministries; Is he taking a cue from 2nd Administrative Reforms Commission?

Narendra Modi in a Gandhi exhibition (File photo)
IN A late night communication on Sunday, prime minister-designate Narendra Modi confirmed through social media sites that “various assembled ministries will be transformed into organic ministries for quicker pace of work and better coordination between departments”, a recommendation made by the second administrative reforms commission which the alliance-dependent UPA government had failed to implement during the last five years. In the 13th report of Second Administrative Reforms Commission titled “Organizational Structure of Government of India” which was published in April 2009, it was recommended that the number of ministries should be brought down to just...
20 to 25 by grouping together closely related subjects and appointing a first and second minister as in case of UK.
The release posted in Mod’s Facebook page on Sunday night said: “The focus is on convergence in the activities of various Ministries where one cabinet Minister will be heading a cluster of Ministries who are working in complimentary sectors.”
This is what the Second Administrative Reforms Commission had actually recommended. For example, the transport minister (cabinet rank) could be assisted by ministers of state in charge of civil aviation, road transport and shipping.
The Commission recommended corporate affairs ministry to be brought under finance ministry, textiles under labour ministry, ministry of Oversees Indian Affairs under external affairs ministry, new and renewable energy under ministry of power, and then coal, steel and mines as one ministry.
Here is an excerpt of the Commission’s 13th report to demonstrate how there could be just one transport minister rather than ministers of civil aviation, railways, roadways, shipping etc. Excerpt (page 93): “For example, ‘Transport’ is an extremely important subject which requires an integrated approach. Different aspects of this subject are dealt with in different ministries. The Ministry of Civil Aviation deals, inter-alia, with aircraft and air navigation and other aids relating to air navigation and carriage of passengers and goods by air; while the Ministry of Railways is responsible for all aspects of rail transport; Ministry of shipping, Road Transport and Highways deals with maritime shipping and navigation, highways and motor vehicles and the Ministry of Urban Development deals with planning and coordination of urban transport systems. Thus, ‘Transport’ as a subject has been fragmented into multiple disciplines and assigned to independent ministries making the necessary integrated national approach to this important sector difficult. Similarly, Energy is now being handled by at least four different departments i.e. the Ministry of Power, Coal, Non-conventional Energy sources, Petroleum and Atomic Energy. In contrast, in the UK, there is a single secretary of state (Cabinet Minister) for Transport and a single secretary of state for Energy. The commission feels that there is a need to strike a balance between the requirements of functional specialization on the one hand and the need for a holistic approach to key issues on the other. Democracies like the UK and the USA have attempted to achieve this by having between 15 and 25 ministries headed by Cabinet Ministers and assisted by other Ministers.”
It will be known by Monday evening how Modi decided to downsize the government and club various ministries. He may not exactly follow the administrative reforms commission’s formula, but it’s clear that the new government is taking a cue from the commission's recommendations, gathering dust in official cupboards.
“Keeping our commitment to 'Minimum Government, Maximum Governance' we have made an unprecedented and positive change in ministry formation,” Modi tweeted on Sunday night.
“Mr. Modi is eventually aiming at Smart Governance where the top layers of Government will be downsized and there would be expansion at the grass root level,” said the release adding that the PM-designate spent four days on ministry formation and discussed “various alternatives to effective governance, convergence and coordination between various ministries.”
“Earlier, there was political instability and multi-party governments, the ministry formation was almost done in a bifurcated manner…Shri Narendra Modi tried in a rational manner to club like-minded departments in the ministry formation in such way to convert entity of assembled ministry to organic entity,” the release posted in Facebook said.

1 comment:

  1. Downsizing & merging of Ministries is right step & need of hour. Modi Govt. has merged the Ministry of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation (HUPA) with the Ministry of Urban Development. Now Modi Govt. should take out the Directorate of Printing, Stationary and Publications out of Ministry of Urban Development and it may be placed under Ministry of Home Affairs. The Department of Official Language can be taken out of Ministry of Home Affairs and put under Ministry of Personnel. This will streamline functioning. Moreover at present Directorate of Printing, Stationary & Publications is neglected by the Ministry of Urban Development and are useful only for land grabbing.