|Obama and Modi during Maan Ki Baat|
1. Thanks to the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan (Clean India Mission), many sarkari offices are no longer dirty. But I feel, we are losing the momentum, somehow. Swachh Bharat can’t be a one-day match. It has to be a T-20 for 365 days a year. It needs passion from every stakeholder—the peon to the cabinet secretary. Visiting the second floors of North Block or Udyog Bhawan will tell the real tale. Unlike the ground and first floors which are clean and well-lit, the upper floors in most government offices are still dark and dirty. Someone in authority should inspect the common toilets across corridors (not the ones earmarked for officers only, which are any which way clean).
2. No doubt, our present Prime Minister is a man of innovation. He often calls his ministers and senior bureaucrats for meetings and inspires them to innovate. But floating an out-of-the-box idea is the easier part of the job. What’s difficult is to design an implementable scheme out of an innovative idea. My appeal: kindly open the boxes kept in the corridors for innovative ideas. And then choose five of them across ministries and convert those into start-ups. And then appoint CEOs (not typical mission directors) and empower them so that senior bureaucrats and even ministers can’t interfere in their day-to-day affairs.
3. Indian bureaucracy today is a hard-working lot. Most bureaucrats reach office dot on time, but go home quite late. For senior bureaucracy, it’s no longer a 9 to 5 job. Instead, it is a 9 to 7, or even a 9 to 8 job (10 to 11 hours a day). Yet, I doubt, the outcome will be significantly different from what it used to be. That’s because the system does not allow the smart babus to grow. The government must give incentives to select bureaucrats (fast-track their promotion, give them awards, citations, and also monetary incentives). Let smart and highly talented bureaucrats get secretary ranks at the age of 50.
4. There is a lack of follow-ups in the government. Sample this: PM Modi asked all secretary-ranked bureaucrats to visit their places of first postings. Is PMO tracking, who all have visited the places of their first posting? How many of them have given their reports? Are there any leaning lessons in it? And, why can’t those reports (or at least the excerpts) be made public? This is just one example. Follow-ups are as important, or rather more important, than mere directions.
5. Finally, there are many an irritant in sarkari offices which the administration tends to neglect. If attendance machines don't work properly, there is no urgency in get those repaired. Then, take the case of monkey menace (a friend of mine calls it Monkey Baat). The ministers and secretaries whose cars arrive at the main entrance don’t realise the growing monkey menace in Central government offices like Shastri Bhawan, Udyog Bhawan, Nirman Bhawan etc. Ask the administrative wings of each ministry. A number of junior employees who need to walk in the premises have already become victims of unruly monkeys.