WHAT could be described as a rare instance in protocol-heavy government functions where sitting arrangement is well-calibrated and pre-determined, a cabinet minister of the Government of India was seen sitting behind PMO officials at a function held in New Delhi on Wednesday. The occasion was the presentation of ideas on governance, science and technology, and energy and environment to Prime Minister by three group of GoI secretaries. As this government-released photo shows, union human resource development (HRD) minister Prakash Javadekar was seen sitting in the second row behind three officials from the Prime Minister’s Office viz…principal secretary to PM Nripendra Misra, additional principal secretary to PM PK Mishra and cabinet secretary PK Sinha.
In Cabinet meetings held either at the PMO or at the PM’s residence at 7 Race Course Road, cabinet secretary always sits immediately after the PM on the left side whereas cabinet ministers on the basis of seniority sit one by one on the right side of PM. The senior-most minister sits closest to the PM.
In other government functions too, some protocol on sitting is followed. Cabinet ministers always sit in front of officials. In terms of rank, principal secretaries of the Government of India are below the rank of ministers of state (MoS) though they are much more powerful than the ministers of state.
In Wednesday’s meeting, secretaries gave their presentations on new ideas and those in the audience included Prime Minister Narendra Modi, his cabinet colleagues including home minister Rajnath Singh, Urban development and information and broadcasting M Venkaiah Naidu, road transport and highways, shipping minister Nitin Gadkari, defence minister Manohar Parrikar, railway minister Suresh Prabhu and agriculture minister Radha Mohan Singh et al.
According to a release issued by the PMO on Wednesday, the subjects such as citizen centric service delivery, digital inclusion, innovation, and simplification of laws, figured in the presentation on “governance.” The presentation on “Science and Technology” focused on areas such as improved opportunity and access for learning, jobs and start-ups, and ease of doing science. The presentation on “Energy and Environment” included suggestions related to various energy sources, and energy efficiency.