Believe It: International Jurists Award To Shinde!
The communiqué that the former Home Minister of India Sushilkumar Shinde has been selected for prestigious International Jurists Award-2014 for law and order made many raise their eyebrows while others smiled quizzically. Mr. Shinde has been selected, elaborated the press release for “his fearless measures to combat terror and organised crime. His exemplary efforts have earned international distinction for making a far-reaching impact on the landscape of crime in his country”.
His constituents who defeated him at the recent general elections must be most bewildered. For they voted against him allegedly for failing as Home Minister to control law and order.
But nevertheless he is in exalted company. In the press release by Dr. Adish C. Aggarwala, Senior Advocate President, International Council of Jurists, President, International Commission of Writers All India Bar Association and Chairman, India Legal Information Institute and Special Counsel for Government of India, along with Shinde, the President of the International Court of Justice Mr Peter Tomka has been selected for “his exemplary and far-reaching contribution to the peaceful settlement of international disputes in accordance with principles of international law, and thereby avoiding conflicts and regulating the conduct of nations”.
Chancellor of Amity University Dr. Ashok Chauhan has been selected for the award for “his life-time passionate and dedicated contribution to the field of legal education in different parts of the world, which has influenced innumerable lives”.
Earlier, Indian recipients of the International Jurists Awards include : Mr. Mulayam Singh Yadav, former Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, Mr. Ram Jethmalani, former Law Minister of India, Mr. Rohit Kochhar of Kochhar & Co. and Mr. Rajiv K. Luthra of Luthra & Luthra.
Under Modi No Indian Sir Humphreys
At the lush green golf courses at the elite Delhi Golf Club, Secretaries of the Government of India are conspicuously absent. Blame this to Jaichands among them. One carried the tale to someone who could convey the report that some secretaries regularly play golf. Then a bath and breakfast at the Club before they are driven down to their offices hardly 15 to 29 minutes away. The Delhi Golf Club has reportedly about 200 bureaucrats as members. Many would put in a quick morning round and sometimes, weather permitting, even in the afternoon during the working week. It is said that a list of officers who played golf regularly was ordered to be compiled.
Thus their golfing days are over. They reach the coveted post of secretary after 30 to 33 years in service. Golf is considered a sinecure, after a long and hard toil, they find an escape from the dreary hours of poring over files and making notes, which is always a bit risky. Golf provides them a couple of hours of relaxation. But now it is all over.
Life for government servants has become a little harder (to put it politely) under Modi government—they’re expected to clock in on time, stay late when needed. Even give up holidays if need be. This has cut out the little pleasures in life such as leisurely lunches at Delhi Gymkhana, India International Centre and Golf Club. Employees at a defence ministry office in Delhi were recently asked to sign up to a notice pledging that they would be in by 9am or face disciplinary action. The days of reaching office by 11am are in the past. An Additional Secretary said, “I leave for office at 8.45 in the morning. My wife does not now ask me when I would be back. She knows I would come back only after all the files marked for the day are dealt with.” At 9am, outside the bhavans that house the main government departments, there’s a stream of employees running in to beat the clock. Delays can mean getting a piece of the boss’ mind. At the housing ministry, employees have to report to their superior if they are late by more than 15 minutes. Biometric scanners track attendance and regular latecomers will get a notice after six months.
Even in office they have to concentrate on work, rather than pass time chatting on mobiles. It was reported that HRD Minister Smriti Irani pulled up a bureaucrat at an office meeting when she saw him fiddling with his cellphone while discussions were going on. Such discipline will surely make Indian bureaucracy more efficient, having been ranked the worst among 12 Asian countries for more than a decade by the Hong Kong-based Political & Economic Risk Consultancy. “We have been told files can’t wait on a table for more than two days, and an explanation will be sought if a file isn’t cleared for a week,” told a senior government official to a daily. All these strict rules have been introduced because Narendra Modi was not very impressed with the initial one-to-one meeting with secretaries at the Centre. In the presentations made before him by secretaries, they only indicated their ministries’ mandate and vision. They talked about their department’s plans and proposals for the next 100 days, but not the impact. The PM was more interested in learning the outcome of the proposals and how the ministries intend to measure this. “He wants results of every paisa the government spends and the statistical measurement,” a secretary-level official in the government said. Modii is keen that ministries measure outcome with May 2014 as the base as promised by him in BJP Parliamentary Party meeting. “If a new scheme is being proposed, the secretaries have to state how many people it would benefit.”
No en masse change in the bureaucracy is expected. It is not Modi’s style. He has in fact told secretaries to decide on their own and he would back them. Only when some fail to perform after all the autonomy that one would perish.
One thing we are sure. After a long time Indian bureaucracy, golf-less and pleasure-less, would one day match the best civil service anywhere in the world.
Governors Go…Hopefuls Getting Impatient
Oliver Cromwell told the House of Commons members “For God’s sake Go…,” the NDA government has told the UPA-appointed governors, “For propriety sake, go,” but the Congress Party has seriously objected to the marching order (or advice?) saying: “Propriety is to let the governors continue.” And thereby we have a seemingly Gordian knot.
One is told that the hopefuls for gubernatorial gaddis are making life of Modi and Rajnath Singh miserable. They have been shown the carrot and they want it instantly. The precedence, set in 1977 by the Janata P:arty government is that governors appointed by the previous government resign. In 2004 UPA on coming to power secured resignations from Haryana’s Governor Babu Parmanand, Uttar Pradesh’s Vishnu Kant Shastri, Goa’s Kidar Nath Sahani and Gujarat’s Kailashpati Mishra. They were replaced by the UPA nominees. In 1980, it was argued that the governors are in office at the ‘pleasure’ of the President, as per Art 156(1). It is the Cabinet that advises the President to withdraw his pleasure and the Governor has to leave.
But in 2010 the Supreme Court differed, concluding, that the government cannot arbitrarily transfer appointed governors without ‘compelling’ reasons. “It follows, therefore, that a change in government at the Centre is not a ground for removal of governors holding office to make way for others favoured by the new government.”
But the fact is that all these rules, Supreme Court directives and citing of precedence hide the basic rule, which is that all parties, once they come to power, feel obliged to provide ‘jobs’ to the veterans who can no longer serve in the government or the Party. The Governor’s post carries privileges and perks for the incumbent to live in luxury and basically no mandated responsibility. Such jobs are 29 in India. If NDA is anxious for governors to go, its less in spirit of vengeance and more a bid to oblige its own seniors. They are all waiting—and a few seniors are losing patience.
But Modi would do immense good if for a few of 29 posts, meritorious persons are nominated. It would make the post, a non-political one.