Has PM Narendra Modi’s idea of directly interacting with babus come a cropper?

New Delhi,Iftikhar Gilani: Prime Minister Narendra Modi has taken strong objection to the government employees approaching him directly to settle their service matters. Even, though a circular was issued by the cabinet secretariat early in August, an office memorandum was issued by the department of personnel on Monday again, strictly warning employees that included from army as well as from para-military forces. An appropriate action will be taken, if anyone any more approaches the Prime Minister directly, says the memorandum.

Has PM Narendra Modi's idea of directly interacting with babus come a cropper?

But just a year and half ago, when the Prime Minister took over, his experiment of inviting the babus to directly interact with him was announced with much fanfare in a communication sent out by the PM’s principal secretary Nripendra Misra in June, last year. He thought he can get many bright ideas for reforms and changes in the governance from the employees that never reach the decision makers in the hierarchical system of the babudom. But the idea has been found ‘impractical’.

Some enthusiast who have already given their feedback to the prime minister on the working in their department are already apprehensive that whatever they wrote on the PMO website was sent back to the heads of department as the “grievances.” It landed them in trouble because of confrontation with their immediate bosses.

The circular was initially meant for the defence ministry staff and the armed forces personnel who were flooding the PMO website with comments on the ‘one rank, one pension’ issue, but it has been now circulated across the ministries and the government offices, making it clear that no government employee should get in touch with the PM, circumventing the system of approaching ‘through proper channels.’

It warns that the violations would be ‘viewed seriously,’ directing all concerned heads of departments to enforce the service conduct rules and initiate ‘appropriate action’ against those flouting the rules. The circular says: “Of late, it has been observed that government servants, including paramilitary forces and even army personnel, are writing directly to the PM which is a violation of conduct rules.”

Encourage indiscipline
Sources in the cabinet secretariat say even then cabinet secretary Ajit Kumar Seth had tried to convince Modi in June to direct the PMO to withdraw the communication sent out by his principal secretary Misra as he felt it would encourage indiscipline in the government offices if the staff starts writing directly to him or higher authorities without going through their immediate bosses.