iven that the first-time mantri is handling two of the biggest ministries in the Modi sarkar, he will be the busiest man in the Cabinet. And he has decided to keep his babus on their toes too!
Railway Minister Ashwini Vaishnav has introduced 18-hour workdays in two shifts in the ministry, a carry-over from his brief stint of two years in the corporate sector after quitting as an IAS officer of Odisha cadre. The first shift will be from 7 am to 4 pm and the second from 3 pm to midnight!
Among other things, the move is likely intended to please Prime Minister Narendra Modi who, we are constantly reminded, puts in 18 hours daily.
The order, sources have told DKB, was issued by Ministry of Railways Additional Director General PR DJ Narain and is applicable for officers and staffers of the MR cell or the minister’s office only. But rail babus dread that it may soon be extended to other departments in the ministry.
Vaishnaw’s move has created ripples across the Modi sarkar. It is felt that his new government culture may be adopted by other ministries. The IT Ministry is a fair bet since Vaishnaw heads it also. The Commerce Ministry is said to be interested too in adopting this work culture.
Is this an enthusiastic minister’s attempt to make his presence felt or will the new culture stick? Babus across ministries are keeping their fingers crossed!
What’s in a name?
A bunch of babus are very happy that they will be reporting to the most powerful minister of the Modi Cabinet, following the announcement of a new Ministry of Cooperation to be headed by Union Home Minister Amit Shah. The current shift from the Agriculture Ministry will be an informal one since the hierarchy of secretaries goes beyond the protocol list. Quite likely that Agriculture Secretary Sanjay Agarwal will continue in the interim, but Shah may ultimately pick a super babu to run the ministry. given Shah’s high-security status, quite likely that meetings of the new Cooperation Ministry will be held in the Home Ministry itself.
The Centre has said that the new ministry will provide a separate administrative, legal and policy framework for strengthening the cooperative movement in the country. This needs more manpower. And a new ministry will need bureaucrats and so this means more jobs for babus.
While there are grammar Nazis who question the name of the ministry claiming it is misleading and should be named Ministry of Cooperatives since it is all about the latter, it is not going to deter Shah from envisaging a larger role for the ministry than cooperatives.
Picked for the position
Dilli ka Babu has learnt that the frequent changes at the top in National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) have been a major problem since 2006 except for three years between 2012 AND 2015 when the then chief RP Singh served a full three-year term. Interestingly, Singh was also the last chairman to be selected through a search-cum-selection process.
A day after Uttarakhand got its new Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami, the Centre appointed senior IAS officer SS Sandhu as the state’s new Chief Secretary. But Uttarakhand’s gain is a loss for the NHAI. Sandhu was on Central deputation as NHAI chairman and helming Road Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari’s ambitious infrastructure push.
Gadkari now has to search for a new chairman and also fill two other key posts of Member Finance and Member PPP that have been vacant for several months. Given that Uttarakhand saw three Chief Ministers in five years, the new CM Dhami was allowed to choose his own Chief Secretary. Such are the pitfalls of being an efficient babu of the Uttarakhand cadre!
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