Studious first-time ministers

Studious first-time ministers

At the first meeting of the Union council of ministers after the recent reshuffle, the veterans were slightly amused to see many of the first-timers diligently taking notes of the meeting which lasted for about 20 minutes. There have been several new entrants in the council of ministers, some of whom have been given independent charge of ministries as well.

At one point, even the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh took note of the rapt attention with which the youngsters were listening to him. Incidentally, the meeting was so well-attended that apparently they ran out of food.

Speeding to a halt

The Department of Personnel and Training seems to have got entangled in its own web. In order to fast-track the mandatory UPSC clearance process for taking action against Central service officers on disciplinary grounds, the DoPT had some time back issued a circular directing all ministries to authorise an officer "not below the level of an Under Secretary" to appear in the UPSC office "in person" to hand over such requests. The order applied to DoPT as well, it being the cadre controlling authority for IAS officers.

With more than 4,400 IAS officers serving in different parts of the country, the number of complaints DoPT receives is not small. But with just three Under Secretary level officers serving in the section that deals with such complaints, the DoPT's directive is diverting its own manpower. The Under Secretary often has to spend the entire day in the UPSC office with a case file. And what is worse, the new directive hasn't helped much in speeding up the process of clearing disciplinary actions.

Choosing house over hotel

Unlike most visiting dignitaries who are put up in five-star hotels, the British Foreign Secretary William Hague chose to stay at the residence of UK High Commissioner James Bevan, near the high-security zone around Sena Bhawan, the army headquarters. The British side maintained that it was not security concern but "cost factor" and "housekeeping issues" that prompted the Foreign Secretary to stay at the High Commissioner's residence. He spent barely 24 hours in Delhi and had a packed schedule. He would, therefore, have hardly spent any time at the hotel.

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