The Modi-led government’s proposed move in favour of a leaner administrative set-up, with related departments being subsumed into super-ministries, envisages a larger role for the ministers of state who would head each department falling under the larger ministry structure.
With the role of the MoS slated to be broad-based, they are likely to be far more powerful than what they used to be in the past. A source close to the development told The Indian Express that “the Cabinet minister will be responsible for inter-ministerial co-ordination and interactions with the PM, the MoS will be entrusted with internal cohesion within the ministry”.
The possibilities being discussed include merging commerce with finance ministry, bringing road transport and highways, railways, shipping and ports under a single ministry of transport and plans to combine the ministries of power, coal and renewable energy into a single ministry for energy.
The structure will be such that if three ministries get merged then there will be MoS who will be in direct charge of them and report to the Cabinet minister. The source said that currently there is lot of overlap across various ministries, therefore pruning is a necessity. “This plan is feasible and if they can successfully implement it, then it will be a great move as it will enhance the efficiency,” he added.
A government official, however, told that this is not the first time that the government is looking to merge the ministries, as in the late nineties, the surface transport ministry comprised roads, shipping and inland waterways and the ministry of energy encompassed power, coal and renewable energy.
“It is not new and the Modi government may just be revisiting what Atal Bihari Vajpayee introduced in his government in 1998. This time aviation may also get included in the transport ministry and petroleum may get included in Energy,” said the government source.
Greater leeway to the MoS is expected to not only ease the pressure on the Cabinet minister, who otherwise could get heavily burdened after the merger of several ministries into one.