Prime minister-designate Narendra Modi has asked the Cabinet Secretary to get secretaries of all key economic ministries to give him details of what incorrect policy decisions have been taken in their domain over the past few years — this could be in the form of specific decisions or in terms of the major policy decisions that did not get taken for one reason or another.
He has also asked bureaucrats to explain how, if they were given a free hand, they would fix this. Secretaries have been asked to give a near-term agenda and a longer-term one.
Among the ministries that have been asked to send a PowerPoint presentation to the Cabinet Secretary — 10-12 slides on the outside — are finance, commerce, industry and telecom.
Asking key ministries to prepare background notes for the incoming prime minister is not uncommon, but what took officials by surprise was the emphasis on decisions that should not have been taken or that did not get taken.
As per practice, officials have been asked to highlight their achievements and plans for the future. The PowerPoint presentation is also important in the context of deciding which secretary will get posted in key ministries. The move is in keeping with Modi’s running of Gujarat where, once a year, each secretary is asked to make a presentation on the key achievements in the year as well as plans for the next one.
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In the case of the oil ministry, for instance, the positives will include allowing continuous exploration that has resulted in several big oil/gas discoveries. The negatives, however, could include delaying the decision to hike gas prices after it had already been notified. In the case of telecom, it could include the stand taken by the ministry on roaming, which the Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal had sharply criticised as being misleading.