Recently inducted Rural Development Minister Birender Singh has been operating out of his residence, while his office in the ministry is being refurbished. One key change being made to the minister’s cabin is the door. Former Union minister Jairam Ramesh had installed a glass door wherein the minister could be seen by anyone passing by. However, when senior BJP leader Nitin Gadkari took charge of the ministry earlier this year, a thick transparent film was glued to the glass door, making the door near-opaque. Now, Singh has gone a step further and has got it replaced with wooden door.
After its media blitzkrieg on completing 100 days in power, the BJP-led government is now preparing to tom-tom its achievements in the first six months since taking charge. A letter from the Cabinet Secretary to secretaries of all ministries, sent late last week, asks them to list out all quantifiable achievements and major policy initiatives of their respective ministries in the last six months and document them in e-Books. Ministries have been asked to include multimedia graphics in the e-Books and have been told to use social media and other forms of media for wider dissemination.
She may have the reputation of being one of the few accessible ministers in the Narendra Modi government but Nirmala Sitharaman, it seems, is imbibing some practices of her Cabinet colleagues. She recently kept PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi waiting for one-and-half hours at her office for a meeting. During a meeting with a Russian delegation headed by deputy Prime Minister Dimitri Rogozin, she reportedly told the delegation to hurry up and invest in India or they could find themselves at the “end of the queue”. The Russians are learnt to have not taken kindly to the statement.
RAIL BOARD OVERHAUL
Railway bureaucracy is abuzz with speculation on the recommendations that the Bibek Debroy committee is likely to make on restructuring the Railway Board. The talk doing the rounds these days is that the committee has “formed a view” that Railways be divided into regional units, each comprising of several current zones and headed by a CEO who would be a Secretary-rank officer. The CEOs would report to the Railway Board chairman. Some have pointed out that this is a rehash of a proposal moved during Lalu Prasad’s time and was apparently scuttled by Railway Board members because they had not been consulted. Meanwhile, the official version on the Debroy committee is that it is still trying to familiarise itself with the workings of the Railways and visiting different locations for this purpose.
The emphasis on Hindi in official communications seems to be having an effect on visiting foreign delegations as well. On Monday, a UNESCO team came to the Science and Technology Ministry to sign a “Letter of Intent” for cooperation in the field of reducing disaster risks and capacity building in earth sciences. The delegation had ensured that the draft letter, which was signed upon, was both in English as well as Hindi.