In an effort to involve Union Ministers of State (MoS) in the decision-making process, the Cabinet Secretariat has directed all ministries to ensure that files are routed to the Cabinet ministers through the MoS concerned.
The departments have been warned to ensure that “no deviation on the ground of urgency is made”.
While such work allocation orders were usually forwarded to every ministry after governments were formed, this year the new paragraph has been added – it states that all files, including starred questions of Parliament and calling attention motions, will have to be routed to ministers through the MoS.
Earlier, most junior ministers handled relatively low-key subjects such as official language and unstarred questions of Parliament, among others.
According to sources, Joint Secretary, Cabinet Secretariat, Chandrashekhar Kumar wrote to all secretaries on June 7 and gave a template for work allocation. This is meant to be filled and submitted to the Prime Minister’s Office and the Cabinet Secretariat by every department.
The new paragraph added this time states that all matters, barring those that will be disposed of at the level of MoS, “including Starred, Unstarred Parliament Questions and Calling attention Motions”, will be submitted to the minister through the Minister of State. “However,” it added, “VIP references addressed to the Cabinet Minister will be submitted directly to her/him.”
Several ministers of state were not happy about the lack of sufficient work assigned to them in previous governments. Work allocated to most junior ministers earlier involved matters related to assurances, special mentions, laying of annual reports/rules/regulations, etc, authentication of papers; official language, VIP references addressed to MoS, or any other matter which the minister may like to delegate.
In the absence of delegation of sufficient work to ministers, their role in decision-making was seen as minimal, as hardly any Cabinet minister wanted his/her junior to share power, sources said. The Cabinet Secretariat has now directed all secretaries: “requisite order may kindly be issued as per the template at the earliest and a copy of the order may also be shared with the Cabinet secretariat.”
The template states, “It may be ensured that all files are submitted/routed to the Ministers of State strictly in accordance with this allocation of work.”
The new Modi government has 31 Ministers of State, nine of them with Independent charges.