The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Mother of all commissions

New Delhi, Sept. 29: Spurred by the Prime Minister's eagerness to reform governance, his government is planning to roll into one two commissions proposed to look at Centre-state relations and administrative reforms.

With terms of references covering a wide array of issues, the 'sky will be the limit' for the two-in-one 'mother of all commissions', officials said.

The merger will help the commission take a holistic view of legislative, executive and judicial aspects of governance. The proposal is at an advanced stage of discussion but will need formal approval from the Union cabinet.

The ruling coalition's common minimum programme had declared the Manmohan Singh government's intention to go in for a Sarkaria Commission-like body to study Centre-state relations and another to recommend reforms in the administrative set-up. But when officials started working on the drafts to set up the two panels, they realised there were bound to be areas where their terms of reference would overlap.

A senior official said the overwhelming view in the government is to opt for one commission with a 'very wide mandate'.

Given the Prime Minister's stress on improving service delivery mechanisms, sources said it is only natural that the panel would be given the task of drawing up a roadmap to improve administrative systems across the board, right from the Centre to the taluka level.

The commission, an official said, would suggest ways for 'coordinating activities at different levels to save time and money, meeting expectations of the people and efficiently using modern equipment, communication facilities and new forms of maintaining government records'. These, he added, were only some of the priority areas proposed for the commission.

The objective, he added, was to get reports from the commission that would help the government at the Centre and in states to become 'responsible, efficient and futuristic'.

Apart from taking a close look at the civil services, their relationship with the political executive and ways to improve professionalism, an official said the commission could be asked to offer guidance on principles to be kept in mind when the Centre signs international agreements that affect states.

Another area the proposed commission is likely to be asked to look at is how the Centre and states should function in areas specified in the concurrent list of the Constitution.

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