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Modi pyramid: maximum integration (and jargon)

The forecourt of Rashtrapati Bhavan being prepared on Sunday for Monday’s ceremony. (PTI)
The sights Narendra Modi will not miss if the weather permits him to take oath on the forecourt of Rashtrapati Bhavan on Monday at 6pm
If Modi looks straight, the soaring Jaipur Column will catch his eye. At the top of the 145-foot-high column is the Star of India. The column is called so because its cost was borne by the Maharaja of Jaipur to commemorate the creation of the new capital of India. The first stone was laid by King George V and his consort, Queen Mary, on December 15, 1911. The column bears the following inscription: In thought faith In word wisdom In deed courage In life service So may India be great
If Modi shifts his gaze to his left, he can spot the dome of North Block, the seat of the finance and home ministries
Further to the left is Parliament House, the “temple” where Modi broke down last week
If matters get too emotional, Modi should now look to his right. There rises the dome for which he has fought an indefatigable battle: South Block that houses the PMO. The external affairs and defence ministries are also located there
Look straight again, Sir, and take a bow. Snaking in front of you is Rajpath, passing by Vijay Chowk and leading to India Gate — one of the most stirring sights when a self-styled “outsider” like you visits the capital

New Delhi, May 25: Narendra Modi tonight offered an uncommon sneak-preview of how his ministry might look and the thought process that went into what he referred to as a pyramid-like model for “smart governance”.

Shorn of the jargon that is expected to appeal to the aspirational class and commentators, a note from the Prime Minister-elect’s secretariat suggests a radical restructuring of ministries and possible downsizing through integration.

The secretariat — a transition team largely made of officials from Gujarat — issued the note on the eve of Modi’s swearing-in ceremony. The note sought to differentiate the Modi systems from the boiling pot of whisper campaigns, skulduggery and similar methods that usually accompany ministry-making exercises.

Headed “Narendra Modi makes a dent in ministry formation”, the note suggested that the new Prime Minister would integrate some ministries — the functions of which often overlapped —into one cohesive department in keeping with his slogan of “minimum government and maximum governance”.

It spoke of a “good beginning for transforming entity of assembled ministries to organic ministries”.

A source deconstructed the jargon and cited the example of the agriculture ministry. Over the years, splinters like food processing industries, chemicals and fertilisers and consumer affairs and food and public distribution were carved out of the farm portfolio.

Each of the allied departments was headed by a cabinet minister, making the ground fertile for turf wars that led to red-tape ambushes and bottlenecks.

In the UPA, agriculture was looked after by Sharad Pawar of the NCP while consumer affairs and food and public distribution came under Congress minister K.V. Thomas. The contradictions became manifest when the government was drafting the food security bill. While Thomas wanted a version that matched what Sonia Gandhi’s National Advisory Council had blueprinted, Pawar took a different stand.

Modi’s note said the integration between the assembled and organic ministries would “bring greater coordination between different departments” and speed up decisions and delivery.

Modi’s team said his convergence template would mean that one cabinet minister will head a cluster of ministries that would work in “complementary sectors” and presumably avoid the Pawar-Thomas-like face-offs.

The note said Modi was looking at “smart governance” in which the “top layers would be downsized and there would be expansion at the grassroot level” — which carries echoes of what Rahul Gandhi had been saying.

“For whole four days, he was busy with the formation of ministry and discussing various alternatives to (ensure) effective governance, convergence and coordination between various ministries,” the note said.

Riding high on single-party majority, the statement added: “Earlier, there was political instability and multi-party governments, the ministry formation was almost done in a bifurcated manner.”

 


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