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Be on Time

Narendra Modi
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In his first meeting the new Council of Ministers on Wednesday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi instructed all the ministers to reach office on time every morning and avoid working from home, while also asking the cabinet ministers to involve their deputy ministers, or ministers of state, in all important decisions of the ministries. Two points are pertinent here. One, in a country where punctuality is a missing plot when it comes to government and even private-sector employees reaching office on time (there are some central government organizations too where employees go and punch their cards around 9 am only to leave office and come back conveniently around 10.30 am or 11 am with no bosses of theirs telling them to mend their ways because the bosses themselves are at it in one way or the other), to reach office on time has to be a matter of discipline. Why, when you are being paid handsomely, you must have that vital ethical element running down your arteries and veins to contribute and make productivity a factor to reckon with. (We are talking of productivity, and not just production.) Two, when the deputy ministers are involved, they will have a sense of responsibility. These deputies are not ornaments to adorn the cosy offices of the cabinet ministers. These deputies must play the role of a wing of the Executive dedicated to working in tandem with their superiors in the cabinet so that a collaborative approach to governance can be accomplished – as Mr Modi has in mind. Therefore, Mr Modi would do well to work on the doctrine of power delegation – that is, let the deputy ministers display their political prowess on the ground by supporting their superiors (cabinet ministers) and taking the load off so that development for the hoi polloi is real. Can this be expected? Well, the nation has an expectation to that end under the new Modi dispensation.