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Cap transfer industry, Manmohan writes to CMs
Satish Mishra
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 18
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today took the growing menace of “transfer and posting industry” in the administrative machinery of the country head on, asking the states to avoid frequent transfers of public servants in key positions.

In his first letter to all chief ministers, he has also expressed a desire to make officials accountable for delivery of public services.

He has minced no words in his letter and has pointed out that the failure of the government to tackle the menace of “transfer and posting industry” will have a “debilitating impact not only on their performance and morale but also on the whole process of governance”.

Last month, a note had gone to the Cabinet Secretariat from the Prime Minister’s Office that no secretary-level appointments would be done without a clearance from the Prime Minister himself.

Appointments of new Foreign Secretary Shyam Saran and Director of Intelligence Bureau (DIB) A.K. Doval are illustrative of the Prime Minister’s taking keen interest in the matter.

In his letter, Dr Manmohan Singh said the challenges of law and order as well as development required stability of the tenure of officials in key positions. Maintenance of law and order was crucial in providing an atmosphere conducive to economic development and social harmony.

He said, “Development administration also involves learning, which, to a large extent, depends on the regularity of tenure.”

He urged the chief ministers to ensure stability of tenure of officials in key positions in order to ensure effective administration and proper delivery of public services.

He has also sought the help of state governments to collectively identify bottlenecks in the systems and procedures that limited the utilisation of the country’s immense potential. He has called for giving specific “timelines” for achieving key development goals.

“We have a large number of development programmes the implementation of which leaves much to be desired. Some of these entail suboptimal use of our resources and energy,” he said.

The letter, which is officially described as a revival of a tradition first set by Jawaharlal Nehru, underscored the need for making the process of economic reforms inclusive, both at the Centre and in states, with greater focus on agriculture through increased public investment and effective strategies for employment generation.

“It will mean ensuring equal opportunities for vulnerable sections like Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, Other Backward Classes, women and minorities. It will entail targeting investment towards backward areas of the country, besides taking into account the interests of the labour and improving the policy regime for the private sector,” it said.

In this context, the Prime Minister regretted uneven development among regions despite an impressive all-round progress that the country had registered since Independence. He listed continuing poverty, illiteracy, disease and inequality of opportunities as unfinished tasks before the government.

He said while refocusing on priorities, it was important that proper attention was paid to reforming public institutions.

He said reforms in the process of governance should engage the immediate attention of the Central and the state governments.

“It will involve energising institutions of governance and ensuring accountability in public services, transparency in handling of public funds and aligning incentives with desired outcomes.”

He assured the states that the Centre would generate funds for development programmes, but reminded them that their success would depend on the efficacy in implementation.

He said, “The people of the country require us to pay attention to development issues, ensure that growth and distributive justice go together, bring back compassion into our ways of thinking and restore to public life the waning spirit of idealism and sacrifice.”

He concluded the letter with an appeal to chief ministers to play the role of “visionary leaders” and called for “collective endeavour” in the best traditions of cooperative federalism.
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