M A I N   N E W S

PM favours tenure security for bureaucrats
S. Satyanarayanan
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, May 20
In the backdrop of officials being transferred at the whims of political masters, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today favoured security of tenure for bureaucrats.

“On the security of tenure of key functionaries such as district collectors and superintendents of police, I do recognise that you are entitled to ask for this,” Dr Manmohan Singh said addressing a district collectors’ conference here at Vigyan Bhavan.

“No system of government can deliver if people are changed without notice. Short tenures do not produce the desired results,” he said, assuring the nearly 300-odd district collectors from across the country gathered at the national conference aimed at improving efficiency and delivery systems at the district level.

Noting that on this issue the Centre could not move forward on its own and that state governments would have to be consulted, the Prime Minister assured to take up this issue of security of tenure in the next National Development Council meeting as an integral part of improving the quality of administration and making it more transparent.

The Prime Minister asserted that officials should be entitled to a “minimum security of tenure” so that they could be judged whether they were equal to the task assigned to them.

Significantly, Dr Manmohan Singh’s statement on security of tenure comes barely a day after the transfer of the district magistrates of Bihar’s Siwan and Gopalganj districts allegedly at the behest of Railway Minister and RJD chief Lalu Prasad Yadav.

Expressing concern over the state of politics and politicians, Dr Manmohan Singh, who frequently deviated from the written speech, urged the district collectors to think about the country’s future as “politicians come and go”.

“I regret that all was not well with the way the political system was functioning...Many a time, politics becomes an instrument of self-aggrandisement and ceases to be an instrument of social change,” he said and added in a democracy, politics had to be a purposeful instrument of social change.

The Prime Minister, however, asserted that he did not despair, as one had to reckon with the realities as they existed.

Dr Manmohan Singh, who sat through presentations made by 16 district collectors and also received a model code of governance from Minister for Personnel Suresh Pachouri, appealed to the officers to have an abiding commitment to social equity, particularly for the marginalised sections of society and work to make them partners in economic progress.

Stressing the need for maintaining communal harmony at all costs, the bureaucrat-turned-politician said it was not only the constitutional duty and obligation but a sacred duty of district collectors to “fight the forces of social and communal divisiveness, of casteism and regionalism and other anti-national forces and tendencies in our body politic.”

Stressing that in the redefined role of the government, to provide physical and human infrastructure to enable individual players to compete in global markets, the Prime Minister said the cutting edge of a government’s functions was at the district and lower levels.

“As we sit in Delhi and try to design a template for a humane, caring and prosperous India, we are aware of the criticality of your role in this process. Your role is ensuring good governance at the grassroots, in promoting innovation, in improving service delivery, in enhancing public-private partnerships and in ensuring outlays become outcomes,” he said.

Talking about the challenges, Dr Manmohan Singh said today when the political process in India had got deepened through panchayati raj and broadened through societal action by NGOs, civil society groups and professional bodies, the test of good Collector was “his ability to work with people”.

“It is a job in which human resource management, strategic planning, financial management all need to come together,” he added.


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