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Cracking The Whip

Monday, January 11, 2016
By Prashant Hamine

So Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis has finally begun to crack the whip as far as the administration goes. First he has made senior bureaucrats go and do field visits of the government offices under their command. Secondly he has now ushered in a policy of hiring services of retired government officers and employees to tap their expertise in chosen departments. Another welcome decision that the government has taken is to lay down a policy on erecting memorials of national and venerated tall leaders, often source of ugly conflicts.

Although hiring of retired government officers and employees to gain from their experience is a welcome move, it is still open to criticism. First is that it can lead to cartelisation or segregation of the bureaucracy or administration on the ideological lines in respect of who is in power. Lateral entry of experts into the administration or political set up is not new in countries like USA or France where private sector employees are allowed to take sabbatical leaves to join government for a tenure and return back to their original professions once their tenure in government is over. The most glaring examples of that in our country has been former Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh and former Infosys head Nandan Nilekani.

In a bid to shake-up the Cooperative sector in Maharashtra which is heavily dominated by the Congress and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), the government has now banned tainted cooperative bodies chairmen and office bearers from contesting elections for a decade. At the same time the Minister for School Education Vinod Tawde has dared to take on the teaching community at large warning them to eschew the habit of consuming tobacco products while in class or else face the sack if they do not heed the warning.

On the Environment front the government seems to have woken up to the reality that the air quality over our cities has deteriorated over the years. By advancing the date for introduction of the Euro VI pollution norms to 2020, Union Minister for Environment and Climate Change Prakash Javadekar has raised a few hackles of those not yet fully prepared to accept their responsibilities in curbing pollution. It was little surprising then that even Minister for Finance and Planning Sudhir Mungantiwar would have jumped at the Odd-Even car formula being tried out by the AAP government in New Delhi.

But it has ticked off animal rights activists is the governments decision to allow bullock cart racing in Maharashtra. Although the government may have decided to vacate the ban, the decision will have to wait until the Supreme Court of India disposes off the petitions before it on the matter. When it comes to tackling corruption the government seems to be wanting in projecting an image that it is serious on the issue. Controversy surrounds over two government reports one in which the government apparently gave clean chit to former NCP minister Chhagan Bhujbal and the other having found him guilty. Surprisingly enough considering Bhujbals past Shiv Sena connections, the Sena has questioned the government over the issue.

Even after a fortnight after announcing a probe into the land allotment to National Herald at Bandra the government has not made any headway in the probe raising doubts over its serious intent. The government however, does appear to be serious over the much hyped Mumbai-Ahmedabad bullet train corridor. Again here it seems as though the Centre has moved way ahead in wrapping up the ground work needed to get the project ready for implementation. However, the state government may not be able to reap immediate gains out of it for the 2017 BMC elections as it is supposed to be completed in 2019.

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