Cover Story

Producing Karmayogis for ‘New India?’

The government’s Mission Karmayogi is aimed at building future-ready civil servants with right attitude, skills and knowledge, aligned to the vision of a ‘New India’. A number of councils and other bodies will be set-up at a cost to fulfil this vision under the direct command and control of the Prime Minister himself. But what is happening on the ground in the past few years is just the opposite. Governance has been at its nadir and with the enslavement of institutions of democratic governance and the democracy is being shred to pieces. MG Devasahayam takes a look at the contradiction in vision and reality MG Devasahayam
Enter Vol.14 ISSUE 4-6 JULY-SEPT 2020

Within days of announcing the National Recruitment Agency, which will conduct computer-based common eligibility test for central government jobs, on September 2, 2020, the Union Cabinet approved Mission Karmayogi— “the biggest human resource development programme in the government”—for bringing post-recruitment reforms in civil services. The scheme aims to standardise training and create shared faculty and resources that would offer officers and government employees an opportunity to improve their performance.

Government spokesperson and Union Minister Prakash Javadekar said that Mission Karmayogi will help end subjective evaluation and ensure scientifically devised, objective and real-time assessment of employees. It focuses on individual (civil servants) and institutional capacity building. On this ‘Miracle Mission’, Union Minister of State for Personnel Jitendra Singh has this to say: “Mission Karmayogi is an endeavour to reincarnate a government servant into an ideal karmayogi (a man driven by his work) to serve the nation by enabling him to be creative, to be constructive, to be pro-active and technically empowered. The endeavour is also to end the culture of working in (departmental) silos; to overcome the multiplicity of training curriculum by the introduction of a common platform for realisation of the nation’s vision and of our shared aspiration and future goals.”

Going further, Department of Personnel and Training secretary C. Chandramouli said that the Mission is constituted to build future-ready civil servants with right attitude, skills and knowledge, aligned to the vision of a “New India.”

What is this grand vision? ‘New India’ Movement 2017-2022 launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi envisages India free from poverty, corruption, terrorism, communalism, casteism and uncleanliness and to unite the entire country by adopting good governance and using technology. Under this ‘movement’, the Government of India has launched flagship schemes such as Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT), Pradhan Mantri Ujjawala Yojana, Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana, Jan Suraksha Yojana, Pradhan Mantri Jeevan Jyoti Yojana, Atal Pension Yojana, Food security for poor, Deendayal Antyodaya Yojana, Mission Indradhanush, Swachh Bharat, Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana, Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana, Start-up India, Stand-up India, Pradhan Mantri Mudra Yojana, Make in India and Housing for poor, etc. ‘Aatmanirbhar’ is the recent entry. Through this, farmers’ income will be doubled and India will be a USD 5 Trillion economy by the year 2022.

The Prime Minister explained his idea of a New India and Indians, saying it should be a country that offers opportunities to the poor. According to him, “a new India where the poor do not want anything by way of charity but seek opportunity to chart out their own course … Indians today are not waiting for governmental sops. They only want opportunities to be created for them, so that they can work for their livelihood and prosperity.”

This ‘New India’ as Propagated by the PM had inspired the Indian Diaspora, who launched an unprecedented campaign with a large number of professionals working across the world voluntarily, spending their own money, time and resources to support Modi and getting him elected for a second term in 2019. These Non-Resident Indians, mostly from USA are probably behind the launching of ‘Mission Karmayogi’ to build future-ready civil servants to carry out and implement the ‘New India’ vision and agenda.

Mission Karmayogi programme will be delivered by setting up a digital platform called iGOT Karmayogi. Empowered with specific role-competencies, a civil servant will be able to ensure efficient service delivery of the highest quality standards. The platform will act as a launchpad National Programme for Civil Services Capacity Building (NPCSCB), which will enable a comprehensive reform of the capacity building apparatus at the individual, institutional and process levels.

To become a Karmayogi, one has to be trained from a young age and not after decades of service that has bred greed and a lethargic attitude. Let us look at the salient features of the Mission

       Laying the foundation for capacity building of civil servants so they remain entrenched in Indian culture while they learn the best practices across the world.

       Through the National Programme for Civil Services Capacity Building (NPCSCB), the mission seeks to transform Human Resource Management from ‘rules-based’ to ‘roles-based’.

       Through post-recruitment reforms in the government preparing Indian civil servants for future by making them more creative, constructive, imaginative, innovative, proactive, professional, progressive, energetic, enabling, transparent and technology-savvy. This will help end subjective evaluation, and ensure scientifically-devised, objective and real-time assessment of employees.

       Endeavouring to end the culture of working in silos and to overcome the multiplicity of training curriculum which we have because of the institutions spread all over the country,

Introduction of a common platform for uniform realisation of nations vision and of our shared aspiration and our shared future goals.

NPCSCB will be governed by the Prime Minister’s Human Resource Council, which will also include state Chief Ministers, Union Cabinet ministers and experts. This council will approve and review civil service capacity building programmes. Besides this, there will be a Cabinet Secretary Coordination Unit comprising of select secretaries and cadre controlling authorities. Also, there will be a Capacity Building Commission, which will include experts in related fields and global professionals. This commission will prepare and monitor annual capacity building plans and audit human resources available in the government.

New India Movement 2017-2022 launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi envisages India free from poverty, corruption, terrorism, communalism, casteism and uncleanliness and to unite the entire country by adopting good governance and using technology

To hold it all, there will be a wholly-owned Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV), which will govern the iGOT-Karmayogi platform. It will be set up under Section 8 of the Companies Act, 2013. The SPV will be a “not-for-profit” company and will own and manage iGOT-Karmayogi platform. The SPV will create and operationalise the content, marketplace and manage key business services of iGOT-Karmayogi platform, relating to content validation, independent proctored assessments, and telemetry data availability. The SPV will own all Intellectual Property Rights on behalf of the Government of India.

To cover around 46 lakh central employees, a sum of Rs 510.86 crore will be spent over a period of 5 years from 2020-21 to 2024-25. The expenditure is partly funded by multilateral assistance to the tune of $50 million. There will be a sense of participation by each civil servant by paying Rs 431 per annum as subscription. Besides the setting up of the SPV, an appropriate monitoring and evaluation framework will also be put in place for performance evaluation of all users of the iGOT-Karmayogi platform so as to generate a dashboard view of Key Performance Indicators.

At the end of the day Mission Karmayogi will produce the ideal civil servant-karmayogi with all qualities of head and heart to serve the ‘New India’ vision under the direct command and control of the Prime Minister himself! (See Graph).

In theory and on paper this Mission could cater to the long-felt need for civil servants to gather the attributes described above. What is unique is that instead of confining to the upper echelons of civil services like IAS, IPS and other Central Services, this Mission will cover all the civil employees of the Union Government and would later take in those in uniform also. Though not applicable to those in State governments, employees and civil servants working there can avail of the platform and take advantage of the services.

This certainly is a good augury for ‘New India’ and its governance. But the problem is the direction towards which this ‘New India’ is moving. Civil servants are only an instrument of governance and not governance itself which comprises of elected political leadership and the policies it lays down. New India Movement is supposed to free India from poverty, corruption, terrorism, communalism, casteism and unite the entire country by adopting good governance practices. But what is happening on the ground in the last few years is just the opposite. Governance has been at its nadir and with the enslavement of institutions of democratic governance, democracy is being shred to pieces.

“Minimum Government and Maximum Governance”, the slogan of 2014, which should have been the hall-mark of democracy in NDA regime, has been turned on its head with the imposition of a highly centralised and autocratic system sustained by a harsh ‘police raj’. Critical legislations/policies—Agriculture, Electricity, Environment, Education, Public Sector privatisation, etc.—are being pushed with breakneck speed with no involvement of the people who are the sovereign.

Over the last few years senior Civil Servants of the All India Services have been subjugated by the Prime Minister and his highly centralised establishment by adopting various devious and divisive means. Like many institutions and instruments of democratic governance, IAS has also been under severe assault. First came the steep reduction of the role of IAS at the decision-making level of Joint Secretaries in Government of India (GoI) and replacing them with personnel from other services that have no all-India character or exposure. Then came the proposal to trash the merit list for civil services recommended by the constitutionally mandated UPSC and instead allotting service as well as cadre based on the trainee’s performance at the Academy during the short Foundation Course. Soon thereafter, through ‘lateral-entry’, private sector personnel were inducted as Joint Secretaries to GoI.

Over the last few years senior Civil Servants of the All India Services have been subjugated by the Prime Minister and his highly centralised establishment by adopting various devious and divisive means. Like many institutions and instruments of democratic governance, IAS has also been under severe assault

Within days of NDA-3 taking over, the Department of Personnel & Training started preparing a proposal for inducting 400 ‘domain experts’ to fill Deputy Secretary/Director post in the Central Government. This constitutes 60 per cent of the 650 posts at this level under the Central Staffing Scheme which are currently available mostly to IAS officers. This is nothing but choking and strangulation of the service from within!

While so, poodles among these mandarins are hand-picked and rewarded with key and coveted appointments in the government and sinecures outside including constitutional positions. The only consideration is bigoted loyalty and almost slavish adherence to the credence of ‘yes, prime minister’. In the event, merit through innovation and creativity are thrown over the roof and mediocrity has become the mantra of governance. Instead of mentoring, reforming and rejuvenating, the IAS, which is the bulwark of India’s democratic governance, the Service and its members are being dishevelled and dismembered through the devious means of large-scale lateral entry of corporate candidates.

All these had devastating effect on India’s governance. For instance, colossal mismanagement of the Covid pandemic and the inhuman lockdown has led to a double whammy. While India is on the verge of reaching the top of the world in Coronavirus infection, its economy is at the bottom of the pit. Small enterprises have collapsed and millions are being pushed into joblessness, poverty and penury. And this is happening even when there is extreme iniquity in the economy. While the richest 10 per cent of Indians own 77.4 per cent of the country’s wealth, with the super-rich 1 per cent share at 51.5 per cent, the bottom 60 per cent own just 4.7 per cent and are out of the mainstream economy. With increasing number of millionaires and billionaires by the day, this divide is widening fast.

While swearing by the poor, central government for the last few years has been busy building up an oligarchy of super-rich favourites who control the market and the economy. This is being done by assiduously promoting a crony-capital driven ‘techno-commercial monopoly/duopoly’, which has been accelerated under the draconian pandemic lockdown. While GDP has tanked by 24 per cent, wealth of certain crony-capitalists has doubled or trebled. Now, with several rich Public Sector Undertakings with vast assets on the bidding block and available cheap, this monopoly/duopoly by the carpetbaggers would become stronger. Such perverse and perverted economy would bring the vast majority of the poor and not-so-poor to their knees subjecting themselves to the whims of these predators as to the pri By merging with and prompted by big corporate, ‘New

India’ is moving away from a ‘welfare state’ enshrined in the Constitution towards a ‘predatory state.’ This would require large scale parallel/lateral recruitment of ‘committed cadre’ to produce a special breed of ‘futureready’ civil servants, most of whom may come from corporate or saffron background. Obviously, after this high level of training and grooming, the civil servants turned  ‘karmayogis’ would be serving the ‘Corporatised New India’? Can this be countenanced? gce they pay for products and services they buy/consume.  EOM

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