All the Prime Minister’s men
We have a prime minister who believes in ‘minimum government and maximum governance’. No wonder that Prime Minister Narendra Modi requires a highly competent office to micro manage all his ministries and formulate policies that are generated by the ‘best brains’ in his department. As the reader is well aware, apart from portfolios like Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions, Department of Atomic Energy, Department of Space, for the first time the prime minister has taken responsibility on ‘all important policy issues’. I am trying to recall a period when the prime minister did not hold responsibility for deciding important policy issues.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, however, has preferred lay special emphasis on policy formulation. Perhaps this is why he has more officials in the PMO than his predecessors. What if Modi’s mentor Atal Bihari Vajpayee ran the country with the help of only 12 members in his personal staff? And who cares about the erstwhile Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who holds a remarkable place for India on the global economy for the work done in the last ten years, while having only 11 members in his personal staff? Our new prime minister has a personal staff, whose volume is more than five times bigger than Vajpayee or Manmohan. Modi has a personal team of 64, apart from 158 office staff in PMO, to bring ‘Achche Din’ to the nation. Don’t you think that a 222-member strong ring of committed officers belonging to different ranks is essential for a prime minister, who wants to change the nation in one stretch?
Don’t count the number of security personnel, intelligence people, following vehicles, standby aircrafts, etc, because they have been available to any prime minister, as per the requirement of that time. If you are a person with mega dreams on the international and national arena, whether they are achievable or not, you have every right to try your bit without blinking. Worrying for resources of a financial nature or principles and values should be the least of his concerns.
Since he’s aimed for those lofty heights, I have no objection to Narendra Modi’s PMO, where he has one national security adviser, principal secretary, additional principal secretary and another secretary to assist him. He also has a right to have four joint secretaries and ten directors to serve him. I also have no objection if his office has one joint director, senior personal private secretary and ten personal private secretaries to assist him.
To help Modi fulfill his duties as Prime Minister, among others, there are four under secretaries, one reference officer, an assistant director and 20 section officers at his disposal. He also has 25 private secretaries and 59 assistants, who are always in rapt attention to implement his orders. Modi is served by one senior Hindi translator and two junior Hindi translators. Modi also has one assistant reference officer and one accountant to look after his day-to-day work. In addition to this, there are 26 personal assistants. Our new prime minister also have the support of seven stenographers, 39 upper division clerks, five lower division clerks and one library clerk. Modi has another 64 people in his ‘personal staff’. They include two principal secretaries, one public relations officer, four officers on special duty, one information officer, three senior personal private secretaries, one under secretary, four executive assistants, three assistants, three personal assistants, two section officers, seven private secretaries and one Hindi translator, among other functionaries.
Atal Bihari Vajpayee had only 12 people in his personal staff, when he was the prime minister and Manmohan Singh had 11. They could run the country with such little help. It is imperative to mention that the White House has a staff of 468 that enables Barack Obama to keep an eye on the whole world, so that he can put himself in the service of achieving America’s mischievous and dangerous goals. I tried to find out the details of the members in the personal and official staff of Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping. However, I was unable to find any figured related to their departments.
One can be accused of jumping the gun if you began raising questions on a prime minister, who had formed his government only six months back. He had secured a thumping majority for the first time after three decades, considering the complex political situation through which our country has passed. However, the question does arise as to what can one call ‘maximum governance’ in a democratic country? Forget governance, there is no single definition for the concept of democracy. Different scholars since 5th century BC have given different definitions of democracy.
Whatever the definitions, one thing is clear. Any democracy has to respect basic human rights, political rights, civil rights, personal liberty, due process, welfare and equity rights. Governance in a democracy, minimum or maximum, would therefore entail participation, rule of law, inclusion, accountability, responsiveness, transparency and efficiency. I hope, these democratic values will always be safe in the lockers of the all time largest PMO, which has only one key. Fortunately or unfortunately, that key lies with Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The author is editor and CEO of News Views India