PM Grounds Secretaries

Prime minister Manmohan Singh has severely curtailed foreign tours of secretaries to the Government of India. In a letter to all ministers of Manmohan’s Cabinet on 19th October, cabinet secretary KM Chandrasekhar has drawn attention to the trend of secretaries (the bureaucratic head of a ministry/department) flying off for seminars and conferences even when it was enough to send junior officers. This, the letter says, must end and secretaries must attend such meetings only when it can be established that their presence was necessary to explain the policies of the government and only when they prove that this job cannot be done by a junior colleague. Mr Chandrasekhar’s letter which is ‘issued with the approval of the prime minister’ (bureaucratese for ‘prime minister’s orders’), sets out an eight-point guideline for clearing secretarial trips abroad. Three of the most important: a) the minister and his secretary cannot be out of the country at the same time, unless the prime minister is convinced their joint absence is necessary; b) no tours during Parliament sessions; c) no visit to be more than a week long. But the unkindest cut is perhaps the rule that secretary-level visits to non-governmental conferences would be allowed only when recommended by the external affairs ministry or an embassy. That is a killer blow on two counts: one, most of the foreign jaunts of secretaries are wangled through invitations from non-governmental bodies and, two, it means that the IAS lobby (which lords over other branches of the civil services) has to submit itself to the authority of its lesser sibling, the IFS. That must hurt the IAS ego more than missing the free jaunts abroad.

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RBI’s monetary policy depends on inflation in Dec: Rangarajan

New Delhi: Exerting that food prices are still at high levels, the prime minister's economic panel today said that the Reserve Bank of India's (RBI) decision to tighten monetary policy further will depend on inflation (behaviour) in the month of December, reports PTI.

“Reserve Bank of India will decide (on monetary action) depending on behaviour of inflation in the month of December,” PM Economic Advisory Council chairman C Rangarajan told reporters here.

He further said that he expected wholesale price inflation to fall between 5.5%-6% by March 2011 from 8.62% in September this year.

Mr Rangarajan also said that there could be decline in food prices in the coming month.

In a bid to tame inflation, the RBI had earlier this month increased its short-term lending (repo) and borrowing (reverse repo) rates by 25 basis points to 6.25% and 5.25%, respectively. This was the sixth time in this fiscal that the apex bank had raised key lending and borrowing rates to cool inflationary pressures in the economy.

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