1. Centre to wind up government funded autonomous bodies? Here is what is on the agenda

Centre to wind up government funded autonomous bodies? Here is what is on the agenda

A third of the government-funded autonomous bodies may either be wound up or merged with others while several others may have to stand on their own feet, as the government is embarking on an overhaul of these bodies to cut wasteful spending.

By: | New Delhi | Updated: September 28, 2017 6:32 AM
administrative ministry, Ratan P Watal, autonomous bodies, Comptroller and Auditor General, Indian Council of Historical Research, Reserve Bank of India, bimal jain, expenditure management commission A committee headed by former finance secretary Ratan P Watal has found much scope for reducing these bodies’ flab, even as it is undertaking an administrative ministry-wise cost-benefit analysis of them. (IE)

A third of the government-funded autonomous bodies may either be wound up or merged with others while several others may have to stand on their own feet, as the government is embarking on an overhaul of these bodies to cut wasteful spending. A committee headed by former finance secretary Ratan P Watal has found much scope for reducing these bodies’ flab, even as it is undertaking an administrative ministry-wise cost-benefit analysis of them. There are as many as 679 such bodies directly funded by the Centre now — up from less than 50 in 1950s — as successive governments have created new organisations aimed at promoting research, higher education, welfare and regulatory wherewithal. While a large number of these are contributing in good measure to nation-building, several have outlived their utility and become a drain on the exchequer.

According to the 2017-18 Budget, outlays to these bodies is a staggering Rs 72,200 crore, up from Rs 63,975 crore last year. Over 40% of the funds allocated to these bodies are used for payment of salaries. Official sources said the Watal panel, which includes representatives from the Prime Minister’s Office, finance ministry, law ministry and the Comptroller and Auditor General, among others, has submitted an interim report to the prime minister recently. One of its recommendations, the sources said, is to merge 40 of the 114 institutions belonging to five ministries including the culture, sports, health and higher education with other similar-profile institutions. In the second round, the panel is currently scrutinising autonomous bodies attached to the departments of science & technology, scientific and industrial research, women and child development, biotechnology and school education. Once created, the entities keep on surviving, many of them not serving any meaningful purpose. Some bodies created during Asian Games in India in 1982, for instance, was shut down only recently.

The sources said some of these institutions such as those providing consultancy could be converted into companies. The staff of the entities that will be merged with others or closed,would be rehabilitated. The autonomous bodies funded by the Centre include premier educational/research institutions like the Indian Institute of Technology, Indian Institutes of Management, Indian Institute of Science, Indian Council of Agricultural Research, Indian Council of Historical Research, etc, regulators like the University Grants Commission, AICTE, MCI and ICMR, think tanks like National Institute of Public Finance and Policy and Institute of Economic Growth, bodies in the infrastructure space like PNGRB and numerous other entities including the likes of National School of Drama, Lalit Kala Akademi, etc. Though the Centre spends huge sums on these entities, it has little centralised data on what they are doing, their current relevance and whether similar jobs are done by multiple institutions.

The expenditure management commission (EMC) headed by former Reserve Bank of India governor Bimal Jalan had highlighted the need for periodic reviews of the working of the autonomous bodies under various ministries with a view to examining the scope for their “mergers, disengagement, closure or corporatisation”. The EMC had also suggested reviewing grants made to autonomous bodies and linking it to their performance. Acting on the recommendations of the EMC, the department of expenditure has already asked the autonomous bodies including ICAR to levy adequate user charges to reduce burden on the exchequer.

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    Pradeep
    Oct 6, 2017 at 1:32 pm
    No doubt it's a good move as far as non-peforming. The same yardstick should be applied even to our decision making bodies. When Parliament/assemblies doesn't work the expenditure should be booked to the respective political parties.
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      R R Soni
      Sep 30, 2017 at 12:13 pm
      This is difficult. First, Political leaders and it party should reduce expenses. First they obey discipline. CBWE is under MOLE. It is giving wonderful job on behalf of central govt department by creating awareness programme econonic and social development and upgrading society which is Govt work. Most of wasteful expenses of CBWE is TA DA of chairman and GB Committee members. in addition to this, poor decision resulting wasteful expenses. Re-organisation is essential or it may be merged with national level HR department. But it can be closed. What about present working employee and Pensioners families.
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      1. M
        Meera
        Sep 29, 2017 at 11:36 am
        Most of the research ins utions including ICAR are not performing well due to wrong recruitment policies. Research ins utions can not be made as avenue of employment. Hence people of right psychological at ude should be brought in. Recruitment of scientists should be done at 3 levels. 1st level should be of Rsearch Ap ude test which should include emotonal and spiritual quotent tests. People scoring high on EQ and SQ should get to 2nd stage. 2nd stage can be subject matter test. 3rd stage interview. Weightage to be given should be 60 1st stage 30 2nd stage 10 3rd stage. Minimum qualification for recruitment should be M.Sc Ph.D should be in house on the ins ution work.
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          Dr D V Amla
          Sep 29, 2017 at 11:26 am
          The learned Committee headed by mostly by IAS or IAAS or political nominees their perception and over all vision is very limited and influenced due to complex with technologists, scientists, teachers and academic personalties. They are groomed that clearing one national compe ion examinations they are superior to all others. Look at the ins utions like IITs, IIMS, AIIMS,ICAR, DAE,DBT, DST,CSIR, ICMR, CENTRAL UNIVERSITIES, KVS, and many other vital are autonomous ins utions and were created to provide freedom and accelerated growth and less of conferences by ministries that are extremely slow, non professional and politically influenced. That is true and clean fact by doing massive reorganisation without sane thinking and home work it will go otherway in negative log and retrogressive model of development . What we need to alined and redefine objectives keeping national issues as priority and accountability. It is Easy to Destroyed very Difficult to Reorganize or Build.
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          1. A
            AK Garg
            Sep 29, 2017 at 10:43 am
            It's a difficult task. Like some of the scientists/ ins utes of ICAR/ CSIR/ defence are doing good job, their closure will adversely affect the growth of the country. But definitely defunct ins utions need not be continued or appropriately dealt with.
            Reply
            1. Nanjundiaha Shashidhara
              Sep 29, 2017 at 9:38 am
              Perodic reviewing to know the relevance of a particular organisation and merging of the autonomous bodies for effective functioning is a good move. But delaying the 7th CPC benefits to the retired pensioners of the autonomous bodies is unjustifiable. The government should not treat the pensioners of the autonomous with a step motherly at ude when compared to central government pensioners. Don't have double standard at ude treat every one as equal. Don't punish the pensioners who have served autonomous bodies sincerely for no fault of theirs. I feel the PM must interfere and get the justice to the senior citizens of the autonomous bodies at the earliest.
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                B.S.Nagraj Iyengar
                Sep 29, 2017 at 7:32 am
                Good move. The Modi Govt. is doing its best to remove all flab and reduce the burden on the exchequer.
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                  Dhananjaya
                  Oct 2, 2017 at 7:18 pm
                  Absolutely it is right move, but should have done much before. Exchequer is being cleaned up with pretext of R D of all unwanted things like, coffee, Tea, Tubacco, Rubber, Silk, coconut, cardamom, spices and so on. All these needs to be wound up without any further delay.
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                2. R
                  royashwani
                  Sep 28, 2017 at 7:40 pm
                  Autonomous bodies like ICAR and ASRB have earned a dubious distinction due to the presence of corrupt officers at higher positions. There is a need to flush out such elements from these bodies. One such person is Dr A. K. Srivastava who has managed to reach in ASRB despite of being corrupt, biased and dishonest. There are concrete evidence of corruption against him but no action has been taken against him due to the support of corrupt system.
                  Reply
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