A first: Key secretaries told to give Narendra Modi powerpoints on road ahead

Surabhi, Subhomoy Bhattacharjee Posted online: Saturday, May 24, 2014 at 0000 hrs
New Delhi : For the first time ever for any incoming government, secretaries of key departments will make detailed presentations to the new Prime Minister Narendra Modi from May 27 on the roadmap and agenda ahead.

Most secretaries of key economic and strategic ministries were told about this by the cabinet secretary when they met him this week. These ministries include home, defence, finance and key infrastructure and economic ministries.

No Prime Minister has ever held such a meeting with secretaries before being briefed by the respective ministers and that, too, within 24 hours of moving in. But breaking this convention, Modi is expected to learn first hand from top officials the challenges this government faces the morning after his cabinet is sworn in.

Each of these ministries has already sent a status report to the cabinet secretary.

The expected format of the presentation: Secretaries will share a short set of slides — between five and 10 — on the critical issues that need to be addressed in their respective sectors. This will be followed by questions and answers with the PM. Each meeting could stretch late into the evenings.

Significantly, Modi is not expected to have any aide with him from the PMO except for those meant to take notes of the meetings. This is in tune with the way he has handled presentations made by secretaries in the Gujarat government.

“We have been told there is no time line for these meetings to end. The new PM is known to ask for minute details and so we are gearing up accordingly”, an official said. Carrying of references or files was considered a big no-no in Gandhinagar for such meetings and most secretaries are planning to emulate this style. One of them confirmed to The Indian Express that some officers had made calls to their counterparts in Gujarat to get “some tips.”

Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had, in his first term, asked for written inputs from each secretary and then sent out a detailed action agenda for them to follow up. His first meeting with them happened only in October, five months after he took over.