Not that nothing has happened on downsizing. First, a contributory pension scheme has been introduced for new appointees and this will reduce pension outgo in the future. It remains to be seen if someone will take this to court as violative of Article 14 of the Constitution. Second, fresh recruitment has been restricted to 1 per cent of civilian staff strength. Given natural attrition of 3 per cent, this should lead to a reduction of 10 per cent in government jobs over five years. Third, there has been talk of identifying surplus staff and transferring them to a pool. If these cannot be re-deployed, there is supposed to be voluntary retirement schemes. The operative word is talk, because barring employees of the Department of Telecommunications who were shown as employees of Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd from October 2000 and hence no longer part of the government there has been no significant reduction in number of government jobs. In fact, Mr Sinhas Expenditure Budget shows an increase in number of central government employees from 3.32 million in March 2002 to 3.34 million in March 2003. Therefore, North Block doesnt believe its talk will ever be walked. Reports have now appeared about 17,200 jobs identified for pruning and concerned ministries and departments have apparently agreed. Clearly, this 17,200 figure includes the 12,200 jobs that were to be scrapped by March 2002. Those jobs havent gone. Instead, 5,000 more have been identified for downsizing. The proof of the pudding is in the eating. Since North Block has gone to town about having finally been able to persuade other ministries and departments, the ATR for 2002-03 should be different. If not, the finance minister should stop talking.