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BW Businessworld

Shrink The Govt, Mr Modi

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Coalition governments at the centre in India made the governance process more federal and egalitarian. Regional parties could see their representatives as federal ministers, thus deepening the integration of the regional politics with national politics. 
But it had a terrible side effect. Since all coalition partners demanded their pound of flesh, national parties like BJP and Congress had to expand their cabinet and create ministries only to please their partners. 
Not surprisingly, this led to a tremendous increase in the size of government. More than the size, the increase in ministries meant poor coordination between departments for decision making and implementation. 
Narendra Modi as Prime Minister would do well to keep his cabinet compact. He is in a position to reduce and club the number of portfolios. 
The Congress led government had more than 27 cabinet ministers, 12 minister of state with independent charge and about 30 ministers of state. 
India does not need anything close to 70 ministers at the centre. The government would be far more efficient with half the number of ministers. 
Modi is in a great position to slash the cabinet. He does not have to pander to allies since BJP does not need any regional crutches to form the government. Most of the veteran leaders of the party are not in a position to demand ministries since the election win is Modi’s more than the parties. Modi is not obliged to create or maintain ministries only to accommodate party leaders. 
Here are some suggestions for new ministries that can combine existing portfolios.
  • Ministry of Energy: This ministry can combine the several ministries that work independent of each other. The ministries that should disappear are of coal, power, non-conventional energy, oil & gas. 
  • Ministry of Mobility: Combine ministries of roads & highways, shipping, aviation and railways. A multimodal approach will add great benefits. 
  • Ministry of Ecology: It should include ministries of water, environment, sanitation forests and pollution. 
  • Ministry of Infrastructure: Ministries of steel, mine and urban development should be merged. 
  • Ministry of Manufacturing and Trade: this should include heavy industries, small industries, commerce, public sector and textiles. 
  • Ministry of Social Equity: All social welfare ministries should come under this. This includes labour, women & child affairs, minority affairs, tribal affairs. 
  • Ministry of Food: This must bring departments like agriculture, food processing, marine products, and public distribution service under its banner. 
  • Ministry of Telecom and Technology: Related departments like earth sciences, information technology, and telecommunications and must work together.
Departments like corporate affairs, statistics should be merged with Ministry of Finance. There are many other options though these steps alone would reduce the cabinet by a third.

If Modi is able to shrink the government, he will be able to enable faster decision making and live up to the promise of good governance with efficient implementation

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