Mission Karmayogi: Big bureaucratic reform initiative to build capacity gets Cabinet approval

The whole programme will be monitored by the prime minister, who will head an HR Council consisting of experts drawn from India and abroad.
Union Ministers Prakash Javadekar and Jitendra Singh during a media briefing on cabinet decisions. (Photo | Shekhar Yadav/EPS)
Union Ministers Prakash Javadekar and Jitendra Singh during a media briefing on cabinet decisions. (Photo | Shekhar Yadav/EPS)

NEW DELHI:  Seeking to shift the focus of civil servants from rules to roles, the Union Cabinet on Wednesday approved a proposal to launch “Mission Karmayogi”, which aims to continuously re-skill and add to their capacity.

The whole programme will be monitored by the prime minister, who will head an HR Council consisting of experts drawn from India and abroad. To create the necessary infrastructure, a special purpose vehicle will be floated to provide technological support, including building digital resources.

The National Programme for Civil Services Capacity Building has been designed because bureaucrats generally work in silos with few exchange of ideas, bogged down as they are in file work.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi said the new programme will radically improve the human resource management practices in the government. 

Within the ruling dispensation, there is a sense that bureaucrats have not really been delivering as per expectation, hence the new initiative. However, it drew mixed reactions from veteran civil servants.

“The main challenge currently is the politicisation of the civil services. The political masters control the civil services, wielding punitive powers to transfer. Despite talented youngsters joining the civil services with a lot of idealism, the civil services have been controlled by the politicians,” said Shankar Sen, a former IPS officer, who had been Director of the Sardar Patel Police Academy, Hyderabad. 

However, Badal Chatterjee, a former civil servant, concurred with the government, saying the intentions were always there in spirit and the Cabinet has only sought to put them in letter.

“Barring individual excellence, bureaucrats have been seen working as babus, sticking with files, while their field experiences and motivation of serving the public is taking a back seat,” said Chatterjee, while speaking to this newspaper.

Rooted in Indian culture, learning from abroad

  • The programme aims to ensure that civil servants remain entrenched in Indian culture and sensibilities while learning from the best institutions and practices across the world.

  • Mission Karmayogi will focus on individual civil servants and institutional capacity building, with resources and benefits being made available to the ranks of section officers to secretaries.

  • Officials will be allowed to choose their fields of interest.

  • The programme will "radically" improve the government's human resource management practices and prepare civil servants for the future, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said.

  • A council, comprising select union ministers, chief ministers, eminent public HR practitioners among others and headed by the prime minister, will serve as the apex body for providing strategic direction, while a Capacity Building Commission is also proposed to be set up.

  • The programme will help in overcoming existing impediments like "lack of lifelong & continuous learning environment", "evolution of silos at department level preventing shared understanding of India's development aspirations" and "diverse and fragmented training landscape" among others, the government said.

  • The core guiding principles of the competency-driven programme will be to support a transition from "rules based to roles based" HR management, it said.

  • "Today the Union Cabinet under Prime Minister Narendra Modi decided to bring this very big, post-recruitment reform, where an opportunity will be given to officers and employees to improve their performance.

  • "This is the biggest human resource development programme in the government," Information and Broadcasting Minister Prakash Javadekar said during a press briefing after the cabinet meeting.

  • To cover around 46 lakh central employees, a sum of Rs 510.86 crore will be spent over five years from 2020-21 to 2024-25 under Mission Karmayogi or the National Programme for Civil Services Capacity Building (NPCSCB), according to the statement.

  • Minister of State for Personnel Jitendra Singh, who was also present at the briefing, said the scheme will help end subjective evaluation, and ensure scientifically-devised, objective and real-time assessment of employees.

  • "Mid-career training which was only available for All India Services will now be mandatory for all officials at all levels in all services," he said.

  • Dwelling on the salient features of the new mechanism prepared after two years of labour to reform the bureaucracy, the minister said that appointing authorities will have ready-made data available for choosing "the right candidate for the right job", while real-time evaluation will go a long way in ensuring accountability and transparency in governance.

  • This will not only provide continuous capacity building but will also help in uniform realization of common values, priorities and future goals of the nation, he said.

  • He said that the ultimate aim of Mission Karmayogi is to ensure "ease of living" for the common man, "ease of doing business" and "citizen-centricity" that is reducing the gap between the government and the citizens, according to an official statement.

  • Singh said the programme is a means to transform work culture in administration and institutionalise capacity building.

  • "The endeavour is also to end the culture of working in silos and to overcome the multiplicity of training curriculum, which we have because of the institutions spread all over the country, with the introduction of a common platform for the uniform realisation of nation's vision and our shared aspiration and our shared future goals," he said.

  • Hailing it as a landmark initiative, Union Home Minister Amit Shah tweeted, "Goal driven and constant training will empower & sensitize the civil servants to ensure accountability and transparency".

  • "Mission Karmayogi aims to prepare the Indian civil servant for the future by making him more creative, constructive, imaginative, innovative, proactive, professional, progressive, energetic, enabling, transparent and technology-enabled," said the statement issued by the Personnel Ministry.

  • It will build future-ready civil service with the right attitude, skills and knowledge, aligned to the vision of new India, according to a presentation given during the media briefing by the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) Secretary C Chandramouli.

  • "A Public Human Resources Council comprising of select Union Ministers, Chief Ministers, eminent public HR practitioners, thinkers, global thought leaders and public service functionaries under the chairmanship of Hon'ble Prime Minister will serve as the apex body for providing strategic direction to the task of civil services reform and its capacity building," it said.

  • It is also proposed to set up the Capacity Building Commission with a view to ensure a uniform approach in managing and regulating the capacity building ecosystem on a collaborative and co-sharing basis, the statement said.

  • The Commission will also come out with an 'Annual State of Civil Service Report', it said.

  • An integrated government online training platform - iGOTKarmayogi - will be set up for the Mission.

  • "iGOT-Karmayogi platform brings the scale and state-of-the-art infrastructure to augment the capacities of over two crore officials in India," it said.

  • There will be a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) for owning and operating the digital assets and technological platform for online training and a coordination unit headed by the Cabinet Secretary for the program, the statement said.

  • "NPCSCB has been carefully designed to lay the foundations for capacity building for civil servants so that they remain entrenched in Indian culture and sensibilities and remain connected with their roots, while they learn from the best institutions and practices across the world," it said.

  • The expenditure is partly funded by multilateral assistance to the tune of USD 50 million, the statement said.

  • Besides capacity building, service matters like confirmation after probation period, deployment, work assignment and notification of vacancies, etc. would eventually be integrated with the proposed competency framework, the statement said.

  • On the conceptualisation of the Mission, Singh said that it started taking shape when on October 27, 2017, Narendra Modi became the first prime minister after 42 years to have visited the Lal Bahadur Shastri National Academy of Administration (LBSNAA), Mussoorie.

  • The LBSNAA is the country's premier training academy for civil servants.

  • During his two-day stay, Modi interacted with faculty members and trainee officers, and the essence gathered from his observations was that something needed to be done to eliminate the culture of working in silos followed by most of the government departments and ministries, Singh said.

  • Modi had also hinted at institutionalisation of continuous capacity building which could ensure the growth of both professional as well as personal capacities of individuals, the minister said.

  • For the last nearly two years, Singh said, there has been continuous brain-storming and a number of presentations have been made.

(With PTI Inputs)

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