All secretaries now have a task in hand which they have to complete in three weeks. Following a directive issued by the department of personnel and training (DoPT), the department heads will visit their places of first posting for two-three days to assess whether things have changed or improved over the last three decades. They also have to submit their suggestions and recommendations on how conditions can be improved. The DoPT directive came two months after prime minister Narendra Modi had suggested that all secretaries visit the place of their first posting for a couple of days as this would provide them new insights on policy-making.
This is a good move as it enables those involved in implementation of government policies to go back to their roots and see how central schemes can be tweaked or improved so that people get the maximum benefit. The place of first posting is important for making an assessment because the officials were young and impressionable when they first went there. Most of them must have also been idealistic at that point of time when they wanted things to be quickly done for the betterment of the masses. Even if an element of cynicism has since crept into their mentality, revisiting the district environs of their first posting can remove the cynical coating from their eyes and make them visualise the scene once again as it was 25 or 30 years ago. It gives an excellent opportunity for top bureaucrats who have moved far away to catch up on developments in their first places of postings.
As a result, they will be able to make out whether what they had once wanted to do in the first flush of their youth had been done. And, if not, why? Since the officials will be allowed to take their spouses and children on these visits, they will be in a relaxed frame of mind and be better able to interact with the locals as well as young officials posted there. The exchanges are likely to have a rejuvenating effect on the entire bureaucratic apparatus.