Narendra Modi puts bureaucratic old guard on notice: Forget retirement, focus on governance

Prime Minister Narendra Modi is in mood for a massive restructuring at the top echelons of the bureaucracy. In his own nuanced yet firm message to an assembly of secretaries to the government of India on 4 June, he sent a chill down the spine of the bureaucracy, especially the old guard, by indicating that automatic elevation to the post of secretary based on tenure and seniority will be a thing of the past.

Modi said this rather subtly by referring to his first meeting with the secretaries in 2014. Immediately after taking oath as prime minister in 2014, he had convened a meeting of all secretaries. "Exactly three years ago, I held a similar meeting with nearly 85 secretaries. Of those 85, only four are present here today. And even those four officers are on extension."

What he was highlighting was the fact that within these three years, while the political leadership remained the same, the entire top bureaucracy had changed. All secretaries to the government of India had retired. 

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