Narendra Modi government setting a cracking pace for babus, and journos too

New Delhi, Jun 13: The cracking pace with which the new government is moving – taking decisions and even announcing them immediately – is taking top government officials unawares.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi‘s decision to invite the SAARC leaders to the swearing-in, the short bilateral talks he held with the South Asian leaders the following day, the prime minister’s decision to make Bhutan the destination of his first bilateral visit, his decision to disband ministerial committees and the directive to keep offices neat and clean – all these have left the bureaucrats literally panting for breath.

As against the ponderous pace of the UPA government when decisions were taken after much deliberation and announced through the proper channels, the new BJP-led NDA government has been moving at an almost breakneck speed. And it has not just been the speed – the new government is far more communicative too.

Beginning from Prime Minister Modi, one of the most tech-savvy politicians who keeps his followers regularly updated on developments in his office, the entire government is tweeting the newest developments. Even as the babus have just begun digesting the news of any new decision or development, the prime minister and his team of ministers have already tweeted the news. For the journalists, the tweets are a manna of news, though it means following the PM and his team virtually 24×7.

Under the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) dispensation, hardly any news filtered out of the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO). But the new prime minister, whose crack tech team has developed an interactive and user-friendly PMO site, has ensured most of his meetings with dignitaries are “visible” to the world.

And he does not waste time tweeting too, whether about meeting Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, the emotional talk he shared, the sari Sharif sent for his mother, or even greeting the start of the World Cup.

The sudden announcement last week of the prime minister agreeing to a US visit for a summit with President Barack Obama and his decision to make Bhutan his first stop for a foreign visit took even the external affairs ministry by surprise. Officials of the external affairs ministry, who are the ones that generally give out news of the prime minister’s upcoming visits, were taken unawares when some newspapers published the news about Modi’s decision to visit the US.

The same thing happened with regard to the Bhutan visit. ”The announcements are now coming directly from the PMO,” admitted an official to IANS.

The foreign ministry was shaken out of its somewhat slumberous existence last month, what with the elections and the excitement of the results still to settle, when the new dispensation announced that the leaders of South Asian nations (and Mauritius( would be invited for the swearing-in.

“Yes, the announcement of the invitation to the South Asian leaders, and then the bilateral meetings, all came at very short notice. But we managed to pull off everything smoothly,” an official said, admitting that “when the leader at the top strikes a fast pace, everybody else has to march in step.”

The days following the May 26 swearing-in were a whir of fast-paced developments and look set to continue. Modi’s speeches are almost always extempore – which while interesting to listen to – pose a challenge to the mediapersons. Jotting down notes and accurately getting the nuance of the speech, which is mostly in Hindi, right, is another challenge.