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Unviable populist schemes may create Sri Lanka-like situation: Indian Bureaucrats to Modi

(PTI) -In a marathon meeting of Prime Minister Narendra Modi with senior bureaucrats, a few officials raised concern over populist schemes announced by several states, claiming they are economically unsustainable and could take them down the same path as Sri Lanka, sources said on Sunday.

Modi held the four-hour-long meeting with secretaries of all departments at his camp office at 7, Lok Kalyan Marg, on Saturday.

The meeting was also attended by National Security Advisor Ajit Doval, Principal Secretary to Prime Minister PK Mishra and Cabinet Secretary Rajiv Gauba along with other top bureaucrats of the Union government.

During the meeting, Modi categorically told bureaucrats to come out of the mentality of managing shortages to the new challenge of managing surplus. He told them to give up the old story of citing “poverty” as an excuse for not taking up major development projects and asked them to adopt a bigger perspective, the sources said.

Citing the teamwork shown by the secretaries during the COVID-19 pandemic, Modi said they should act as secretaries of the government of India and not merely as secretaries of their respective departments and should work as one team.

He also asked secretaries to give feedback and suggest loopholes in policies of the government, including those which are not related to their respective ministries.

More than two dozen secretaries expressed their views and shared their feedback with Prime Minister Modi, who heard them with an open mind, the sources said.

This was the ninth such meeting of the prime minister with secretaries since 2014.

Two secretaries while citing a populist scheme announced in recent assembly polls in a state, which is in financially bad shape, and similar schemes in other states said they are economically unsustainable and could take the states down the same path as Sri Lanka, the sources said.

Sri Lanka is currently experiencing its worst economic crisis in history. With long lines for fuel, cooking gas and essentials in short supply and long hours of power cuts the public has been suffering for weeks.

Apart from such meetings, Prime Minister Modi has also constituted six-sectoral groups of secretaries to suggest new ideas for overall improvement in governance.

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