Fewer Ministries for Faster Decisions
The new BJP government at the Centre will reportedly have fewer ministers and ministries. This is wholly welcome. Decision-making will be quicker, and overheads lower. The Constitution says the number of ministers, including the prime minister, in the Council of Ministers should not exceed 15% of the total number of members of the House, but this number should be taken as the upper limit. Of course, coalition compulsions forced the UPA to have a jumbo 72-member ministerial council: 28 Cabinet ministers and 43 ministers of state, besides the Prime Minster. The BJP, with a clear majority, has no such compulsions. Let there be fewer Cabinet ministers and no ministers of state without work. Fewer ministries will be a logical fallout. There is simply no reason to have 51odd central ministries, apart from the Cabinet secretariat, Planning Commission and departments of atomic energy and space. An integrated ministry of energy — comprising coal, power, petroleum and natural gas and renewable energy — is a good idea. The case for an integrated ministry of transport, comprising aviation, roadways, shipping and eventually railways, is compelling. The fertiliser ministry must be merged with agriculture to ensure overall welfare for farmers, and ministries of consumers affairs and food, food processing should be departments under the agriculture ministry’s roof. The steel ministry, meant only to run state-owned companies, should be scrapped. Ministry of corporate affairs can again function as a department under the ministry of finance. The administration should be trimmed. Like in the army, promotions should be based on merit and availability of posts. Only a competent subset of joint secretaries should rise any further. Those who do, should be allowed to retire at their will.