'Damage caused by Chinese hackers not assessed yet'

'Damage caused by Chinese hackers not assessed yet'

'Damage caused by Chinese hackers not assessed yet'

K M ChandrasekharThe Cabinet Secretariat is an important link in the governance of the country, be it coordinating, resolving disputes amongst ministries or evolving consensus on different issues through the instrumentality of the various committees of secretaries. Headed by Cabinet Secretary, country’s top-most civil servant, it is the mainstay for coordination between the Centre and states too. Cabinet Secretary K M Chandrasekhar spoke to B S Arun of Deccan Herald in an exclusive interview on a range of issues and controversies.

After the recent Dantewada massacre, there are differences over how the government must approach tackling the Maoists. What is your view?

The issue does not come under me, it is directly being dealt with by home ministry.
The Food Security Act is going to be one of the flagship programmes of the UPA government. However, to make this happen, the government has to come to a consensus within itself as there are various figures being quoted be it for total number of beneficiaries, total allocation required, etc. When can we see it implemented?
The basic issue is one of numbers. We have large number of beneficiares-6.52 crore BPL (below poverty line) families who are eligible. There is an estimated 11 crore (put up by the states) and there is Suresh Tendulkar report which pegs the figure at 8.14 crore. First we have to fix numbers. Then we have to fix the quantity — should it be 25 kg or 35 kg per family of beneficiary. The third point is poorest of the poor who come under AAY (Antyodaya Anna Yojana) of 2.52 crore. There is the issue whether the beneficiaries should get edible oil, pulses, etc. Then comes the issue of total quantum of financial allocation, the procurement capacity, etc.

The programme requires 450 lakh tonnes per year. Now, whatever amount we fix should also go with the number of beneficiaries, the quantity of foodgrain, reserve stock that we should keep, there are welfare schemes such as mid-day meals to be taken care of. Then we have to decide about procurement. On that basic we have to work out a model. The Planning Commission is currently working on it. In 2-3 weeks time, it will come before the EGOM (empowered group of ministers) which has to go through it and send it to cabinet. After that, it will be placed before parliament.

There is criticism over another flagship programme — National Rural Employment Generation Scheme — that it is not reaching the beneficiaries and that there is pilferage.

State governments are directly involved in the implementation of Nrega. We have a systematised social audit system. The pancharaj institutions are involved in this and the more you involve them, loopholes are better  addressed. It is a huge programme of nearly Rs 50,000 crore a year and there can be some problems. What inputs we are getting from the states is the scheme has a good impact.

Your attempt at performance evaluation of ministries was criticised by some ministers. What are your plans this year?

We assessed performance of 59 ministries. Earlier, differences were mainly because of media reports after which I wrote to all ministers. Under PMES (performance management evaluation system), each ministry will decide what its priorities are. You can assess how well you have done as per weightage. It is a qualitative assessment. It is there in other countries also, both developed and developing. The reaction is very good from the secretaries of ministries. There is no adverse report from the ministers. Under PMES, you are spending time on the functions that you prioritise. You work on this throughout the year. You are focusing on certain areas. My feedback is good. Now we are planning for next year. Since we started only last quarter, time was too short. This time will be for the whole year. We had a Saarc cabinet secretaries meeting — there was a lot of enthusiasm there for this, after this we had a workshop in Delhi, recently. Bhutan has already started this. PMES will mean a lot for India.

Will it be extended to the states?
We must, but we have to first cover the entire Union government. In three months we have covered 59 ministries, we will cover 60 this year and the entire 84 ministries next year. We will discuss the issue with the chief secretaries so that we can take it to the states.

There was a spat recently between environment and highways ministries over environment clearance to road projects. Have you resolved the dispute?
Yes, it was resolved at CCEA (Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs) and CCI (Cabinet Committee on Infrastructure). It was made clear that only investment clearance and not other issues will be discussed at CCI. Before they undertake any work, environment clearance should be obtained. We have decided to put in a system wherein secretaries of the two ministries will meet and decide about the projects.

Recently, there was a report that Chinese hackers have broken into top secret files of the Indian defence ministry and embassies around the world. Have you assessed the damage? What are your reports?
The damage has not been assessed. We are only trying to put in place a system of firewall so that each department will undertake a set of security measure. We will create an organisation that will look at it all the time. This is the way we are trying to proceed.