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Gujarat govt's vibrant move: Graduates to get stipend more than State's class one babus!

By Rajiv Shah 

In order to showcase how much innovative it can be ahead of the Vibrant Gujarat world business summit (January 10-12),  the Gujarat government has come up a new criterion to value human resource development: It has decided to offer the state’s mere graduates with 60% score a stipend of more than what the state’s newly recruited class one officers – who reach the top spot in the bureaucratic ladder through tough competitive examinations and several layers of promotion – receive as salary! 
A recently-released 122 page government resolution (GR), which includes annexures, and whose copy is with Counterview, states, the stipend would be given to selected candidates for the Chief Minister's fellowship programme, which would be identified as the Sardar Patel Good Governance CM Fellowship. The GR claims, “The aim and objective of this scheme is to channelise youth-energy (aged 35 or less) in holistic development of state and the nation”.
The GR states, after “careful consideration”, the government decided that in all “20 fellows will be appointed at the end of the selection process in the fellowship programme”, though not ruling out recruiting even more, underlining, “The actual need will be determined over time.”
As for remuneration, it would be “a monthly stipend of Rs 1,00,000 + Rs 10,000 leave travel allowance (LTA)”, the GR reveals, adding, the entire coordination of the programme would be carried out by the government’s top institute which offers refresher courses to all categories of officials, the Sardar Patel Institute of Public Administration (SPIPA), and under the General Administration Department (GAD), responsible for giving final touch to appointment and transfer of all categories of state babus.
A government source confirmed, the Gujarat government take-home salary for a newly-recruited class one official is “around Rs 90,000-95,000 per month”, which includes the basic pay, the dearness allowance and other payments which she or he is supposed to receive every month. “The senior-most class one official gets take home salary of about Rs 1.75 lakh per month”, the source added.
According to the GR, SPIPA would invite “online applications following principle of equal access, open competition and transparent selection by advertisement in a newspaper of wide repute”, adding, the selection would be done following a scrutiny of the applications first by a Scrutiny and Shortlisting Committee (SSC), then by a Selection Committee (SC), and finally by a Special Selection Committee (SSC).
The first layer of the selection committee would do its job on the basis of “the personal statement from candidates of at least six times the available seats”. The personal statement would be “evaluated by an expert at the Indian Institute of Management-Ahmedabad (IIM-A)”. This expert, it adds, would recommend a panel of at least three times of the number of seats.
While government officials from SPIPA and GAD would dominate in the each of the layers set up for the selection process, the final selection, GR states, would be the prerogative of the Special Selection Committee headed by additional chief secretary (ACS), GAD, who is one of the senior-most IAS bureaucrats of the Gujarat government, and consisting of other officials and a “nominated member either from IIM- A, Institute of Technology-Gandhinagar (IIT-G), or any other reputed institute.”
Says the GR, the process of selection would be based on not just on “personal statement” evaluated by the IIM-A expert (it would be given a 20% weightage). A far bigger weightage (40%) is to be given to “personal interview”.
However, the GR offers a loophole here, stating the rules may be relaxed; the evaluation may not necessarily involve an “outsider” from IIM-A or IIT-G or any other reputed institute. It underlines, “In certain exceptional cases and in the exigency of time and with full justification, selection can also be considered from a single source...”
To be recruited for one year and extendable for another year, the GR says, the continuation of the fellowship would be determined by mutual consent, and individual fellows would get a 10% increase in their stipend. Even here there is a loophole: It notes, whereas ever the Gujarat government is of the opinion that it is necessary or expedient to do so, there may be relaxation or modification in “any of the provisions...”
And what are these 20 (or more?) selected fellows are supposed to do? The appendix attached with the GR says, the fellows – to be attached with a government “mentor”, equipped with a personal laptop, and transport facilities in case of travel for project purpose – are supposed to “contribute to the enhancement of governance in the state of Gujarat by infusing innovative and effective approaches into policy-making and service delivery processes.”
To be selected for Chief Minister's fellowship programme, the aim is to channelise youth energy in holistic development of state and nation
Further, the selected boys and girls would “serve as a catalyst for transformation within government departments promoting a culture of innovation, efficiency and excellence”, GR says, underlining, the fellows would serve as “advisory or professional” capacity, “providing expert or strategic advice” on “management, policy or communication”.
Further, it adds, their services would include “feasibility studies, project management, engineering services, architectural services, finance accounting and taxation services, training and development, etc.” -- all of which would subject to strict “confidentiality laws and regulations applicable within the State of Gujarat.”
In fact, the fellows, according to the GR, are prohibited from “publishing a book or a compilation of articles or participate in TV/ radio broadcasts/social media or contribute an article or write a letter in any newspapers or periodical either in their own name or anonymously or pseudonymously in the name of any other person if such book, article, broadcast, or letter relates to subject matter assigned to them by the Government of Gujarat.”
While the minimum qualification for applying for the fellowship is graduation with 60% marks, and persons with higher qualifications, more experience and those from reputed institutes (IIT, IIM, Indian Institute of Science, All-India Institute of Medical Sciences, National Law University, Indian Agricultural Research Institute, Pusa) may be “preferred”, when contacted, a top state official told Counterview, “The fellowship is nothing but another BJP move amidst many to favour and reward those are from saffron outfits.”
The fellows, the GR notes, would be required to study, analyse and offer project reports on subjects which include implementation of the midday meal scheme; nutrition and health of anganwadi kids; wasting, stunting and malnutrition among school going children; health and nutrition of pregnant women and lactating mothers and children up to months of age, especially in the tribal blocks. advantages of fortified food, reduction in under-nutrition and nutritional anemia among adolescent girls.
Then, the fellows are supposed to organise rapid surveys on enrollment of students in science and mathematics stream at secondary/ higher secondary level; recycling of municipal waste, liquid and solid waste management; promotion of natural farming; enhancing irrigation capacity and optimal utilization of Narmada water resources; and tourism promotion of heritage, wildlife, beaches and religious sites.

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