Watching the 'Modi effect' in action at ONGC

Vol 17, PW 24 (17 Jul 14) People & Policy

Narendra Modi is delivering on his election promise of good governance, according to senior ONGC bosses.

In particular, they point to their relationship with oil ministry bureaucrats, which has dramatically improved since Modi took charge in May. No longer are ONGC officials harassed with calls from middlemen claiming connections to ministry bureaucrats or favours for privately-owned companies.

“Over the past month there have hardly been any such (phone) calls," says one senior ONGC source. Another welcome change is how ministry bureaucrats appear more alert and are closely monitoring projects to ensure accountability.

Modi has also been pushing a massive operation to clean out dusty old files, broken furniture, dirty teacups and general slovenliness that characterise many government departments in India. On July 4, ONGC’s chief of employee relations Pradeep Sahariya issued a notice that irrelevant old records should be destroyed.

Days later, director human resources designate DD Misra issued more notices exhorting employees to maintain clean work spaces and to be punctual. But one ONGC source feels enforcing strict working hours is unrealistic.

"What's important is that work flows smoothly," he says. Another company source cynically worries that this is a honeymoon phase for the new government and that old patterns of inefficiency will re-emerge.

"Let's see how long it lasts," he says.

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