Modi thinks Diwali gifts are a waste of money

Vol 18, PW 5 (23 Oct 14) People & Policy

Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights, wasn’t so bright this year for the oil ministry and state-owned oil companies.

Two weeks ago Prime Minister Narendra Modi issued informal instructions that state-owned companies should avoid spending money on gifts, greeting cards, diaries and calendars, according to an oil ministry source. Since then India’s domestic spy agency Intelligence Bureau (IB) has deployed two officers to the oil ministry to monitor visitors to see who walks in with gifts for bureaucrats.

“(Oil minister Dharmendra) Pradhan’s staff have been returning Diwali gifts,” says our ministry source. “(Secretary Saurabh) Chandra has also told his staff not to accept gifts.

” IB officials are also keeping a close eye on the residences of top ministry bureaucrats to make sure gifts aren’t being delivered there. Unsurprisingly people are unhappy.

“Joint secretaries and directors don’t need gifts,” says a regular ministry visitor. “They get paid well.

It’s the under secretaries, section officers and support staff who rely on Diwali gifts. This is the only time of the year they get attention.

” Modi, it seems, issued instructions that instead of spending on gifts state-owned companies should donate money to the relief fund set up after severe floods ravaged Jammu & Kashmir last month (September). Despite this, representatives of E&P companies and service contractors are still seen walking around the oil ministry, carrying gifts!

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