October 12, 2014


[Many ordinary Indians have little love for bureaucrats, who are widely viewed as corrupt, indolent and obfuscating, and Mr. Modi’s pledge of toughness was a central message of his campaign. The arrival of the new government was accompanied by rumors — widely circulated but never confirmed — that his office maintained a list of officials with regular tee-times at exclusive golf courses and kept tabs on who was meeting whom in hotel clubs.]

NEW DELHI Beware, o lollygagging Indian bureaucrats. If it was not already apparent that Prime Minister Narendra Modi would display a schoolmaster’s intolerance for laxity, the recent introduction of an electronic monitoring system — capable of registering the daily entry and exit times of 100,000 government officials — has made the situation abundantly clear.
The system, accessible to the public on the website attendance.gov.in, began working in early October, providing a digital dashboard that so far displays the comings and goings of more than 50,600 employees spread across 150 departments.
The rollout of the Biometric Attendance System coincided with an article in The Times of India that said that the Bharatiya Janata Party’s president had fitted the vehicles of party members campaigning for state legislative elections with GPS units, gathering real-time evidence that they are, in fact, on the trail and not lingering in hotel lounges. Party officials would not confirm the report.
Many ordinary Indians have little love for bureaucrats, who are widely viewed as corrupt, indolent and obfuscating, and Mr. Modi’s pledge of toughness was a central message of his campaign. The arrival of the new government was accompanied by rumors — widely circulated but never confirmed — that his office maintained a list of officials with regular tee-times at exclusive golf courses and kept tabs on who was meeting whom in hotel clubs.
Voters approached last week expressed full-throated approval of the planned surveillance.
“My own uncle is a government servant and we see him go into the office at 11 and so on,” said Shubham Tiwari, 20, a graduate student. “What kind of work will they do when there is not one iota of self-discipline? As it is, all the babus do is pass on files,” he added, using a colloquial term for bureaucrats. “At least they should do that with punctuality.”
Vridhi Kapani, 21, an interior designer, complained that every time she visited a bank or government office, “we mostly find babus out for tea breaks or some other.” She called the notion of GPS surveillance “fabulous,” and complained only that it was too limited, recommending that political figures should also be tracked on hidden cameras, “to see how they are bribing people for votes.”
The new system requires government employees to register their presence at the entrance to their offices using a biometric scan of a fingerprint or iris. As the system went live, some longtime civil servants acknowledged to Indian news organizations the practice of “proxy attendance,” in which employees would fail to show up for long stretches but, with colleagues’ assistance, register as present in the department’s attendance diary.
There were also some voices of caution. Pratap Bhanu Mehta, a respected political analyst, wrote that biometric tracking of government employees might turn out to be counterproductive, establishing a system that “would probably produce more gaming of the system than genuine performance.”
“It is a mistake to think that discipline can replace the need for trust,” he wrote. “At most, it displaces trust. But the harm it produces is to create a culture of suspicion, where distrust becomes the norm.”
But Mr. Mehta’s warning was clearly not fully convincing to all the readers of the daily Indian Express newspaper, a number of whom posted incredulous online comments in response, lustily endorsing the surveillance plan. “Sir, Have you been to a Government office before?” one of them read. “If you have dealt with the same, I’m sure you’ll have a diametrically opposite view on this matter.”
Ellen Barry contributed reporting.

@ The New York Times 

The parliamentary party of Nepali Congress Saturday proposed putting forward two models for the restructuring of the nation. One model envisioned Nepal having six provinces or states while the other one proposes seven provinces or states.

A meeting of the parliamentary party, also attended by members of NC's Central Working Committee, convened at the Prime Minister's Official Residence in Baluwatar on Saturday, October 11, 2014, to hold discussions within NC and decide on a concrete proposal, came up with the two models. The meeting also decided on its proposals for form of government, judicial structure and electoral system. NC will now start negotiations with other parties with the proposal as the cornerstone.

The meeting took place on the backdrops of the Constitutional Political-Dialogue and Consensus (CPDC) committee failing to forge a consensus on the disputed issues of federal structure, form of governance, and judicial and electoral system. The deadline for the CPDCC to form a consensus was again extended by a week after its latest deadline expired on Friday. The major political parties also agreed on Friday to sit for dialogue at an undisclosed location on Sunday.


The Nepali Congress proposal has a federal parliamentary constitutional republic Nepal with three levels -- the nation, provinces or states, and local levels, and other Special Regions if necessary.

NC says settlement of two or more than two ethnic, linguistic and cultural communities -- that make up more than one percent of the nation's total population -- will be kept in a single province as far as possible while drawing the borders of provinces on the basis of identity and capacity, paying attention to geographical and historic continuity.

The 6-proovince model proposes Eastern Province, Eastern Tarai Province, Capital Province, Western Province, and Far-Western Province.

On the other hand, the seven-province model proposes Sagarmatha Province, Janakpur Province, Bagmati Province, Gandaki Province, Lumbini Province, Karnali Province and Khaptad Province.

NC has also proposed allowing Special Regions inside these provinces with their own names, jurisdiction or ToR and law, when needed.

Similarly, NC has proposed for an executive-level mechanism led by the prime minister to settle dispute between the country and province or between different provinces. The mechanism will have the country's defence minister, home minister, finance minister, federal affairs minister and chief ministers of the provinces. A Constitutional Court led by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court has also been proposed to resolve and decide on matters and disputes over law and the constitution.


The meeting also decided that Nepali Congress would stick with its line of a parliamentary system of governance. According to its proposal the president of the country would be elected by an electoral college made up of members of the federal parliament and the provincial parliament. The president would be a constitutional head-of-state.

The federal parliament would have two houses of parliament -- the National Assembly and the House of Representatives while each province would have one provincial parliament each.


With a view to maintain political stability Nepali Congress will propose that once a prime minister has been elected, a no-confidence motion cannot filed against their government for the period of one year. After the first year of office, if any party or faction wants to file a no-confidence motion, then it will have to also register the name of an alternative candidate for prime minister.


The members of the nation's House of Representatives will be elected through direct voting. Off the 175 proposed seats for members of parliament, 75 will be by a proportional representation system of voting. The National Assembly will not have more than 75 members and a provincial parliament will have between 25 to 50 representatives.

NC's proposal gives the Supreme Court the final say in interpreting the constitution.

It has also proposed setting up a Constitutional Court for at least the first ten years after the date of the announcement of a new constitution to resolve and settle any dispute on jurisdiction between the centre and province, province and province or province and local government. 

The five-member Constitutional Court will have the country's Chief Justice as its head.

NC has also proposed for a Constitutional Council which will nominate the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. The council will be headed by the Chief Justice and have the law minister, two of the most senior judges at the Supreme Court, and one person nominated by Nepal Bar Association and appointed by the president.


The 6-province model proposal has Nepal's Tarai belt -- the Madesh -- being part of three provinces. This has predictably not been received well by leaders of Madesh parties. Madesh leaders say they were always prepared for their One Madesh demand being unrealistic and had expected they would have to compromise on a two province Madesh. However, they are not ready for more provinces than that, they say. Madesh parties presently also have the support of UCPN (Maoist).


1) EASTERN PROVINCE: Taplejung, Panchthar, Ilam, Jhapa, Sankhuwasabha, Tehrathum, Bhojpur, Dhankuta, Morang, Sunsari, Solukhumbu, Okhaldhunga, Khotang and Udaypuar

2) EASTERN TARAI PROVINCE: Saptari, Siraha, Dhanusha, Mohottari, Sarlahi, Rautahat, Bara and Parsa.

3) CAPITAL PROVINCE: Ramechhap, Dolakha, Sindhuli, Kavre, Sindhupalchowk, Rasuwa, Kathmandu, Bahaktapur, Lalitpur, Dhading, Chitwan and Makwanpur.

4)    WESTERN PROVINCE: Gorkha, Manang, Lamjung, Tanahu, Kaski, Syangja, Parbat, Mustang, Baglung, Gulmi, Palpa, Arghakhanchi, Pyuthan, Rolpa, Rukum and Salyan.

5) WESTERN TARAI PROVINCE: Nawalparasi, Rupandehi, Kapilvastu, Dang, Banke and Bardiya.

6) FAR-WESTERN PROVINCE: Surkhet, Dailekh, Jajarkot, Dolpa, Jumla, Humla, Kalikot, Mugu, Bajhang, Achham, Bajura, Doti, Baitadi, Dadeldhura, Kailali, Kanchanpur and Darchula.


1) SAGARMATHA PROVINCE: Mechi and Koshi zones and hilly districts of Sagarmatha (Dhankuta headquarters)

2) JANAKI PROVINCE: all Tarai districts from Saptari to Parsa (Janakpur headquarters)

3) BAGMATI PROVINCE: hilly districts of Janakpur zone, Bagmati zone, and Chitwan and Makwanpur of Narayani zone (Kathmandu capital).

4) GANDAKI PROVINCE: all districts of Gandaki and Dhaulagiri zones and hilly districts of Lumbini zone (Pokhara headquarters)

5) LUMBINI PROVINCE: all Tarai districts from Nawalparasi to Bardiya (Dang headquarters)

6) KARNALI PROVINCE: the hilly districts of Rapti and Bheri zones and all districts of Karnali zone (Surkhet headquarters)

7) KHAPTAD PROVINCE: all districts from Seti and Mahakali zones (Dipayal headquarters).