Throw some light on the impact of Prime Minister’s Office acting as the most powerful office in the process of policymaking.

During the early years after independence, the real center of power was the ‘Cabinet Secretariat’; however, with decline in importance of cabinet, presidential themes in elections, leadership cult & decline in the role of the individual parliamentarians, the PMO emerged as the de-facto decision making body effectively sidelining the cabinet.

Structure:

  • It is headed by the Principal Secretary to PM, usually an IAS officer & also tasked with supervising the space, nuclear energy & personnel sector.

Challenges:

  • Excessive centralization leads to policy paralysis, as ministers of the state wait for PMO approval before decisions.
  • Many times even though good decisions are taken; yet the nations so large & complex that bandwidth is insufficient.
  • Raghuram Rajan has stated that ease doing of business is being affected as many reforms are still in the pipeline & need action/approval from the PMO to be implemented.
  • Role of Ministers is heavily reduced. He can no longer act independently, his powers reduces and ability to initiate policy and transfer his officers is heavily restricted.
  • Since our country does not follow Presidential form of government, where excessive centralization of power occurs; this is not favourable.
  • The number of people in the PMO are limited, thus it too affects decision making.

Way Forward:

Recognizing the strength of the cabinet system is needed, where ministers take decision independently, while at the same time having collective responsibility.

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