NEW DELHI -- The Narendra Modi government seems to be resolved to force babus out of their armchairs and nudge them towards a healthier lifestyle. After making them bend and twist on World Yoga Day, the government has now issued instructions to set up gyms and promote adventure sports among central government employees.
The government has asked its employees to go rock-climbing and trekking, as part of a lifestyle revamp for its employees. According to the Economic Times, the government wants to "create and foster spirit of risk-taking" and tackle the "impact of sedentary life" on babus.
This is part of new schemes by the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT), headed by the Prime Minister, for promotion of adventure sports and physical fitness amongst central government employees. It aims to improve efficiency and morale of bureaucrats.
The scheme on promoting adventure sports says that this would "tackle the alarming situation of stress and impact of sedentary life on government servants". According to the government, this will provide bureaucrats a 'creative outlet', will foster 'spirit of risk' and that they will be better prepared for disaster management.
Every year, the DoPT will sponsor two officials from each central government department to take up "trekking, mountaineering, rock-climbing, cycling in difficult terrain, skiing, surfing, boat sailing, snorkelling, rafting, para-sailing ballooning, Para Gliding, Jungle Safari/Trekking, Desert Safari/Trekking, Beach trekking and environmental awareness camps."
For this, the government has allocated a maximum ceiling of Rs 20,000 per person per camp.
The government will spend up to Rs 10 lakh to set up a gymnasium in each central government department which employees can use after work hours.
"With increased involvement of government in various activities for the benefit of people at large, the workload of government servants has increased manifold. Their sedentary behaviour can have many detrimental effects including an increased likelihood of developing illness," the scheme document on gymnasiums says.
Ever since Modi has taken charge, the country's bureaucrats have been given a major image overhaul. From keeping track of their punctuality with a bio-metric roll call system to longer work hours, the 'acchey din' for babus are a thing of the past.
First, they started losing all their holidays.
For International Yoga Day, the health ministry had issued a circular asking all officers of the rank of under secretary and above to attend the function starting at 7 am, on a Sunday.
On Gandhi Jayanti, last year, the babus were made to trade their files for a jhadoo. During the launch of the Swachh Bharat campaign, the babus were made to clean their offices, including the toilets. Their Christmas holiday was also ruined, thanks to Modi's idea of the Good Governance Day.
That's not all.
Foreign trips, a huge lure of the job, have also reduced drastically, after it was made mandatory for bureaucrats to submit an 'outcome report' after every foreign trip.
According to a Times Of India report in July, at least 56 IAS officers have left their central postings prematurely for their respective state cadres since May 2014 when the Narendra Modi-led BJP government took office.
In 2013, just three IAS officers left the Centre prematurely and only one left between August and December 2012. The numbers spiked to 13 between January and May 2014, in the lead-up to the Lok Sabha polls which resulted in a regime change.