Narendra Modi tells India's inefficient bureaucrats 'it's time for work'

The new premier's habit of working long hours means his underlings are too

Narendra Modi hasn't yet been in office 100 days, but India's new premier has already taken on the nation's famously inefficient bureaucrats, known as babus.

Modi started by summoning about 70 of Delhi's top civil servants. He gave them his personal phone number and email address, and told them it was time for work. A circular appeared the next day with what have been called Modi's "11 Commandments", which include a clean-up of work spaces and a filleting of old files.

Workers have been throwing out broken furniture and mounds of paperwork from the previous administration's decade in power, when India's inefficient, corrupt bureaucracy became a symbol of the country's stalled progress. When the Home Ministry cleaned its cabinets of 150,000 files recently, the Times of India reported, workers found documents dating back to British rule, which ended in 1947.

Modi has also performed spot-checks and called ministers to see if they are at their desks. His habit of working long hours – he's up at 5.30am most mornings for yoga, and works into the night – means his underlings are working 18-hour days, too. Many government employees are now expected to come in on Saturdays.

The state has three million employees, but the privileges accorded the 5,500 elite officers of the Indian Administration service – the babus – is a source of resentment.

Washington Post