New Delhi: The Narendra Modi government Wednesday informally urged all civil service associations to ask their officers to contribute generously to the PM CARES Fund, ThePrint has learnt.
And on the same day, the Indian Administrative Service (IAS), Indian Revenue Service (IRS) and Indian Information Service (IIS) associations tweeted a 16 April letter by Cabinet Secretary Rajiv Gauba, urging officials to contribute to the fund.
We support the appeal by Cabinet Secy to all Government Officials to generously and voluntarily donate one day's salary every month for the year. We appeal to all IAS officers to contribute to PM CARES Fund.@PMOIndia @DoPTGoI #CivilServicesFightCOVID19 pic.twitter.com/FXUKQQESI7
— IAS Association (@IASassociation) April 22, 2020
The IRS Association calls upon the entire fraternity to generously contribute to the PM-CARES fund, and support the Government in fighting the Covid challenge.@narendramodi @PMOIndia @nsitharamanoffc @Anurag_Office @IncomeTaxIndia pic.twitter.com/odxMVtoSad
— IRS Association (@IRSAssociation) April 22, 2020
Cabinet Secretary writes to all Secretaries to Govt. of India, requesting them to make an appeal to all officials working in their respective Ministries / Departments, attached / subordinate bodies & PSUs to contribute to #PMCARESFund, to help Govt. deal with #COVID19 emergency pic.twitter.com/cTj0Tg2GoO
— Indian Information Service (@IISExpress) April 22, 2020
A government source said that while no written communication was given to associations, they were all informally asked to tweet this letter by the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT).
Another source said the “pressure” to contribute assumes different forms every other day, but has remained a constant since this fund was set up to combat the Covid-19 epidemic in India.
However, DoPT spokesperson and Press Information Bureau Director General Kuldeep Singh Dhatwalia downplayed the significance of the associations’ Wednesday appeal.
“Whenever such contributions are made, these are voluntary. Information during such crises is reached to all through whatever means of communication it is possible. During crisis, personal, government and non-government lines are immaterial,” Dhatwalia said in response to queries from ThePrint.
In the letter sent to secretaries of all departments last week, Gauba had said: “While the government is doing its best, it will be a noble gesture on the part of government officials to augment the resource pool by making voluntary monetary contribution to help fight the (Covid-19) challenge.”
The letter added: “Government officials have, during similar national crises in the past, contributed minimum one day’s salary. Hence it will be appreciated if an appeal is issued at your level to all officials working in your ministry/department as well as in the attached/subordinate offices and public sector undertakings to contribute to government’s efforts to deal with this unprecedented situation.”
After tweeting the communication, the IAS Association clarified in a subsequent tweet: “This contribution will be in addition to any donations or contributions already made for Covid-19.”
‘Nothing voluntary about the fund’
ThePrint had earlier reported how this constant nudging from senior officials to contribute money to the PM CARES fund had irked officers.
The second government source quoted at the beginning of this report, an IAS officer, said there has been constant pressure to contribute, and that there is nothing “voluntary” about the contributions.
“When every other day officials are being nudged to contribute, what is voluntary about the contributions?” the official asked. “We have all donated our salaries individually and through our association networks…But what is this constant pressure?”
Last week, ThePrint reported how a circular by the Department of Revenue had stated: “Any officer or staff having objection to it may intimate drawing and disbursing officer, Department of Revenue in writing mentioning his/her employee code latest by 20.4.2020.”
This has led to absolute lack of discretion, an IRS officer said on the condition of anonymity. “It is like if you do not want to donate, then give reasons for it…Who would want to get into that sort of confrontation?” the official asked.
The official also called the move to urge associations to tweet the letter tantamount to “coercion”.
An IIS officer, who also didn’t want to be named, said: “Associations are meant to represent the interests of the services…Nobody is opposed to donating their salaries, but there has to be discretion.”
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