New Delhi: The Narendra Modi government has put on hold all proposed foreign training stints for its officials in the 2020-21 financial year. Any foreign training needed in “exceptional circumstances” will be permitted, but with the prior approval of the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT).
Officials say while the immediate reason is the Covid-19 pandemic that has forced severe restrictions on international travel, a change in policy has been in the works for some time now, largely because of the precarious fiscal situation.
Government of India officials are sent for mid-career training programmes to various foreign universities, including Harvard, Cambridge, University of California Berkeley, and the Australia and New Zealand School of Government, among others.
In an order dated 15 June, the Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions said: “Due to the outbreak of Covid-19 pandemic and in view of the safety measures and the financial austerity, all cadre controlling authorities (CCAs) and Central Training Institutes (CTIs) are informed that no foreign training shall be conducted during the current financial year 2020-2021.
“However, under exceptional circumstances, if it is felt necessary to conduct any foreign training, prior approval of DoPT must be obtained.”
Cadre controlling authorities are the ministries that decide on postings, training etc of various all India services — DoPT is the CCA for the Indian Administrative Service (IAS), the home ministry for the Indian Police Service, the Ministry of External Affairs for the Indian Foreign Service (IFS), and so on.
We are deeply grateful to our readers & viewers for their time, trust and subscriptions.
Quality journalism is expensive and needs readers to pay for it. Your support will define our work and ThePrint’s future.
Changes were in the pipeline before Covid
Sources said the Modi government had been contemplating changes in its Domestic Funding of Foreign Training (DFFT) programme for some time now, amid concerns about rising costs.
In 2019-20, more than 300 officers were sent abroad to attend programmes of varying duration, with the total cost estimated to have been more than Rs 50 crore.
In a letter to the CCAs in January this year, the DoPT had said the DFFT policy could undergo an overhaul. There were some suggestions at that point that instead of physically travelling abroad, the option to attend programmes online should be explored, especially given the NDA government’s push for the introduction of technology in government programmes.
This was before the Covid-19 pandemic forced all education and training programmes to shift online around the world.
“This order is not just about Covid, because it is not possible to tell how long the pandemic and the present travel restrictions will last. It is possible that travel becomes easier and universities restart programmes in the coming months. However, regardless of that situation, foreign training will not happen for the rest of this financial year without the express permission of the DoPT,” said a senior government official.
News media is in a crisis & only you can fix it
You are reading this because you value good, intelligent and objective journalism. We thank you for your time and your trust.
You also know that the news media is facing an unprecedented crisis. It is likely that you are also hearing of the brutal layoffs and pay-cuts hitting the industry. There are many reasons why the media’s economics is broken. But a big one is that good people are not yet paying enough for good journalism.
We have a newsroom filled with talented young reporters. We also have the country’s most robust editing and fact-checking team, finest news photographers and video professionals. We are building India’s most ambitious and energetic news platform. And we aren’t even three yet.
At ThePrint, we invest in quality journalists. We pay them fairly and on time even in this difficult period. As you may have noticed, we do not flinch from spending whatever it takes to make sure our reporters reach where the story is. Our stellar coronavirus coverage is a good example. You can check some of it here.
This comes with a sizable cost. For us to continue bringing quality journalism, we need readers like you to pay for it. Because the advertising market is broken too.
If you think we deserve your support, do join us in this endeavour to strengthen fair, free, courageous, and questioning journalism, please click on the link below. Your support will define our journalism, and ThePrint’s future. It will take just a few seconds of your time.