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.
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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.
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.
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Finally. 50 crores expenditure so that babus and their families can chill in foreign countries at tax payers expense is ridiculous. Everyone knows this training is a sham.
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