Besides ensuring a crowd of 10,000 in the front lawns, when he will deliver his maiden address from the ramparts of the historic Red Fort on August 15, prime minister Narendra Modi has also sought attendance of all top babus in the Independence Day function. In a letter sent to all 96 secretaries of various departments and ministries, cabinet secretary Ajit Seth has asked them to not only to ensure presence of senior bureaucrats serving under them, but has also convey that an absence would be viewed seriously.
Bureaucrats here confess they used to receive invitation letters every year to attend both the Independence as well as Republic Day functions, but many of them would stay at their homes watching the function from the TV. Talking to dna, a joint secretary was aghast with the circular as he along with his wife, also a bureaucrat, has received the invitation letters. Both of them are mandated to attend the function. "Since the children below 12 years are not allowed, we have no idea what to do and who will take care of them, as maid have also taken leave August 15, and their schools are also closed," he said.
For security reasons, over the years, the successive governments had curtailed the Independence Day function, with only VVIPs attending it. But Modi has asked Delhi unit of BJP to ensure a respectable crowd, to recreate era of former prime ministers Jawaharlal Nehru and Indira Gandhi, who used to address large crowds while unfurling flags from the Red Fort. Apart from general public, babus would also give a miss to the function, as it is held early morning. Further the security paraphernalia demanded to reach in wee hours, almost two to three hours in advance.
The cabinet secretary's letter with the dna, states that it has been observed that there is, at times, low attendance of the official invitees to the ceremony. "This is unacceptable considering that the occasion is of great national importance. There is, clearly, a need to remind the officers that it is their duty to attend the Independence Day Ceremony," says the letter.
It further cautions officers that an absence would invite a wrath and disciplinary proceedings. "You might also caution them (officers) that a serious view would be taken of their absence on this occasion," the letter warned.