New ministers Piyush Goyal, Dharmendra Pradhan and Narendra Singh Tomar say no to freebies

Great start. You have shown everyone the right way Modiji. Proud of you.

NEW DELHI: Two weeks into the tenure of the Narendra Modi-led government, executives of state-run blue-chip firms are already feeling a perceptible change at the Centre. The offices of power minister Piyush Goyal, petroleum minister Dharmendra Pradhan and steel minister Narendra Singh Tomar have not sought freebies such as air tickets, guest houses, personal staff or vehicles for their families or staff members.

This is a decisive departure from the past, executives told ET, admitting that the first task of chairmen of public sector giants after the installation of a new central government often used to be to ensure a fleet of swanky sedans and household helps, among other facilities, to make life easier for the staff of the ministers.

The central ministers have always had at their beck and call chief executives seeking quick approvals for juicy contracts, foreign junkets and extension to their tenures; directors aspiring to head blue-chip companies; and senior executives whose job is to liaise with these privileged people - the bunch that surrounds powerful cabinet ministers and deftly makes political masters inaccessible to the world.

But executives of firms such as NTPC, ONGC, SAIL, BHEL, IOC and Gail say the new government seems different. "It sounds unusual. Not only minister and their personal staff, we had to oblige their close friends and associates right from the swearing-in ceremony. I think this is the Modi effect. It seems everyone is emulating him," said a former chairman of a maharatna oil firm, requesting anonymity.

Things are different at Goyal's office, says a serving chairman of a company. "Despite several requests, we could not easily get time to meet and greet him," said the chairman, who did not wish to be identified. For many public sector bigwigs, this change could make life tougher.

With companies making profits of thousands of crores of rupees, a few air tickets, paid holidays in luxury resorts and white goods were a small price to pay to get the top authorities to look aside when there was some bungling in business. But this time, the ministers demand performance, not indulgence, senior government officials and executives said.

"Top ONGC executives faced a difficult situation while demanding some exemption from paying fuel subsidy at a meeting with the oil minister. The minister questioned their performance as they bid and bagged about 50 per cent of blocks the government auctioned under new exploration licensing policy, but not even one was producing," a person present at the meeting said. ONGC chairman DK Sarraf declined to comment on the matter.

Pradhan had earlier told ET that his entire focus would be on enhancing oil and gas output and that he had directed state-run oil companies to improve management efficiency on priority. Goyal has been even more blunt in his approach as he did not give appointments to many top executives of power and coal PSUs to offer bouquets.

Earlier, there have been cases of people getting out of turn postings, plum appointments or petrol pumps allotted in the name of a family member, just by indulging the oil minister. Taking care of ministers' families and personal staff was a major part of the job of executives of state-run firms, a senior executive of a public sector power company said.

"In the past, we not only bought air tickets for personal staff of minister and their families but also gave daily allowances to their wives and children whenever they went abroad," a retired chairman of a state-run firm said, adding that the firms used to reclaim such sums from contractors that were ever ready to oblige in hope of getting bigticket contracts. more  

View all 11 comments Below 11 comments
I appreciate Modi government not to give favour to babu's family, Ministers', their relatives and friends. Shun the brokers from the corridors of ministry. more  
If its true then we can say good days will come surely. more  
Bravo. Three cheers to the new leaders of a proactive and responsible government!...This is actually a big way to control corruption and favoritism - the practice of you-scratch-my-back-I-scratch-yours, was the one causing most of the malpractices in our governance machinery!...Bravo, setting this kind of an example, is a big motivation for like minded people, and a big deterrent for others with skewed mentality. more  
It is good and heartening to hear such true stories. It is after all a simple exercise of " Honest Do s and Dont s " to be evolved by the people concerned. Well experienced in the public field and the veterans have their own way of life style. We only have to adore them. more  
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