[PDF Notes] Complete essay on the origin of PMO of India

Immediately after independence Jawaharlal Nehru assumed the office of Prime Minister and PMO that point of time was a small organisation attached to the PM.

It was headed by H.M. Patel, distinguished member of ICS who was also a joint secretary of the Viceroy executive council, functioned as a de facto Cabinet Secretariat. He was also appointed as the principal private secretary to Nehru.

In parliamentary democracy, Cabinet is the apex body and Cabinet Secretariat is the ape administrative unit. In terms of working there is no rivalry between Cabinet Secretarial and PMO. Jawaharlal Nehru was a democrat and had a great regard for constitutional authorities.

Cabinet secretary was given primary importance and PMO was a small personal office of the PM performing mostly administrative functions and the importance of cabinet secretary was in no way affected because ol PMO. Nehru also downgraded the post of his principal private secretary to the level of joint secretary, thereby ensuring clear authority and precedence to the cabinet secretary.

Lai Bahadur Shastri succeeded Nehru and strengthened the PMO and made it a powerful organ of the government. The same trend was continued by Indira Gandhi also. L.K.Jha was the principal secretary to the PM during the tenure of Lai Bahadur Shastri was also the head of PMO.

In 1967 P.N. Haskar was appointed to PMO from 1967-1977. PMO became the most powerful organ replacing Cabinet Secretariat. It fell to the temptation of bypassing the formal channels of hierarchy and created a rival power centre to Cabinet Secretariat. Apart from administrative functions, it also performed political functions of the PM, in the process politicizing administrative organs.

Janata Party came to power in 1977 and initially it restored the balance of power in favour ol Cabinet Secretariat but faced with political instability PM Morarji Desai took the help of PMO in performing political functions.

Indira Gandhi returned to power in 1980 and P. C. Alexander was made the head of PMO. During this period cabinet secretary regained its confidence and PMO acted as an institution to aid and advice the PM.

During the tenure of Rajiv Gandhi, PMO again became powerful as it was filled with technocrats and specialists in administration but cabinet secretary retained its own identity and there was coordination between the two during this period.

PMO again became powerful during the tenure of P. V. Narasimha Rao as it extended its scope of authority to all departments within the government. During the tenure of Vajpayee PMO was powerful though the powerful cabinet secretariat also retained its identity.

At present PMO has more than 350 people working for it. It has a large establishment and every ministry/ department of Central Government is represented in PMO. Because of the authority yielded by the PMO it has been criticised as ‘Super cabinet’, ‘Super Ministry’, the ‘Government of the Government of India, etc.

Because of the enlarging scope of functions performed by PM, PMO has become a necessity. The power and prestige enjoyed by PMO since independence reflected the power and prestige enjoyed by the prime minister respectively. In Prime Ministerial form of Government, PMO enjoyed unquestioned power and relegated CS to the secondary position.

Under the present circumstances PMO should be a highly professional body and should function through the system and not try to bypass it. Increasing complexity of governance, while the PM deals with the contenders for power and deals with socio, economic and political complexities at home and abroad, cannot deal with himself without a score of specilised advisors on the patterns of US president.

Prime Minister should keep a crucial watch over the performance of his ministers to ensure a proper image of his government and should also display equal vigilance to ensure that the officials in the PMO do not misuse their position and power. Both CS and PMO perform the role of coordination but of different types. PMO has to coordinate with the PM’s team of ministers to enable the PM to discharge his responsibilities as the Chief Executive. It is the job of the CS to coordinate the work of Council of Ministers.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *