Saturday July 20, 2019
Home India Govt does bac...

Govt does background check on ministries’ consultants

0
//

By NewsGram Staff Writer

New Delhi: Looking into the matter of alleged leak of official documents from ministries, government is starting to collect details of all consultants working in its department and ministries, but get their salaries from external agencies.

lok_sabha_india_hd_images_computer_backgroundExternal agencies, including UN bodies, fund many consultants under bilateral and multilateral agreements. A three member panel headed by Cabinet Secretary P.K. Sinha, is assessing the details collected. The other two members in the panel are Finance Secretary Ratan Watal and Secretary, Ministry of External Affairs.

The Department of Economic Affairs (DEA) is collecting and compiling together the information, to be viewed by the three-member panel.

As reported in The Indian Express, all ministries and departments have been sent a 24-point questionnaire about the consultants and told to explain “the need/justification for external support.”

The questionnaire also asks if the consultant in question reports to the ministry or directly to the bilateral/multilateral institution; and is the work of the consultant shared with the bilateral/multilateral institution.

The consultants work for ministries and departments which include the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change,Women and Child Development, Human Resource Development, Social Justice and Empowerment, Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, Science and Technology, Rural Development, Panchayati Raj, Planning Commission (now known as the NITI Aayog), and missions/directorates under them.

There is no exact count of number of consultants tabulated as of yet, but around 100 work with the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, and another 80 are attached to the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change.

The DEA sent questionnaires to the ministries and departments on July 23, after a decision was taken regarding the same on July 16.

A letter by the DEA said, “Committee has now directed to obtain detailed information about engagement of consultants/advisers from each ministry/department.

Information collected from the questionnaire will reveal the level at which the decision was taken to engage the consultants; whether the position was advertised; whether an interview was held; whether the selection was made by the ministry or by the bilateral/multilateral institution; whether the consultant had prior experience of working in the ministry/bilateral-multilateral institution; the salary structure; terms of reference; and, whether feedback on quality of output is taken into consideration prior to release of payment.

Some ministries/departments have filled in the details while others are still in the process of submitting their replies.

 

Next Story

Government Seeks Reply From TikTok, Asks to Answer Queries or Face Ban

In April this year, the Madras High Court had passed an interim order banning TikTok citing inappropriate and pornographic content. The ban was subsequently lifted

0
tik tok
TikTok is fast catching up: it has been downloaded more than 240 million times in India so far, according to app analytics firm Sensor Tower. VOA

The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (Meity) has sought response from controversial social media apps TikTok and Helo on a set of questions, ranging from whether the apps are considering storing data within India and what measures they were taking to prevent users below age 18 from getting exposed to potentially dangerous content.

The social media platforms have time till July 22 to reply to the questions or face ban in the country, according to sources.

The notice was sent to the operators of the apps on Wednesday after Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh’s (RSS) economic wing Swadeshi Jagran Manch (SJM) sent a letter to the Prime Minister, alleging that these social media platforms were being used for anti-national activities.

The IT Ministry asked what data from users in India are being collected by these platforms.

It also sought clarifications on allegations that the Helo app had paid a huge sum for putting 11,000 morphed political ads on other social media platforms.

One particular focus of the questions were around the security of users below age 18. Specifically, it asked what was the rationale behind the minimum age limit (13) to use TikTok in India when “a person below 18 is considered as child in the country”.

TikTok
The logo of the TikTok application is seen on a screen in this picture illustration taken Feb. 21, 2019. VOA

TikTok introduced “age gate” to restrict children from using the app. The ministry asked whether this age gate mechanism restricts users below age 18.

In a statement shared with IANS, TikTok said it welcomes the “opportunity to fully collaborate with the government to meet and exceed our obligations”.

“India is one of our strongest markets and we are happy to be part of the mainframe of Digital India in 15 Indian languages,” TikTok said in a statement.

“In line with our commitment to India, we are investing $1 billion in India over the next three years, with a strategic focus on developing technology infrastructure, establishing local partnerships and supporting initiatives such as the Skill India Program which we are proud to be assisting with already,” said the short-video-sharing app owned by Chinese start-up ByteDance.

Also Read: Samsung Refreshes its Galaxy A Series in India

The operators of TikTok earlier this year agreed to pay $5.7 million to settle the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) allegations that the company illegally collected personal information from children.

In April this year, the Madras High Court had passed an interim order banning TikTok citing inappropriate and pornographic content. The ban was subsequently lifted. (IANS)