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Modi govt ‘weighs proposal’ to allow IRS, IAS officers to work from home even after lockdown

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New Delhi: The Modi government is examining a proposal that suggests making work-from-home a formal provision for IAS and IRS officers and other government employees after the Covid-19 lockdown ends, ThePrint has learnt.

The proposal has been drafted by CARUNA – a platform created by civil servants across different services – to assist the government in its Covid-19 efforts, officers said. 

While Department of Personnel & Training (DoPT) spokesperson Shambhu Choudhary said there was no such proposal under consideration, sources in the department claimed there was.

According to the sources, the proposal is being examined by the DoPT, and the department could soon draft guidelines to institute work from home as a formal provision. 


Also read: India’s one lesson from Covid crisis and work-from-home: How to build a real smart city


First experiment successful

Discussing how the proposal came about, a government officer associated with CARUNA said the Covid-19 lockdown was the administration’s first experiment with work from home and it had proved successful.

“Work from home as a practice was never quite adopted by the government sector even though it is very popular in the private sector…” the officer added. “During the Covid-19 lockdown, the government of India, for the first time, was compelled to adopt the practice, and it worked.” 

According to the officer, while “a lot of work slowed down because of the shock that Covid-19 gave to the government, work didn’t stop even though most officials were operating from home”.

“Since this is a practice that can lead to more efficiency, the government is exploring ways to formalise it,” the officer added.

If the government decides to institutionalise the practice, it will have to come up with guidelines and specify how the provision can be availed of, how many times it can be availed of, under what circumstances, and so on, the officer said. 

In March, when the Modi government first announced a nationwide lockdown to contain the spread of Covid-19, the DoPT came up with detailed guidelines for staff to work from home as much as possible. 

While central government offices sprang back to life this week, about two-thirds of the staff below deputy security level rank are still working from home.


Also read: Not a win-win situation — why we should not work from home after the Covid-19 lockdown


 

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India

Andhra doctor, suspended for alleging PPE shortage, now beaten by cops for ‘creating nuisance’

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Bengaluru: A doctor with a government hospital in Andhra Pradesh, who was suspended for questioning the shortage of PPE kits, was admitted to a mental health facility Sunday, a day after he was allegedly manhandled by the police and arrested for creating nuisance in Visakhapatnam.

Dr Sudhakar Rao, a government civil surgeon, was beaten, his hands tied behind his back and dragged by police officers Sunday. During the incident, Sudhakar allegedly verbally abused the Jagan Mohan Reddy government in an inebriated state. Videos of the incident have since been widely shared online.

“The police control room received a call about a person creating nuisance on Beach Road Hospital in Visakhapatnam. The Fourth Town police was rushed there and found that the person was the suspended doctor, Sudhakar.

“When the police tried to control him, he snatched the mobile phone of an officer and threw it away. He is suffering from mental disorder and he was drunk. He was sent for a medical examination,” Vishakapatnam Police Commissioner R.K. Meena told the media Sunday.

Sudhakar was admitted to a mental hospital Sunday after doctors at the King George Hospital in Vishakapatnam said he suffered from anxiety.

“Since the doctor is in anxiety and talking irrelevant things, I have referred him to a mental care hospital in Visakhapatnam,” said Dr Radha Rani, medical superintendent, King George Hospital.

A statement released by the hospital said: “Dr Sudhakar was brought to the KGH casualty ward at 6.30 pm. From the smell, it was found that he was in a drunk condition. Under the influence of alcohol, he did not cooperate with anybody there and kept abusing all. Still, his pulse, BP were checked. Pulse was 98, BP 140/100. Blood samples were sent to forensic lab to ascertain alcohol content in his blood.”


Also read: 6 toilets for 20 houses, inadequate testing: Why Mumbai’s Worli chawls are a Covid hotspot


‘Treatment towards Sudhakar was inhuman’

Sudhakar, who spent more than 10 years at the Narsipatnam Government Hospital in Andhra Pradesh, was suspended from his duties in March after he openly criticised the Reddy government for failing to provide PPE kits and N95 masks to doctors treating Covid-19 patients.

He had alleged that the state government was giving N95 masks and PPE kits meant for doctors to politicians and the police.

A video of Sudhakar criticising the government was also shared widely. In the clip, he can be heard saying: “We are putting our lives at risk here. We are asked to use the same mask for 15 days and a fresh mask will be provided only twice a month.”

Speaking to ThePrint, Dr P. Gangadhar Rao, member of the National COVID Committee of the Indian Medical Association, said the manner in which Sudhakar was manhandled by the police was “inhuman” and “violated” human rights.

“We strongly condemn the way he was taken into custody. He was not carrying a weapon, he was alone, the number of policemen outnumbered him. Why treat him like that? We also saw a video where a policeman beats him with a lathi,” said Dr Gangadhar.

He added that Rao was one of the most experienced anaesthetists the Andhra Pradesh government had.

“Our next step of action is to get Sudhakar to write an unconditional apology for having used filthy language, abusing the chief minister and the government. We will then take our appeal to the CM seeking that he be reinstated,” Gangadhar said.


Also read: Face shields, gowns, masks — the new attire for cabin crew post lockdown


 

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