Tracking India’s Bureaucrats Becomes a Digital Dashboard Venture

in The New York Times: “Beware, o lollygagging Indian bureaucrats. If it was not already apparent that Prime Minister Narendra Modi would display a schoolmaster’s intolerance for laxity, the recent introduction of an electronic monitoring system — capable of registering the daily entry and exit times of 100,000 government officials — has made the situation abundantly clear.

The system, accessible to the public on the website, began working in early October, providing a digital dashboard that so far displays the comings and goings of more than 50,600 employees spread across 150 departments.

The rollout of the Biometric Attendance System coincided with an article in The Times of India that said that the Bharatiya Janata Party’s president had fitted the vehicles of party members campaigning for state legislative elections with GPS units, gathering real-time evidence that they are, in fact, on the trail and not lingering in hotel lounges. Party officials would not confirm the report.

Many ordinary Indians have little love for bureaucrats, who are widely viewed as corrupt, indolent and obfuscating, and Mr. Modi’s pledge of toughness was a central message of his campaign. The arrival of the new government was accompanied by rumors — widely circulated but never confirmed — that his office maintained a list of officials with regular tee-times at exclusive golf courses and kept tabs on who was meeting whom in hotel clubs.

Voters approached last week expressed full-throated approval of the planned surveillance….”