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India launches website to stop bureaucrats slacking

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India's new right-wing government has begun an online trial run to register staff attendance records, seeking to tackle absenteeism among the country's notoriously work-shy bureaucrats. - PHOTO: AFP

[NEW DELHI] India's new right-wing government has begun an online trial run to register staff attendance records, seeking to tackle absenteeism among the country's notoriously work-shy bureaucrats.

New Prime Minister Narendra Modi pledged during his election campaign to crack the whip on civil servants, notorious for arriving late, taking long lunches or spending parts of their day on the golf course.

The new system will use fingerprints to ensure that workers have to physically turn up, and will not be able to clock in on each other's behalf.

"The basic principle behind this (project) is to ensure that there is no ghost worker," a government official involved with the programme told AFP on Wednesday on condition of anonymity.

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"Everyone is equal under this new system, unlike before, when junior workers would mark attendance on a register but senior officers would not necessarily (do so)," she added.

The website, attendance.gov.in, is hooked up to special computers in government offices that will identify employees through their fingerprint and a unique identity number, a process that takes less than a second, according to the government official.

Nearly 50,000 government employees are already using the site since it was set up on a trial basis two months ago and another 10,000 will be added before it officially launches in a few months, the source said.

A daily online graph displayed on the website shows peaks and troughs every time government employees clock in and out of their office.

It is the latest attempt by Mr Modi to whip the country's vast civil service into shape. Last week, bureaucrats were expected to take part in a mass clean-up of government buildings - many of which stink of stale urine and are littered with rubbish - at the prime minister's instigation.-AFP

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