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PMO wants to screen internet footprint of candidates for top govt jobs: Report

The government has put in place a seven-step screening process for all appointments to key institutions and organisations; beginning with a candidate’s internet footprint and ends with clearance from the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), reported The Economic Times.

The process appears to the most comprehensive to be followed for appointments to government institutions. Officials told ET that in cases where the assent of the President is required another three levels are added to the screening. The process will also evaluate candidates’ ideological leanings, personal or public, by tracking their internet footprint, social media as well as past associations, to assess their relationship with the previous government or with organisations seen as anti-government in any way.

The screening process will expectedly make the appointment time longer, some key institutions will have to wait longer for top vacancies will be filled. A government official told ET that once approved with this process, the candidate will be foolproof.

The seven-step screening process

The screening process begins with a simple tracking of a candidate’s internet footprint including comments related to the candidate to check the “general perception” of the candidate. The second step a screening of the candidate’s social media profile and accounts, with a closer look at the candidate’s comments and views on the ruling dispensation, government policies and current issues. Officials told ET that this is a crucial stage; strong comments even by friends and associates of a candidate on social media can lead to the candidate’s elimination.

Next is a  ‘perception audit’ to consider the candidate’s concerns over corruption convictions or even allegations, regarding the candidate’s public or private life. The fourth step involves a 360-degree where the candidate’s current superiors and colleagues are quizzed to “understand” the candidate better.

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The fifth stage involves an intensive background check, and can possibly require Intelligence Bureau clearance for a candidate. The PMO steps directly into the picture from this stage on, according to the ET report.

The sixth round of screening is crucial and as it has seen many heavyweight candidates lose out, according to ET. Candidates are assessed on their past association, professional, personal and ideological affiliations with the previous government or with organisations seen as anti-government in any way.

The seventh stage involves the final clearance from the PMO, which has its own screening mechanism. In all major appointments, Prime Minister Narendra Modi himself takes the final call.

In appointments where the President’s approval is required, for instance in the case of vice-chancellors of central universities or some cultural bodies, another three steps get added as the Rashtrapati Bhavan under President Ram Nath Kovind also performs its own due diligence on the candidates.

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