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   Not many people know that the Prime Minister has a special secretariat... (February 12, 1985)

Not many people know that the Prime Minister has a special secretariat that plans and handles all his travel plans.

An official of the secretariat took me around the office and showed me how it works. "It is one of the most important departments of the government departments of the government and only best men of the IAS and IFS are recruited to it," the official said. "After all, on what it does, the future of world peace and international disarmament depends."

We passed by a small group, which was drinking champagne and eating a cake. The official, seeing me looking at the group, explained. "Occasionally, we let them put their hair down, that is our japan cell and they are celebrating the successful completion of the Prime Minister's Japan visit.

"You have one cell for each country?" I asked.

"For most countries, we have one cell. Then there are countries which are lumped together like some of the countries in Africa and Latin America though Cuba has a cell to itself. The Soviet Union and the United States have three cells each."

"What is in that large enclosed area?" I asked.

"I will show you," he said, taking me inside. There was large map of the world on the wall and a lot of men were pinning green, red and orange flags on it. "This is our planning department. It is here that we decide which countries the Prime Minister should visit next."

A senior member of the tour-planning department then took me around his department. "The red flags are for the countries that the prime minister has already visited, the green ones are for those that he is going to visit shortly, the orange ones are for countries that the prime minister has visited twice and would like to visit a third time.

A man was sitting on a computer, working furiously. The senior member explained. "After yesterday's statement at the airport about the prime minister being prepared to visit nuclear facilities in Pakistan, he is working out whether we should put a green flag on Pakistan or not."

There were several other departments that I visited. One of them people sitting with word processors and working out the prime minister's speeches to various foreign parliaments and state dinner. On one desk, a man was sitting not doing any work. I was told he was in charge of writing speeches for the Prime Minister's wife.

There were also ticket counters where people were being issued tickets. The official explained "They are all correspondents who will be accompanying the Prime Minister on his various tours in his special plane."

The official continued. "Over here, we work up to the minute. For instance, we have package tour deal, which provides. The prime minister with a tour every day, if he wants to go."

"That's interesting," I said. "Where have you scheduled the prime minister for tomorrow?"

"Let me see," said the official, closing his eyes for a second. Then he opened them and said: "Yes, if it is Tuesday, it must be Belgium."

 
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