MEA Acts Firm
Despite intense opposition from the mighty IAS lobby, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) is likely to gets its way in creating a new post of Secretary (Public Affairs). Apparently the IAS lobby, including Cabinet Secretary Ajit Seth, believe that the MEA, with five secretaries, does not need another secretary-level post. Even though there are five secretaries, another post is in the making. But the MEA mandarins found strong backing from their minister S.M. Krishna who has been pushing the idea of another secretary, despite resistance from Mr Seth and others.
The Secretary for Public Affairs is expected to be a nodal post dealing with visa matters, Haj issues, matters of publicity and public diplomacy. The new secretary would also be responsible for aligning the four divisions within the ministry to ensure smooth functioning. The issue has now been referred to the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) and the Finance Ministry and is expected to be placed before the Cabinet soon. Will the IAS lobby still stymie the plan or will MEA’s mandarins get their way?
Cracking the Whip
Its image badly bruised by the corruption allegations, the UPA government is now pushing hard to demonstrate that it is doing what needs to be done, at least by acting against corrupt officials. The Department of Personnel and Training has reportedly ordered all ministries to set up new mechanisms to curb corruption and also speed up prosecution of tainted babus. Sources say that personnel secretary P.K. Misra is closely monitoring the cases. He is, no doubt, under pressure from the top to produce results.
Recently the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) advised action against 172 officials for their alleged involvement in corrupt practices. But there are many more instances where ministries have failed to act against tainted babus, and delayed citing procedural difficulties. Misra now has the onerous but necessary task of ensuring that pending graft cases are dealt with in a timely manner.
One Post, Many Babus
Karnataka takes human rights seriously. At least the State Human Rights Commission is enjoying a spike in popularity among the tribesmen, especially those who just retired. Sources say that at least 14 retired babus, among others, have applied for the post of member of the panel. The panel currently requires a new team of members including chairperson. While the state government has shortlisted names of a few former chief justices for the chairperson’s post, its the post of member that the ex-babus are apparently keen on. In the running are retired babus G.M. Dhananjaya, P. Ganeshan, K.G. Gopalakrishne Gowda, S.M. Jamdar, G.V. Kongawad, Meera Saxena, T.Y. Nayaz Ahmed, C.N. Seetharam, D. Venkateshwara Rao, Shankar Patil, M V Murthy, K.V. Ravindranath Tagore and G.K. Bore Gowda.
Which one will make it now lies in the hands of the selection panel comprising the Chief Minister, Opposition leaders in the Legislative Assembly, Home Minister among others.