The new External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid has many things on his plate, not the least being finding foreign service officers to fill ambassadorial vacancies that are coming up mid next year. The Indian Foreign Service (IFS) is reportedly falling short of 23 officials for the posts of ambassadors and high commissioners. For some time now the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) has been dragging its heels when it comes to staffing. Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai has less than a year to go before his term ends but no name recommendations have been made. Meanwhile, joint secretaries are clearly overworked. Damu Ravi, sources say, is handling 19 Latin American countries in addition to 20 Caribbean nations!
But the MEA has reportedly finalised a plan to meet the exigency. Sources say that it hopes to add 50 more posts, of which only 35 will be for IFS officers. This reported move has upset junior level officers who feel that their career advancement will be hampered. All eyes are now on Khurshid to solve this vexed issue.
In a move that both defies the Central government as well as questions the ethics and practices followed by Government officials, many of Bihar’s babus have gone all out to show their support for Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on the issue of granting Bihar special category status, already rejected by the Centre.
The issue came to the fore when a District Agriculture Officer of Jamui district, Manoj Kumar, released an advertisement in the local newspaper welcoming Nitish Kumar on his visit to the district. But the District Officer is only the least of them, observers point out. In recent weeks several senior IAS officers like Principal Secretary Health, Vyas Ji, Secretary Planning, Vijay Prakash and Principal Secretary Education Amarjeet Sinha, to name a few, have all been chorusing opinion pieces in local newspapers justifying the demand for special status sought by Nitish Kumar.
Retired Delhi Metro chief E. Sreedharan may be admired across the nation, but not by a section of Kerala’s bureaucrats, where he seems to have landed in the middle of a babufeud, which shows every sign of turning into a political battle. Apparently, not many Kerala IAS officers are amenable to Sreedharan’s role in the Kochi metro project. It seems the former Delhi Metro chief has been insisting that the project be built only by the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC). Meanwhile, the Urban Development Secretary Sudhir Krishna is of the view that the DMRC cannot take up the project.
Now, sources say, State Transport Secretary Tom Jose, who belongs to the 1984 batch of the Kerala cadre, has written to Krishna opposing the attempt to rope in Sreedharan. Evidently, he’s not the only one against Sreedharan. The babus in the State are now divided on the issue and the Opposition parties are planning to turn this into a political issue, sources add.