Who’ll Be Next CAG?
This is one appointment that you can expect the Government to approach with the greatest caution. The present Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) Vinod Rai’s term is ending in May and the UPA, for one, may actually be relieved, after all the trouble he has caused for the Government! Given the prominence the CAG has acquired in recent times, there are many who will vie to occupy Mr. Rai’s kursi.
Apparently, the lobbying has already begun. Since the stakes are high for not just the Congress who would prefer a more trustworthy person, but also the BJP which would not like to compromise unless the chosen person is one the party approves of. For now, those in the know say, the babus in contention are Banking Secretary D.K. Mittal, former former Secretary, Department of Personnel and Training, PK Mishra, and former Petroleum Secretary G.C. Chaturvedi. Incidentally, all belong to the UP cadre. No doubt, we shall hear about more names in the coming weeks and months.
Punters indicate that Mittal seems to have the edge, having reportedly secured the support of several politicians as well as corporates. But it’s early days yet. Watch this space for updates.
It’s not always the hapless public that pays for errors by babus in Government offices. Evidently, sometimes negligence and inefficiency claims even babus as its victims! West Bengal cadre IAS officer and current Additional Secretary in the Ministry of Environment and Forests Hem Kumar Pande was recently distraught to discover that he had become ten years junior to his batch mates, owing to a ‘mistake’ by babus of the Department of Personnel and Training. Pande, a 1982 batch officer was mistakenly shown as a 1992 batch IAS!
The issue arose when the DoPT issued an order on appointment of 1990 batch officer Ravi Shankar Prasad as Joint Secretary in the Environment ministry, to replace Pande, who would be Additional Secretary in the same Ministry. Ideally the mistake should have been noticed immediately since no 1992 batch officer is eligible for appointment as Additional Secretary! But the order signed by DoPT was sent to the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet (ACC) headed by the PM and distributed to Principal Secretary to PM Pulok Chatterjee, Environment Secretary V Rajagopalan and Joint Secretary in the Cabinet Secretariat Nivedita Shukla Verma, where it was finally spotted.
One usually does not associate multi-tasking with the sarkari work culture, but necessity has forced officials in Jharkhand to do just that. The reason is that despite Jharkhand becoming a full-fledged State more than 12 years ago, it faces a severe babu crunch. Consequently, it is not unusual to see senior bureaucrats and police officers handling more than their primary tasks.
According to sources, Jharkhand has a mere 114 IAS officers against the allotted cadre strength of 208. Among these, at least 16 officers are on Central deputation. This results in one babu holding two or sometimes even three portfolios and not doing justice to even one. But, sources say, few serving babus have dared to complain about the need to strengthen administration. The voices of those who are speaking out belong to babus who have safely retired! Former Chief Secretary A.K. Singh blames the carving out of the new State from Bihar in which the State got only got one-third of the IAS officers but the number of departments remained the same.