Babu of delhi

Babus forever

It’s easier for a woman bureaucrat to become a Chief Secretary of a state than Cabinet Secretary. While we’ve seen quite a few women heading state bureaucracies, we’ve not seen a woman at the top of the heap at the Centre (Sudha Pillai perhaps came the closest to becoming Cabinet Secretary in 2009, but that’s another story). On the other hand, Minnie Mathew has just become Andhra Pradesh’s new Chief Secretary, the second woman in the state to hold the top position.
In her short 8-month term, among other onerous responsibilities, Mathew will also oversee the multi-agency probes against several top bureaucrats. Still. She has joined the small but growing club of women Chief Secretaries that includes the likes of Shailaja Chandra (Delhi’s first woman Chief Secretary), successive women Chief Secretaries in Himachal Pradesh (Asha Swaroop, Rajwant Sandhu and Harinder Hira), former Tamil Nadu Chief Secretary S. Malathi and first woman Chief Secretary of Uttar Pradesh, Neera Yadav.

 

Absent babus

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Himachal Pradesh’s administration is under strain due to the government’s inability to retain its IAS officers. Most of these officers quit service to work with international agencies. In recent years, at least six IAS officers have quit the service for greener pastures. Most recently, an HP cadre IAS officer, Rahul Anand, is on the verge of losing his job for failing to report for duty after his application for leave was turned down last year.
Apparently, the 1996-batch IAS officer first took 5 years off as study leave and then sought further leave of 3 years as he had got an assignment with the International Monetary Fund in Washington, DC. The government, however, is of the view that his failure to report for duty for an extended period be deemed as resignation! Earlier, last year, another senior IAS officer, Manisha Shridhar, had quit the IAS after being served a similar notice. She chose to resign. But it’s clear that the state government is taking a hard line with its babus.

Life at the top

It’s easier for a woman bureaucrat to become a Chief Secretary of a state than Cabinet Secretary. While we’ve seen quite a few women heading state bureaucracies, we’ve not seen a woman at the top of the heap at the Centre (Sudha Pillai perhaps came the closest to becoming Cabinet Secretary in 2009, but that’s another story). On the other hand, Minnie Mathew has just become Andhra Pradesh’s new Chief Secretary, the second woman in the state to hold the top position.
In her short 8-month term, among other onerous responsibilities, Mathew will also oversee the multi-agency probes against several top bureaucrats. Still. She has joined the small but growing club of women Chief Secretaries that includes the likes of Shailaja Chandra (Delhi’s first woman Chief Secretary), successive women Chief Secretaries in Himachal Pradesh (Asha Swaroop, Rajwant Sandhu and Harinder Hira), former Tamil Nadu Chief Secretary S. Malathi and first woman Chief Secretary of Uttar Pradesh, Neera Yadav.

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