Retirement, what’s that?
The thought of retirement does not cause anxiety in IAS officers in Punjab and Haryana, as one may imagine. Rather it is looked forward to and even advanced, in some case, because the babus have already set their eyes on post-retirement employment with the Government. Both State governments, of late, have been rather generous in doling out cushy positions to ex-babus.
In Punjab, several retired babus have found new assignments in the Punjab State Information Commission and the Punjab Right to Service Commission. Former Chief Secretary Ramesh Inder Singh now heads the State Information Commission, along with retired IAS officers Satinder Pal Singh and Parveen Kumar, B.C. Thakur and Narinderjit Singh, who are Information Commissioners. Sources say that out of 10 members in the Commission, five are former bureaucrats. Similarly, another former Chief Secretary S.C. Agrawal is heading the Punjab Right to Service Commission, along with retired colleagues S.M. Sharma (former DGP, Security) and IAS officer Iqbal Singh Sidhu. In neighbouring Haryana, again, it is the State Information Commission that has turned into a ‘retirement home’ for ex-babus, say sources. Apparently, since 2005 the State Government has either re-employed or granted six-month extensions to more than 30 IAS and IPS officers.
Although now most observers have been quick to point out that the appointment of Chief Economic Advisor Raghuram Rajan as the new Governor of the Reserve bank of India (RBI) was a shoo-in, not many however give credit to the room Rajan occupied in the North Block premises of the Finance Ministry. Apparently, Rajan’s room (No 132-A) has proven lucky for its occupants down the years. Most of them moved on to higher things. Before Rajan was brought into North Block last year, the room was occupied by Ms Omita Paul, who later was appointed as Secretary to the President and moved to Rashtrapati Bhavan. Rajan will now be the first non-IAS official to head the RBI. Interestingly, the room is located between that of Finance Minister P Chidambaram and Secretary of Department of Economic Affairs, Arvind Mayaram, who too had been in the race for the coveted post at RBI. But now with Rajan shifting out soon, the question is who will occupy Room 132-A, and will the lucky streak continue?
Though Shakti Sinha, a 1979 batch officer currently posted as Principal Secretary Finance (with added charge of power) insists that he has opted for voluntary retirement to “work outside the Government”, observers continue to read more into his move. Mr. Sinha is a senior IAS officer in the Delhi Government and had been Joint Secretary to former Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee. The buzz is that Mr Sinha was miffed with Dilli sarkar for being overlooked for the post of Chief Secretary, which went to his batchmate D.M. Spolia. It is also being said that Mr. Sinha’s views on Dilli’s power distribution companies who owe a huge amount to the Delhi Government, did not find favour with the authorities and that’s why he has called it quits. Whatever the reason, a senior bureaucrat’s departure barely a few months before elections is obviously going to makes ripples in babudom.