Rules are made for lesser mortals, clearly not for Ministers. Though there is a Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) directive since March 2010 effectively placing a ceiling of 10 years on any officer serving on the personal staff of a Minister irrespective of the level, the rule is flouted more often than followed. According to sources at least 87 such officers continue to serve on the personal staff of various Ministers, despite having completed the prescribed tenure of 10 years. Apparently, the Ministers requested the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) to be allowed to retain their pet babus, a request which was accepted.
Among the Ministers who sent special requests to the PMO in this regard are Kamal Nath, Sushil Kumar Shinde, Salman Khurshid and Praful Patel, among others. The babus on this ‘elite’ list include six officers on special duty — U.K. Mitra, N.K. Gauri, V.K. Dhand, S.V. Pillai, S.N. Sharma and Giri Ketharaj. The list also includes three Personal Secretaries, 29 Additional Secretaries and 24 Assistant Private Secretaries. The DoPT directive, meanwhile, remains as a meaningless piece of paper in a file.
The backlash against the suspension of an IAS officer by the Samajwadi Party Government has forced Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav to “reconsider” the issue. It may have come as a surprise to Mr Yadav that his babus, in a rare display of solidarity with their colleague, chose to protest an act which is widely being seen as penalising an honest official who dared to crack down on the notorious sand mafia in Noida. Such instances of babu solidarity are rare in Uttar Pradesh where the fractious politics has resulted in a fractured bureaucracy, with bureaucrats openly aligning with one political dispensation or the other. However Durga Shakti Nagpal, a 2009-batch IAS officer has now joined the ranks of such babus as Ashok Khemka, Sanjiv Chaturvedi, Uma Shankar, Mugha Sinha, Anand Swaroop and Rahul Sharma, among others, who became victims of politics while simply doing their
A post-Kargil war proposal to constitute a permanent chairman of the Chief of Staff Committee for the Armed Forces lies practically abandoned since the defence establishment is divided over the issue. In fact, sources say the babus at the Ministry of Defence are using the turf war within the armed forces to keep the issue off the table. Creating this position was one of the key military administration reforms suggested in the aftermath of the Kargil conflict by a committee headed by former Cabinet Secretary and former Ambassador to Washington, Naresh Chandra. Unfortunately, only the Navy seems to back it while the army brass is definitely against creation of a post, which will effectively place someone directly above them in the hierarchy. Interestingly, Defence Minister A.K. Antony continues to insist that the issue is still under consideration, but the word is that Defence Secretary R.K. Mathur, like his predecessors, and the rest of the MoD babus seem to prefer status quo.