Babus Question Transfers
The Durga Shakti episode in Uttar Pradesh seems to have woken up the bureaucracy to challenge what was once the staple weapon of politicians to chastise or punish irksome babus transfers. A beginning of sorts was made when the State IAS Officers Association spoke up publicly in support of the IAS officer who was controversially transferred by Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav and reinstated only after a nationwide outcry. But now, others too seem to have been inspired to stand up for themselves against wilful State netas, even though the Centre has been unwilling to come out in their support.
The Indian Police Service (Central) Association, sources say, has made a formal representation to the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT), headed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh over State politicians abusing their power to suspend or transfer officials. The association general secretary Pankaj Singh has cited example of 2003-batch IPS officer Ajay Misra in Uttar Pradesh who was suspended for 15 months and Mayank Srivastava who was suspended in Chattisgarh earlier this year. Will the Centre try to restrain States from abusing their powers? Don’t count on it yet.
The Indian Foreign Service (IFS) has managed to recover a prestigious diplomatic post from the clutches of the Indian Administrative Service. India’s new Permanent Representative to UNESCO is a 1987-batch IFS officer Ruchira Kamboj, who at present is Chief of Protocol with the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA). This ambassador-rank position based in Paris, sources say, used to be reserved for career diplomats, until the Government appointed Vinay Sheel Oberoi, a 1979-batch IAS officer in 2010. This move, naturally, had led to much grumbling in the diplomatic ranks. With Ms Kamboj’s appointment, the IFS lobby seems to have reclaimed some of its turf from the powerful IAS lobby, which has spread its influence by poaching on what other services consider as their own domains. But how long can the IFS hold on to its turf is what many are wondering about.
In a move that has got incompetent babus worried, the Government has decided to shed dead wood in the bureaucracy by weeding out officers whose performance has been below expectations. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had first proposed this rule in 2004, soon after the UPA came to power, but it was shelved soon thereafter. Now the Government has once again decided to implement it. According to the Department of Personnel and Training three cadres, namely Himachal Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and AGMUT have already begun reviewing the performance of IAS officers while Punjab and some other states are likely to start the process soon. Sources say that at least three IAS officers belonging to the AGMUT cadre have been recommended for premature retirement for inefficiency and ineffective performance. Their names have not been disclosed, but those in the know say that the babus are contesting the recommendation, though it is unlikely the DoPT will change its mind.