Change At The Top
Over the next few months the Finance Ministry is expected to see several top-level changes but a beginning has been made with Ratan Watal, a 1978 batch IAS officer of the Andhra Pradesh cadre set to become the new Expenditure Secretary once the current Finance Secretary R.S. Gujral retires at the end of the month. Until then Watal will be Officer on Special Duty in the Department of Expenditure. Sources say he has the arduous task of cutting expenditure without compromising on growth.
Meanwhile Revenue Secretary Sumit Bose is set to become the next Finance Secretary. The 1976-batch Madhya Pradesh cadre officer is the senior-most of the five secretaries in the Ministry and unless Finance Minister P Chidambaram springs a surprise, Bose will be the first among equals. Budget 2014 after all is not an issue at all!.
Miffed Cop Protests
Uttar Pradesh has always been a difficult karmabhoomi for upright bureaucrats, as the episode involving IAS officer Durga Shakti Nagpal showed recently. Nothing has changed on the ground even though widespread public protests forced the political establishment to revoke Ms Nagpal’s suspension. Now another woman officer Manzil Saini, who was controversially moved out as Senior Superintendent of Police from Muzzafarnagar even as the town was engulfed in communal violence, has created ripples. The Akhilesh Yadav sarkar has denied Ms Saini’s request to be sent to the Centre on deputation. She had been interested in working for the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI). But sources say that Principal Secretary for Home, Anil Kumar Gupta, has not considered Ms Saini’s request. The miffed IPS officer has now sought five months’ leave in protest. Incidentally, she was earlier in the news for busting a high-profile kidney sale racket. Clearly, we will hear more from her in the days ahead.
Perhaps the babus in the Chandigarh Administration are more paranoid than their counterparts elsewhere in the country. They want to be safe in the event of a nuclear or chemical attack on the city and are concerned enough to have proposed building an underground “safehouse” to house top administration officials in the event of an emergency. Apparently UT Home Secretary Anil Kumar has held several rounds of discussions based on memos sent by former Inspector General of Police P. K. Srivastava and estimated that the project would cost around Rs. 40 crores! The proposed n-shelter will, sources say, house 10-12 VVIPs, have conference facility and all the necessities for running an administration during a nuclear attack. No doubt, babus in other metros must be burning with jealousy for not having thought of this one first. But no doubt, it’s the kind of idea that will catch on soon!