Nehru And Other Tales
Recently, the past came on a rather rare visit to Udyog Bhavan. Retired IAS officer Mani Narayanswamy, or Mani, as this columnist once knew him, returned to his old office and room at the Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) for an interactive session with Indian Trade Service (ITS) officers. In the early 1980s Mani was Chief Controller of Imports and Exports (before the post lost its immense power and corporate clout and became a more benign storehouse of wisdom and was renamed DGFT). He had occupied the room which, he was proud to inform his audience, was once used by Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru whenever he visited Udyog Bhavan to attend meetings of the Planning Commission.
Clearly, this was not just historical trivia, but an attempt by an old hand to encourage and motivate those who work in the directorate with a sense of its noble history. Among his audience was the erudite current DGFT Anup K. Pujari, who joined the IAS in the year Mani occupied the “special” room! Pujari should now be the envy of his IAS biradari, since few will actually get to squat, in a Prime Minister’s former chambers.
Babu Opts Out
Babus joining politics is not something new; in fact, the Election Commission has recommended a “cooling off” period for babus, which is still being debated. However, in Mamata Banerjee’s West Bengal several retired bureaucrats entered politics in parliamentary and assembly elections. Recently Ms Banerjee has given her assent to an IAS officer to join politics. Eyebrows were raised only because she had last year denied a similar request from an IPS officer P. Ravi, claiming that there was a shortage of IAS and IPS officers in the State. J Sundara Sekhar, however, seems to be in Didi’s good books and after her go-ahead on his request for voluntary retirement,
is all set to contest assembly elections in his home
State Andhra Pradesh next year. At present he is Secretary and CEO of the West Bengal Human Rights Commission and many officers are reportedly already vying for his position.
Never Too Late!
In the age of email and instant communications, how long do you suppose it should take for the Department of Personnel & Training (DoPT) to issue a notification? Seven years! That’s how long it took DoPT to issue a notification regarding a 1994-batch IAS officer who overstayed in Uttarakhand in 2006. The babu in question is R.C. Joshi of the Assam-Meghalaya cadre but was posted to Uttarakhand but overstayed his deputation by seven years because DoPT did not act on time.
Sources say that last week a letter signed by personnel undersecretary S.S. Shukla was sent to the Chief Secretaries of Assam, Uttarakhand and the Accountant Generals of both the States respectively noting that Joshi’s overstay has been regularised. Why it took the DoPT seven years to do so, however, remains a mystery.