A sarkari house in Delhi, as any government babu will tell you, is all about availability and location
The instances of bureaucrats getting caught in the middle of political battles are a growing and dynamic list. Those in the know say that after the Centre recently amended the empanelment policy for IAS officers, young officers fear that their careers will be jeopardised if there is no political consensus between the Centre and the concerned state government.
Under the revised policy, the Centre has made the Central deputation of two years mandatory for IAS officers before they complete the first 16 years of service in their cadre state to be eligible for joint secretary’s post in Delhi in the future. This would not be a problem if the Centre and state were ruled by the same party. The problem arises, as in the case of West Bengal, when there are ruled by bitter political foes. The babus are caught in a bind. Whether this is an inevitable feature of federalism isn’t clear yet, but babu nervousness isn’t something that helps with better administration in these perilous times.
Home and the world
It’s not just the Vice-President and the Prime Minister who are getting new residences in Lutyens’ Delhi. Though not included in the Central Vista project underway in the heart of the capital, officials, or at least some lucky ones, at the ministry of external affairs too may get spanking new residences by 2023.
The ministry is building 97 state-of-the-art residences in the Gole Market area, known these days mostly for its nondescript and low-cost sarkari housing, into a high-powered diplomatic enclave replete with the modern bells and whistles that matches the lifestyle the IFS mandarins are accustomed to when serving abroad.
Perhaps the residential project is a belated move by the Modi sarkar to signal that it does not ignore the Indian Foreign Service. While in recent years other services have gained ground eroding the exclusivity enjoyed for decades by the IAS club, the IFS is too is now getting its share. A sarkari house in Delhi, as any government babu will tell you, is all about availability and location. The IFS seems to have scored a diplomatic victory on both.
An avoidable fracas
Even as Karnataka grapples with the Covid pandemic, two women IAS officers have stirred up an avoidable controversy, given the current circumstances.
Shilpa Nag, the Mysuru corporation commissioner, reportedly resigned from the IAS after accusing her senior, Rohini Sundari Dasari, deputy commissioner of the district, of interfering in her efforts to manage the pandemic. The state government has indicated that Ms Nag’s resignation has not been accepted nor will it be. But sources say that Ms Nag has gathered several voices in her support, with other city corporators demanding that Ms Dasari be transferred out. Ms Dasari has denied the allegation and said that she had merely asked Ms Nag to explain the “contradictory data” on Covid from her ward.
It is believed that the root of the dispute between the two senior IAS officers is Ms Dasari’s insistence on the deployment of CSR funds for the entire district rather than limiting the funds for managing Covid in the city area only.
Meanwhile, to allow tempers to cool down, the state government has transferred both officers. Ms Dasari will be the new commissioner of Hindu religious and charitable endowments, while Ms Nag has been named director of e-governance in rural development and panchayati raj department. Sources say that the fracas was wholly avoidable and the disputed issue could have been dealt with within the government without a fuss.
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