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  Opinion   Columnists  31 May 2023  Dilip Cherian | Lingering void in Doha since placement of envoy in PMO

Dilip Cherian | Lingering void in Doha since placement of envoy in PMO

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Published : Jun 1, 2023, 12:50 am IST
Updated : Jun 1, 2023, 12:50 am IST

The absence of an Indian ambassador in Doha is not merely a bureaucratic matter.

Vipul, Joint Secretary, Gulf region. (Photo: Facebook)
 Vipul, Joint Secretary, Gulf region. (Photo: Facebook)

For nearly two months, the position of Indian ambassador in Doha has remained unoccupied, leaving a big void in the diplomatic representation of India in Qatar. After the previous ambassador Deepak Mittal returned to India and joined the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), the appointment of his successor has been eagerly awaited. While speculation points to Vipul, the joint secretary (gulf), as a likely replacement, no formal announcement has been made by the ministry of external affairs (MEA) yet.

However, the absence of an Indian ambassador in Doha is not merely a bureaucratic matter. It has real and significant consequences for the individuals directly affected by it. Specifically, the families of eight naval veterans who have been held in solitary confinement in Doha since August last year are feeling an overwhelming sense of helplessness. The lack of an Indian ambassador has made it difficult for them to access information about the wellbeing and legal status of their loved ones.

With charges already framed and the trial underway against these veterans under Qatari law, their families are increasingly anxious about their situation. Without a designated point of contact, they find themselves lacking a go-to person who can provide them with clarity and guidance regarding the path ahead.

In this time of uncertainty, the MEA needs to recognise the urgency of the matter and promptly appoint a competent and capable ambassador to Doha. The presence of a dedicated ambassador will not only provide a channel of communication for the families of the detained veterans but also enable effective engagement with Qatari authorities to ensure fair treatment and due process for the accused individuals.

Women dominate UPSC civil service exams

A seismic shift is occurring within the realm of Indian bureaucracy. There is a change in the air. The recent UPSC Civil Services exam results have unveiled a groundbreaking development — the top four positions have been claimed by women. Ishita Kishore secured the first rank, followed by Garima Lohia, Uma Harathi and Smriti Mishra. Among the top 25 successful candidates, 14 are women, marking the second consecutive year in which women have dominated the highest ranks.

This transformative trend underscores the remarkable progress made by women in civil services, with their representation increasing significantly over time. The ascent of women has been an arduous journey. Women have overcome formidable challenges, from Anna George Malhotra, the first woman to join the IAS in 1951 to the current wave of trailblazing candidates. The remarkable statistics speak for themselves, as over one-third of the 933 recommended candidates this year are women, a substantial increase compared to the mere 20 per cent from two decades ago.

By securing leadership positions in the civil services, these accomplished young women bring with them fresh perspectives, empathy and a nuanced understanding of the diverse challenges that governance entails. This surge in women’s presence signifies a major shift in the traditionally male-dominated bureaucratic landscape. Their contributions will likely pave the way for a more inclusive and comprehensive governance framework.

A boozy conundrum

In a move that could spare police personnel of the Prohibition Enforcement Wing (PEW) of Tamil Nadu Police from unexpected dance-offs, the Director General of Police (DGP) C. Sylendra Babu has sent a memo to police personnel to resist the temptation of being deployed on any other duties. The directive has been communicated to all commissioners and superintendents of police across the state.

The PEW officers have apparently been pulled in every other direction, assigned tasks that have absolutely nothing to do with their original purpose.  Sources have informed DKB that PEW unit officers have been caught in bandobast duties and whatnot, and sometimes compelled to undertake additional work instead of trying to combat the sale of bootleg booze in Tamil Nadu.

The DGP has come to their rescue and instructed the PEW department to focus on their real task and the real troublemakers, of which there are quite a few, we learn.

It turns out that there have been some truly unfortunate incidents involving illicit liquor. Villupuram and Chengalpattu districts have experienced a series of tragedies, with 24 persons meeting their demise from consuming methanol-laced hooch. Most recently, there was a case in the Thanjavur district, where forensic analysis revealed that two deaths believed to be due to alcohol poisoning, were caused by the ingestion of alcohol laced with cyanide. In the spirit of sobriety and safety, it is hoped that the DGP’s directive brings much-needed focus to the PEW officers towards their primary duty.

Tags: dilip cherian, doha, pmo