The list of 11 new joint secretaries appointed recently only deepen this viewpoint.
This is one of the most eagerly awaited appointments in government. After coming under fire from the Supreme Court for appointing Gujarat Indian Police Service officer Rakesh Asthana as acting chief of the Central Bureau of Investigation, the government is moving quickly on naming a regular chief. Curiously, the scheduled meeting of the collegium on the issue did not take place this week.
Early this month, the Narendra Modi government had appointed Mr Asthana as acting CBI chief despite shortlisting several candidates for the post, triggering controversy as the Gujarat-cadre IPS officer did not have the requisite seniority for the job.
Given the profile of the position there are many contenders. Among the several names doing the rounds are Delhi police commissioner, Alok Verma, director-general of the Sashastra Seema Bal, Archana Ramasundram, director-general of the bureau of police research and development, Dr M.C. Borwankar, ITBP director-general Krishna Chaudhary, Union home ministry special secretary R.K. Dutta and Maharashtra DGP Satish Mathur. Despite the impressive claims of the contenders, it is Prime Minister Narendra Modi who will obviously have the final say, while keeping within the earlier framed parameters.
IAS losing turf
The “heaven-born” continue to lose turf in the Modi sarkar. In recent months, several key appointments in Central government ministries and departments clearly indicate that the government prefers to appoint officers from other services in posts held by IAS cadres. The list of 11 new joint secretaries appointed recently only deepen this viewpoint.
Out of the 11 appointees only four are from the IAS, two each are from Central Secretariat Service (CSS) and Indian Forest Service (IFoS), and one each from IRS-IT, Indian Ordnance Factory Service (IOFS) and Indian Defence Accounts Service (IDAS). In four of these postings, officers belonging to IRS-IT, IFoS, IOFS and IDAS, have replaced IAS officers. For example, Satyendra Kumar Mishra, a 1990 batch IRS-IT officer, has been appointed as joint secretary in the ministry of civil aviation for a period of five years in place of Anil Srivastava, a 1985 batch Madhya Pradesh cadre IAS.
But there is yet another bit of news that should trouble the IAS babus. It appears that even in the empanelment of 1986 batch IAS officers. There is a feeling that about 18 empanelled officers of this batch to the rank of additional secretary will retire before 2020. Out of the remaining 15 officers, only 10 will be able to make it as secretary, GoI. Is this a broader indication that perhaps the government believes that many officers don’t have the necessary qualification to meet its expectations? If true, that should be a real worry.
While the naming of the new Army Chief has set off an unexpected storm, the appointment of senior IPS officer Rajiv Jain as the new chief of the Intelligence Bureau (IB) and Anil Dhasmana as the head of the Research and Analysis (R&AW) has been a calm affair. This is also perhaps a testimony to the sterling track records both individuals have. While Mr Jain, a 1980-batch IPS officer, is serving as special director in the bureau that he will now head, Mr Dhasmana was special secretary in the Cabinet Secretariat. They replace Rajinder Khanna and Dineshwar Sharma respectively who’ve also had successful stints.
Sources say that Mr Jain is well known to Prime Minister Narendra Modi as he was posted in Ahmedabad from 2005 to 2008 when Mr Modi was chief minister of the state. Curiously, Mr Dhasmana, a 1981-batch IPS officer from Madhya Pradesh, was reportedly approached twice for the top police post in the state but he politely declined perhaps because his keen interests went beyond policing. Now he is the nation’s top spook.