EVERY month, approximately 15 to 20 civil servants superannuate but Ashok Lavasa knows how to make it memorable. Lavasa, a 1980-batch IAS officer of the Haryana cadre and former Secretary, Finance, superannuated on October 31, 2017. The soft-spoken officer had a wonderful spotless career and is known to be a passionate photographer (his photos have been published in gfiles). Lavasa sent an SMS to all his friends and well-wishers the day after superannuation. The SMS read as follows: “In life there’s always a time to ‘move on’. In government that time comes when it asks you to ‘stop’. That stop at sixty happened on 31st October 2017, which brought to close an innings that lasted 37 years and 46 days. The ‘first phase’ of life ended on 15th September 1980, when I joined the Indian Administrative Service and the ‘second phase’ when I superannuated as Finance Secretary of the country. In between there was Environment & Forest, Civil Aviation, Power, Home, Economic Affairs at the Centre and Industries, Tourism, Public Relations at the State. 21 years in the state of Haryana and 16 in GOI. Now for the ‘third phase’, the yet-to-be determined future that may be shaped by the evident and not-so-evident past. What continues, however, is the association one has formed with men and matters. It matters to me; hope it matters to you as well. I will continue to retain the same mobile number (as it is personal), the same residential address for 6 months (as it is the government’s), not the same official position but the same disposition. I do not wish to thank you for your support as I want it to continue, but I do feel grateful for your good wishes that brought me thus far. I hope to remain in touch.” His Twitter profile @AshokLavasa changed a bit but shows enthusiasm and spirit, “Traveller, Sportsperson, Author, Music lover, ex-Administrator, & still alive”. gfiles wishes him good luck.
The Union Public Service Commission (UPSC), the nodal agency which recruits officers and conducts the civil services exams, doesn’t have a single IAS officer on its administrative board. The UPSC is currently headed by Prof David R. Syiemlieh, an academician. It has eight members on its board. Except for IPS officer, Bhim Sain Bassi, former Police Commissioner, and Indian Foreign Service officer, Sujata Mehta, all members are out of the domain of civil services. It’s a body of postal officers, engineers and educators. Vinay Mittal is an IRTS officer. Arvind Saxena, an engineer by education, is an IPoS officer of the 1978 batch. Prof (Dr) Pradeep Kumar Joshi, an educator, served as Chairman, Chhattisgarh Public Service Commission, and also Chairman, Madhya Pradesh Public Service Commission. Air Marshal Ajit Shankarrao Bhonsle (retd), is a defence professional. Dr Manoj Soni is an educator and former Vice Chancellor of Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar Open University. One thus wonders why there is no IAS officer in the core body which recruits IAS, IPS, and IFS and other civil servants. Sources disclosed that former Chairman Deepak Gupta reportedly created a hullabaloo on the issue of status of UPSC chairman and its members–all were equal in the status holding cabinet rank status. It is reported that Deepak Gupta, former Secretary, Ministry of New and Renewable Energy, who allegedly got the coveted post through the recommendation of a Gujarati solar panel contractor, did not like the idea of being equal among equals. So, a request was made that only the Chairman UPSC should hold Cabinet Secretary status and privileges with other members being at par with Secretary rank. Naturally, the IAS fraternity do not want to join the bandwagon even after retiring as Secretary to work under a non-civil services officer.
It’s surprising that in the election year, Karnataka government has assigned the job to administer the state to two top-ranking women civil servants-Chief Secretary K Ratnaprabha and Director General of Police Neelamani N Raju. K Ratnaprabha is a 1981-batch IAS officer of the Karnataka cadre and will retire on March 31, 2018. She is the third woman chief secretary of Karnataka after Teresa Bhattacharya (2000) and Malathi Das (2006). She worked as deputy commissioner in Raichur and Bidar, apart from serving in departments such as commerce and industry, communication and transport. Ratnaprabha, originally belonging to Andhra Pradesh, did her graduation in physics and chemistry before shifting her stream and completing post-graduation in two subjects, English and Sociology. A month ago, 1983-batch Indian Police Service officer Neelamani N Raju took over as DGP in the state. Raju, who belongs to Roorkee in Uttarakhand, became the state’s first woman director general and inspector general of police on October 31, breaking a glass ceiling in the state police. She is a 1983 batch IPS officer and wife of former IAS officer Narasimha Raju. She had a long career in Intelligence Bureau where she moved up to the post of additional director. She was the recipient of the President Police Medal for Distinguished Service in 2009. This 57-year-old officer will be at the helm till January end, 2020.
WHEN one hears the chant ‘sabziwala’, a picture of a cart fully loaded with vegetables appears in mind along with a man who is usually dressed in kurta-pajamas. But the chant has taken on a new avatar, online. Pravesh Sharma, a 1982-batch IAS officer of the Madhya Pradesh cadre, now resigned from IAS, has begun a start-up named ‘Sabziwala’, a retail fruits and vegetables chain that promises delivery of quality fresh produce directly sourced from farmers to consumers. He would have been a Secretary in the Government of India (he served as a director in the Prime Minister’s office at the time of Atal Bihari Vajpayee) had he not resigned. At the end of his bureaucratic career he chose to change tracks. Sharma believes he supplies quality produce at prices that are a tad less than those of Safal, Mother Dairy’s market leading brand in the Delhi region. A student of history from Delhi University, Sharma brings 18 years of experience in agriculture, including as agriculture secretary of Madhya Pradesh and India representative of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD). His last major stint was as Managing Director for five years of the Small Farmers’ Agri-business Consortium (SFAC), which encourages farmers to set up producer companies with guidance and grants. Sabziwala began commercial trials in June in Delhi’s sub-city of Dwarka. “I wanted to create an enterprise around agriculture to demonstrate it can be a viable, inclusive, sustainable and scalable. I chose fruits and vegetables because this is the most fragmented value chain,” says Sharma. His is an asset-light model. Sabziwala owns very little. Everything-warehouses, trucks, labour-are leased or contracted. Sharma has changed the dynamic for the superannuated ‘babus’; if you have a passion for your job, don’t look for post-retirement government jobs, but learn from Sharma how to create a brand and add value to society.
DELHI Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal is caught between BJP-led Central Government and various court cases. The people had high hopes from Kejriwal but he has become persona non grata in political circles within two years. The Congress is not ready to touch him. He has made the Delhi assembly a mud-slinging platform against his opponents. Instead of speaking from public platforms, he calls a ‘one-day session’ of the Delhi assembly where he and his MLAs rant against his opponents. Delhiites have never seen such a government. What’s more, he and his election managers toured Gujarat extensively before the assembly elections even though the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) contested only on 11 assembly seats. Further, many AAP senior leaders are reportedly baffled about the initiatives of nominating prominent personalities for Rajya Sabha next year. Insiders claim Kejriwal can’t tolerate the rise of any AAP leader. Sources disclosed that Kejriwal’s sudden behavioural change is reportedly due to pressure from the RSS and BJP. It’s well known in political circles that Kejriwal is reportedly sympathetic to the RSS and can’t defy the bosses of RSS.