The Appointments Committee of the Cabinet has approved the appointment of Vijay Keshav Gokhale, 1981-batch Indian Foreign Service, Secretary (economic relations) in the Ministry of External Affairs, as the new Foreign Secretary in place of Dr S Jaishankar on the first day of 2018. Gokhale, India’s Ambassador to China, had played a key role in defusing the 73-day-long Doklam crisis. Gokhale, an expert on China affairs, was brought in as India’s top diplomat, in South Block keeping in mind the diplomatic sensitivities. Significantly, it has now become almost a pattern that an ex-Indian envoy to China has a better chance to grab the coveted post of foreign secretary. Shivshankar Menon and Nirupama Rao, both during the UPA time and S Jaishankar of the NDA regime, happened to be India’s Ambassador to China and someone with a deep understanding of India-China diplomatic intricacies. Gokhale is four years junior to the current Foreign Secretary, S Jaishankar. Gokhale joined the Indian Foreign Service in 1981 and Jaishankar joined in 1977. Jaishankar was appointed as the Foreign Secretary in January 2015, initially for two years, and then, his tenure was extended for one more year till January 28, 2018. Prior to joining the Foreign Services, Gokhale completed his Master’s degree in History from Delhi University. Gokhale has represented India in Germany as well as in Malaysia. He was the High Commissioner of India to Malaysia from January 2010 to October 2013, and Ambassador of India to the Federal Republic of Germany from October 2013 to January 2016. Thereafter, Gokhale took charge as India’s Ambassador to the People’s Republic of China from January 2016 to October 2017. Though India-China relations are likely to top Gokhale’s agenda during the year 2018, other issues concerning India-US bilateral and those arising out of Pakistan may prominently future in Gokhale’s list of priorities.
There is some good news for youngsters aspiring to appear for the civil services examination. Dr Dalip Singh, an IAS officer of the 1982-batch of the Haryana cadre, has started an exclusive channel on Youtube to update their skills and knowledge about ethics, integrity and emotional intelligence in administration and governance. Post retirement, Dr Singh is occupying a constitutional post as State Election Commissioner in Haryana. He has taken the responsibility of assisting the young minds about ethics in governance. The Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) has, of late, taken keen interest in judging the aptitude and attitude of young aspirants for civil services on issues like ethics, integrity, emotional intelligence, social and moral values, corruption, code of conduct, transparency and accountability, to name a few. There is a paper of 250 marks in the main examination to prove that the applicants will uphold the integrity and accountability of government if they clear the exam. However, the questions being asked for the last 2-3 years are vague, conflicting and childish. Dr Singh is interviewing civil servants who know the art of tactfully navigating troubled waters and want to share their rich experiences with budding bureaucrats. He will be asking uncomfortable questions to senior civil servants from IAS, IFS, IPS, IRS, Railways and other distinguished services. Some examples are: What is the role and consequences of ethics in good governance? Whether ethics is inherited or learned? In what way can the lives and teachings of administrators, reformers, and leaders help young people to embrace human values? Do you think empathy and compassion towards weaker sections of the society is on the decline and that the young generation lacks the attitude to appreciate their problems? Do you agree that corruption in administration has been a big issue over the years? Policy systems have been designed in such a way that corruption cannot be avoided. How do you think situation can be improved? Let us help Dr Singh achieve this noble objective by subscribing to Dr Dalip Singh IAS CHANNEL on Youtube.
Circumstances may change at any time. The action one takes at a time on duty may sound good but it may boomerang. It has happened with Hari Om, a 1997-batch IAS officer, was Gorakhpur DM in 2007, when Yogi – then MP – was arrested for allegedly instigating communal unrest and defying prohibitory orders. As time passed and politics turned, Yogi Aditya Nath became Chief Minister of UP. Hari Om is now feeling the heat as Yogi has never forgotten that day. He is at present serving at an insignificant post of secretary, general administration. But the culmination of circumstances has not dampened the spirit of Hari Om. The erstwhile topper in Hindi medium in his batch has launched a music video, ‘Ro chuke jinke liye rona tha’ in Lucknow. The lyrics for the music video, however, have been written by retired UP cadre IAS officer Anis Ansari. On the eve of the video release, Hari Om said, “Having been born and raised in Uttar Pradesh, I have always loved the Hindi language and honed my skills. I am content that I can put it to constructive use which people of this country can relate to.” The music video is part of album called Rang Ka Dariya. Hari Om said that he has always loved expressing his creative abilities and is only ‘fulfilling them’ through this album. He avoids queries on being sidelined and instead says, “I do my riyaz early morning for at least an hour with a harmonium before reading the morning newspapers and heading off to office.”
There is considerable unease for all those retired civil servants who are still serving in the central and state governments as Principal Secretary or Officer on Special Duty after the Punjab and Haryana High Court’s quashing of the appointment of retired IAS officer Suresh Kumar as Chief Principal Secretary to Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh. The judgement has become a point of discussion in IAS fraternity. It’s reported that the High Court quashed Kumar’s appointment on the grounds of delegation of more powers and not following proper procedure on his appointment. When Amarinder Singh appointed Kumar, the High Court set aside the appointment and said the retired IAS officer was holding public office without any authority of law. The court said his being entrusted important functions after having ceased to be a public servant was inexplicable. It also wanted to know how such an appointee could be held accountable for his decisions. There are different schools of thought, which opined that there would be no responsibility and accountability if any retired IAS officer committed a mistake and the government had no powers in taking disciplinary action. This was applicable to all re-employed retired IAS officers. There are about 15 retired IAS officers appointed at various positions in Telengana and Andhra Pradesh alone. Captain Amarinder Singh has directed the State Advocate General to examine the High Court judgement and suggest further legal remedies. How things will unfold is yet to be seen as even the Prime Minister’s Office has a well-established tradition of over two decades of appointing retired civil servants as Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister. TKA Nair, who served with Dr. Manmohan Singh as Principal Secretary to Prime Minister, was a retired IAS officer of the 1963-batch of the Punjab cadre. The current Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister, Nirpendra Mishra, is also a retired IAS officer of the 1967-batch of the Uttar Pradesh cadre. Similarly, the Gujarat and Kerala governments have also appointed retired IAS officers as Chief Principal Secretaries to the Chief Minister-K Kailashnathan and Nalini Netto, respectively.
THE top-ranking leadership of the RSS, the de facto control centre of the BJP-led NDA Government, is in introspection mode as it analyses what it has achieved for India. There are many areas where the RSS feels helpless but circumstances are as such that the leadership can’t do much. There is general election in 2019 and before that many states assembly elections are going to be held in 2018. There have been reports that RSS may reshuffle its top-ranking leadership but due to the uncertain political climate, they are rethinking this strategy. Sources disclosed that Suresh Rao Joshi alias Bhaiyaji Joshi may relinquish his post and a new General Secretary (Sirkaryavahak) maybe appointed. The RSS hierarchy has one General Secretary and four Joint Secretaries. Out of these four Joint Secretaries, one can be appointed as General Secretary, which is a very important post in the RSS. The General Secretary allocates the work among RSS office bearers. Suresh ‘Bhaiyaji’ Joshi was elected as General Secretary in 2015 for three years. His term is ending in March 2018. It is known that House of RSS representatives (Akhil Bharatiya Pratinidhi Sabha) will meet in March where elections will be held. Suresh Soni, Krishna Gopal, Dattatreya Hosabale and V Bhaigaih assist Bhaiyaji Joshi. As per sources, RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat is in favour of Bhaiyaji Joshi continuing at this juncture. If Joshi continues as General Secretary, then all the Joint Secretaries will also continue. Bhaiyaji Joshi reportedly has very cordial working relations with both Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah.