FOUR former bureaucrats—two IAS, one IFS and one IPS—were made ministers at the Centre giving a clear signal that Prime Minister Narendra Modi banks more on former bureaucrats than political leaders when it comes to performance. It’s not that simple; all the top former civil servants had the right connections. Here’s how the dice rolled in their favour. Whereas former Kerala cadre IAS officer KJ Alphons was given independent charge of the ministry of tourism, former IFS officer Hardeep Singh Puri will now handle urban affairs, independently. Also, former Home Secretary Raj Kumar Singh will handle two ministries—power and the ministry of new and renewable energy; and ex-Mumbai police commissioner Satyapal Singh has been made the MoS in two ministries—HRD and water resources, river development and Ganga rejuvenation. A 1979 batch former IAS officer, KJ Alphons joined the BJP in 2011. A former Indian Foreign Service (IFS) officer of the 1974 batch, Puri is the chairman of New Delhi-based think tank—Research and Information System for Developing Countries (RIS). As an IFS officer, he rose to the rank of Ambassador and Permanent Representative of United Nations. He briefly taught in St. Stephens College before joining the Foreign Service. Sources disclosed that both civil servants were appointed with the recommendation of National Security Advisor Ajit Doval. A former Bihar cadre IAS officer of the 1975 batch, RK Singh became union home secretary before joining politics and winning the 2014 Lok Sabha poll from Arrah in Bihar on a BJP ticket. Rajiv Pratap Rudy and RK Singh are close to Home Minister Rajnath Singh. When Rudy was removed in a reshuffle, RK Singh was brought in to balance the Rajnath faction within the cabinet. A former IPS officer of the 1980 batch who rose to become Mumbai’s police commissioner, Satyapal Singh is BJP’s Lok Sabha MP from Baghpat, Uttar Pradesh. Satyapal Singh was brought in mainly to calm down the Jats of western UP and make inroads into the fiefdom of prominent Jat leader Ajit Singh. According to the grapevine, a top industrialist house of Mumbai recommended his name for the ministerial berth.
PRIME Minister Narendra Modi is passionate about implementing his dreams. He is the first Prime Minister who is interacting with top ranking Secretaries, Additional Secretaries and Joint Secretaries. He makes the effort to explain his dreams to the civil servants. All wings of the government must work in harmony, Modi said while interacting with 70 additional secretaries and joint secretaries in his office recently, emphasising how the officers need to take a lead in breaking the silos in the government. This was the first of five such interactions being planned with senior bureaucracy in the government. Modi emphasised in the meeting that the combination of development and good governance is essential for the welfare and satisfaction of citizens. Good governance should be a priority for the officers. All wings of the government need to work in harmony, and in synchronisation, to achieve the best possible results. All officers must keep the poor and the ordinary citizens in their minds while taking decisions. The world is looking to India, he reminded, with positive expectations. The entire world feels that a successful India is vital for global balance. There is also a strong undercurrent for excellence from the common citizens of India. Youth from humble backgrounds, with very limited resources are achieving best positions in competitive exams and sports. The officers need to work to promote that spontaneous upsurge of talent, recalling the spirit and energy that they themselves would have possessed in the first three years of their service. This is a unique opportunity for officers to deliver their utmost for the benefit of the nation. There is a need for speed and efficiency in decision-making. Honest decision-making with good intentions would always be encouraged by the Union government. The officers need to focus attention on the 100 most backward districts of India, he said. All good, however, some Additional Secretaries who attended the meeting were miffed as they have little or no work with the ministries being run mainly by Secretaries and Joint Secretaries.
THE stars are shining for N Baijendra Kumar, 1985 batch IAS officer of the Chhattisgarh cadre. An order dated July 21 had appointed 1988 batch IAS officer of the Himachal Pradesh cadre Ali Raza Rizvi as CEO of the National Mineral Development Corporation (NMDC), a government-run company that comes under the union ministry of steel. Rizvi changed his mind and the job was assigned to N. Baijendra Kumar, who had been serving as additional chief secretary in the state. NMDC is considered a prized catch. Baijendra Kumar, who hails from Kerala, was allotted the Madhya Pradesh cadre after being selected to the IAS in 1985. Once the state got divided in 2001, he was allotted the Chhattisgarh cadre. Kumar was the additional chief secretary to Chhattisgarh chief minister Raman Singh in 2014-16, apart from handling departments such as commerce and industry, and energy. Between 2001 and 2004, he was the deputy director in New Delhi’s All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) before joining as a director in the union ministry of health. In 2006-07, he was a joint secretary in the ministry of information and broadcasting. For a brief period, he also served as the principal resident commissioner in New Delhi’s Chhattisgarh Bhavan. In undivided Madhya Pradesh, Kumar served as the SDO of Dabra (Gwalior), additional collector of Jabalpur and collector of Balaghat and Sagar. The 57-year-old officer will retire on July 31, 2020. It is to be seen how Kumar takes NMDC, which has a market cap of Rs. 42,554 crore and a share price of Rs. 134, to new heights.
THE Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) is learnt to be going full steam ahead with its plan to transform the civil services. There was news last month, reportedly leaked to PTI, that a new policy for cadre allocation has been finalised by the Central government for IAS, IPS and other officers, aimed at ensuring “national integration” in the country’s top civil services. The story elaborated that the services are being distributed among five zones. Officers of all-India services—the Indian Administrative Service (IAS), Indian Police Service (IPS) and Indian Forest Service (IFoS)—will have to choose cadres from a set of five zones instead of 26 states. The officers of the three services are currently allocated a cadre state or a set of states to work in. “This policy will ensure national integration of the bureaucracy as officers will get a chance to work in a state which is not their place of domicile,” the official said. He said the new policy would help in upholding the rationale behind the all-India services. “All-India service officers are supposed to have varied experiences which can be earned when they work in a different state, which is new to them. The officers may not be able to experiment new things if they work in their own domicile state,” the leaked policy stated. Under the new policy, candidates appearing for the civil services examination will have to first give their choices in a descending order of preference from among the various zones. Thereafter the candidates will indicate cadres in order of preference from each zone. “If a candidate does not give any preference for any of the zones/cadres, it will be presumed that he has no specific preference for those zones/cadres,” it said. Candidates will be allotted their home cadre on the basis of merit, preference and vacancy in the category, according to the yet-to-be announced policy. Senior superannuated officials commented that nothing is official and new in the policy: It’s like a slogan in the name of reform.
THE last reshuffle of the cabinet by the Prime Minister was supposed to be an elaborate one but the BJP leadership had to reconcile with five new inductions. Narendra Modi is known for his firm decisions but the tremor within cabinet members forced him to move ahead with a small expansion. Sources disclosed that the BJP leadership wanted to remove firebrand sadhavi Uma Bharati, the Minister for Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation. The situation became so fraught that Uma Bharati was asked to resign by the top leadership to pave the way for new incumbents but this infuriated the former Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh. Party insiders reveal that Uma Bharati categorically refused to resign and asked the top leaders to inform the Prime Minister to dismiss her from the ministership. Finally, Nitin Gadkari consoled her and advised Modi to ward off further drama queen by just shifting her from the present ministry to Drinking Water and Sanitation. Uma’s anger could be felt when she said while taking charge of the Drinking water and Sanitation Ministry, “No one can separate me from Ganga. Ganga is still with me… If I had failed how can Gadkari get this portfolio because I had worked in close coordination and close consultations with him (Gadkari) on Namami Gange project.”