The plaguing negativism in Indian bureaucracy

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The plaguing negativism in Indian bureaucracy Is India developing on the pretext of being a conformist nation denying to break through the established standards of conduct?Are we a nation which is dreaded of taking bold decisions? At least this is what is visible if we look at the current state of affairs as far as the bureaucracy is concerned.The aftermath of this phenomenon may not be strikingly visible today but it will have its effects on the surface after two years from now. Public sector Chairmen and Managing Directors seem to be vary of taking bold decisions on important business deals thus hampering the growth of their undertakings and lack a go-getters attitude which is necessary for all the PSUs to take that leap to expand their business offshore. Bureaucrats are dithering to move files with key financial implications
and are dreading a future quandary which may put their career growth at stake. The caution continues with ministers as well. It is true that those guilty of jumping the formidable line for personal gains should be taken to task but it is equally unfair to paint every bureaucrat with the same brush. The result of which is that hardly any bureaucrat is audacious enough to resolve the stalemate in any of the key matters. Suhel Seth in his column rightly points out, “It is not about the deed. It is always about the intent.” Even the self-proclaimed crusaders against corruption are not untouched by controversies over their personal gains. Kiran Bedi has been rightly pointed out as one such example by many in the media and governance.

However, the negativism among fellow bureaucrats is something that the newly appointed Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister, Pulok Chatterji, has to deal with. While former Cabinet Secretary KM Chandrasekhar was known for his fire-brand capability of taking decisions under tight circumstances, it is to be seen how his successor, AK Seth,manages the billet and the task of encouraging bureaucrats to emerge from the current hysteria. In this context, we should note a contrast in Karnataka where former Chief Minister Yeddyurappa was saving his face by protecting some of his shady Cabinet Ministers but a bureaucrat was dutifully obeying the Supreme Court orders of a ban on mining activity in Bellary. Deputy Commissioner Amlan Aditya Biswas, IAS, seized trucks carrying 9,000 metric tonnes of iron ore to the “(in)famous” Reddy brothers’ corporation. Even when the people in power were trying to bamboozle his tenure in Bellary Biswas’s courage made the apex court put a ban on his transfer or posting to another district. Meet this month’s Bureaucrat of the month for his courage and dutifulness, a trait every young bureaucrat must take a cue from.

DK Mehrotra to be next Chairman, LIC

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A high level panel headed by Finance Secretary RS Gujral is understood to have zeroed in on acting chairman DK Mehrotra to head the country’s largest insurer Life Insurance Corporation.

The panel interviewed 5 candidates including Mehrotra for the post of regular Chairman.

Besides Mehrotra, Sushobhan Sarkar, executive director, international operations, D Vijayalakshmi, executive director, investment, Thangam Matthew, executive director, underwriting and reinsurance and D D Singh, zonal manager, south, appeared in the interview, sources said.

Department of Personnel & Training (DoPT) Secretary Alka Sirohi, Financial Services Secretary DK Mittal, IRDA Chairman J Hari Narayan, among others, were part of the panel, Bureaucracy Today sources said.

Suhaib Ilyasi

Chidambaram to decide on Armed Forces Special Powers Act

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Army chief General Vijay Kumar Singh has said that the Army has given its opinion on rollback of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) in Kashmir and now it’s for the Home Ministry to decide.

“See this is within the purview of the Ministry of the Home Affairs. They are debating this. We have given our inputs. I would not like to say anything more than that,” he said when he was asked about his views on the AFSPA debate.

Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah on Wednesday reached out to the Army over the revocation of the controversial AFSPA. The Chief Minister said that the proposed withdrawal of the Armed Forces special Power Act from certain areas of the state was in no way an effort to undermine the role of the Army.

The Chief Minister had, just last week, announced at a police function that the AFSPA would be removed from some areas in Jammu and Kashmir.

Air India Limited is looking for its next Chief Operating Officer (COO)

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The Air India Limited is looking for its next Chief Operating Officer (COO) and the Public Enterprises Selection Board is inviting applications seeking qualified for the same.

The last date for the receipt of applications in November 21, 2011.
– Suhaib Ilyasi

PV Deshmukh, has been appointed as acting Chairman, HAL

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PV Deshmukh, HAL’s senior-most director (MiG Complex), has been appointed as acting Chairman, HAL. The Ministry of Defence letter appointing Deshmukh as the interim chief was issued on October 14, just three days after HAL’s marketing head Sqn Ldr (Retd) Baldev Singh committed suicide.

Deshmukh, currently looking after the Sukhoi (Su-30 MKI) production and upgradation projects at HAL’s Nashik Division, will hold the post for three months from November 1 to January 31.

Pawan Hans chief R K Tyagi has already been nominated by the Public Enterprises Selection Board (PESB) eligible to become HAL’s 16th chairman.

The interim arrangements are made as Tyagi has to get a complete ‘go-ahead’ from the MoD, Intelligence Bureau, Central Vigilance Commission and Cabinet Committee on Appointments. “The verification process takes at least three months,” PESB sources said.

SK Srivastava is appointed next CMD, Oil India

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SK Srivastava who is presently head of upstream oil regulatory authority, DGH, has been appointed to be the next Chairman and Managing Director, Oil India Limited.

Srivastava’s name will now be forwarded to the Cabinet Committee on Appointments (ACC) for approval. ACC, that comprises Prime Minister, Home Minister and the administrative minister, would give its consent only after receiving no objections from various agencies, including anti-graft body, the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC).

Srivastava, 56, was Director (Operations) at OIL before he became DG, DGH in February 2010. He beat B N Talukdar, Director (Exploration & Development), OIL, for the top job.

Oil Ministry had appointed Srivastava as the temporary head of DGH to replace controversial V K Sibal, in October 2009. He was formally appointed DG, DGH in February 2010.

He will serve his term till June 2015 as OIL Chairman and Managing Director.

SP Singh, IAS on CBI radar

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A CBI team on October 17 questioned senior IAS officer SP Singh at his Prashasan Nagar residence in connection with the Emaar scam.

The premier investigating agency believes that Singh, while he was the principal secretary, Municipal Administration and Urban Development, reportedly gave certain exemptions to Emaar group, allegedly at the behest of his political bosses.

Singh, presently principal secretary, Roads and Buildings, is understood to have told the CBI team that there was no wrongdoing on his part and he even showed some photocopies of various decisions taken during his tenure in MAUD.

‘’We have questioned him and if required, we will question him again,’’ sources said adding that he was also asked about the plush villa his wife owns in Emaar-Boulder Hills township

Shiwani Bhatnagar murder case

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We have been saying it for long that it is not RK sharma but a very powerful politician of a national party who is involved in the murder of Indian Express reporter, Shivani Bhatnagar.
If they want to know who is the real killer of Bhatnagar and wish to establish evidence against him, they should do a DNA check on Shivani’s child. They will get the name. IMW did an exclusive story/episode on the subject matter and paid a price too. No regrets though!

War on the waves: IIS vs IAS

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A demotivated and disheartened manpower can bring the mightiest of the organizations down. Similar is the case with the organizations manned by Indian Information Service (IIS) officers. In spite of being inducted by the UPSC the credence given to this particular civil service cadre is hardly visible. The issues such as stagnation of IIS officers and inattentive cadre management by the Ministry have led to high attrition rates. It seems the Government of India is sleeping over the sweeping changes taking place in the media world.

It was at least a decade ago when the Expenditure Reforms Commission, constituted in 2000, had shown red flags to most of the media units under the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting. The Commission, chaired by former Finance Secretary KP Geethakrishnan, categorically suggested either closure or disinvestment of most of the media units. We are at loss to understand why did not the Commission put its finger on the real cause of the poor state of affairs in government managed media organizations i.e. the low morale of IIS officers. The commission should have recommended reforms rather than suggesting their closure or disinvestment Even when Bureaucracy Today was talking to IIS officers on the issue, members of another service under the controlling authority of I & B Ministry, Indian Broadcasting Service, echoed the same sentiments which, to our utter shock, are even worse than those of IIS officers who have been waiting for promotion for 28 years. Since 1964 the IIS has seen only three cadre reviews. It seems the Ministry is having hard time managing cadres under it. The non-performance of media unit can be attributed to an extent to the discouraging prospects that IIS officers face during their career which gets translated into overlapping of functions. Whether Government communication schemes reach the target audience is debatable.

Can the Ministry explain to the nation the rationale behind IAS preference for post of DG, Doordarshan? An IAS officer is indeed a great administrator but not necessarily trained to understand and execute the finer nuances of programming and broadcasting. I am told by an officer in Doordarshan that most of the time, IAS bosses fail to take a call on crucial issues pending on their table. By the time an IAS officer gets trained to handle peculiar issues of broadcasting he is sent out to do other great things in the Government. This is exactly the reason of poor performance of Doordarshan, he revealed. The damage is visible. When the world is waiting for India to make its presence feel in world organizations, the Indian Government is still grappling with fixing problems in its communication network and with its human resource. Former Principal DG S Narendra puts vital questions on the issue to Bureaucracy Today: “Can an IIS cadre review incorporate the philosophy of PSC as an inclusive growth instrument? Can it win support for retaining and strengthening the government media system, not as a despised publicity outfit but as a people’s instrument for greater access to PSC and participatory communication befitting a great democracy? India is lucky to have an effective Government media system; save it for people’s sake, not for saving the IIS alone. Let not a cadre review retain irrelevant units. Once retained they must restate their mission for enforcing accountability and embrace state-of-the-art media and communication technologies and practices.”

Are the stakeholders listening?

Suhaib Ilyasi

Mosque demolition and democracy of India

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Delhi Development Authoriy (DDA) demolished a mosque in Jangpura recently a question crossed my mind. Are we finally a matured democracy? Are we a mature democracy? India as a nation has come a long way since independence. It has seen a lot of ups and downs. The fabric of democracy is strained the most when any thought of violent solution gets followers.  Ayodhya issue always tested the firmness of the foundation of this country. Often debate around this issue turned from blood curdling to blood spilling.

This year saw a historic judgement on Babri Masjid demolition case. The Indian judiciary gave a verdict which avoided extremes, an amicable solution that was wished by moderates of both communities. What followed was a fierce debate on all public platforms. Both parties said, as always, they respect constitution and judicial system of the country. As a democratic nation we tend to discuss almost all issues, but often solution of sensitive issues such as this are sought on streets. We have seen public debates turning acrimonious from parliament to TV studios and at times bloody. Every such transformation deals a blow to the foundation of democracy. The debate around Ayodhya verdict showed unprecedented maturity – everyone could hear passionate arguments for and against it – as no solution was sought on streets.

Long live Indian democracy!

I, Suhaib Ilyasi welcome your comments on the above.

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