uring the height of the COVID-19 wave last year, the Gujarat government deployed top IAS and IPS officers who held a degree in medicine to tackle the pandemic in the worst-affected areas. The move to use officers with administrative as well as medical skills worked well for the state given the emergency-like situation.
However, a proposal by the Madhya Pradesh government to appoint IAS officers to run 13 medical colleges in the state has not been welcomed by the doctors. While senior babus of the Health Department have dismissed such reports, the state Medical Education Minister Vishwas Sarang has been cautious while saying that the proposal is being studied and a decision will be taken only after careful consideration.
The death of four infants in a fire at a Bhopal hospital recently has focused attention on the state hospital administration. Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan has been pressed into ordering a fire safety audit of all government and private hospitals in the state. Additional Chief Secretary for Health and Education Mohammad Suleiman is conducting a high-level probe and the report will be submitted to Chief Secretary Iqbal Singh Bains soon.
However, the medical community fears that such appointments will not improve the conditions of medical colleges in the state but rather make matters worse.
Sanjiv Chaturvedi wins his day in court
Embattled Uttarakhand whistleblower Sanjiv Chaturvedi, who is a 2002-batch Indian Forest Service (IFoS) officer, currently posted as the Chief Conservator of Forests in Haldwani, has won a skirmish in his larger battle with the Centre after the Uttarakhand High Court overruled the order of the Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) in December last year.
Last year Chaturvedi, who is a Magsaysay Award recipient and crusader against corruption, had filed a petition in the Nainital bench of CAT alleging that the lateral recruitment of joint secretary-level posts through the contract system was “arbitrary, irrational and ridden with irregularities” and needed to be probed. He also challenged the 360-degree system for the appraisal of babus. The tribunal however transferred the hearing of the petition from the Nainital Bench to the principal bench in Delhi. The High Court has said it saw no reason for the case to be transferred since all benches are equal and it cannot be suggested that the principal bench in Delhi is a superior bench.
Much of Chaturvedi’s career has been spent in courts or battles with various state governments and the Centre. He was a whistleblower in the forestry case in Haryana and later in the capital when he was the Chief Vigilance Officer of AIIMS where he exposed several financial scams. Currently, he is probing the alleged role of forest officers in illegal construction and felling of trees in the Jim Corbett Tiger Reserve. He has now won his day in court, but his battles will continue.
MEA gets busy with new postings
Foreign policy wonks see in the recent major reshuffle of diplomatic postings as a precursor to the retirement of Foreign Secretary Harsh Shringla early next year. At this early stage, it is not clear whether Shringla who has worked long and fruitfully with External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar will retire or be given an extension. Such decisions are usually known only close to the D-Day. In terms of seniority though, the current High Commissioner to the UK, Gaitri Issar Kumar is in line to step up. But, these days nothing can be taken for granted, as Jaishankar himself knows too well. The current round of postings is focused on the Middle East region. Pavan Kapoor who is ambassador to the UAE will now be our ambassador to Russia. Kapoor has been replaced by Sanjay Sudhir, who was the High Commissioner in the Maldives. Our man in Oman Munnu Mahawar replaces him. Meanwhile, Dinesh Patnaik, who was director-general of the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) is the new ambassador to Spain and Secretary Consular Passports and Visas Sanjay Bhattacharya is likely to become our envoy to Switzerland. There will likely be more churning at the MEA in the weeks and months ahead, so watch this space for updates.
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