he appointment of three IAS officers to the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) will add heft to the already most-powerful PMO. The officers are Raghuraj Rajendran of the Madhya Pradesh cadre as director, Amrapali Kata of the Andhra Pradesh cadre as deputy secretary and Mangesh Ghildiyal of the Uttarakhand cadre as under-secretary.
Rajendran was earlier serving as private secretary to the Minister of Steel and Petroleum and Natural Gas Dharmendra Pradhan. Amrapali Kata is an officer of the 2010 batch and was deputy secretary in the Cabinet Secretariat (Intelligence). Ghildiyal was working with the Uttarakhand government.
The appointments make these three officers seem like “high-fliers” in babudom. They have clearly been chosen for their better track-record. In the presidential-style Modi PMO, they are now expected to be team players who must focus on tough decisions and be showing results.
Anti-corruption drive in UP
Though public perception belies it, the Uttar Pradesh government claims it has a zero-tolerance policy towards corruption. And the government backs this up with data. According to sources, since coming to power three years ago, Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath has cracked the whip on around 800 state government officials. Just recently, the state government suspended two IPS officers, Abhishek Dikshit, SSP of Prayagraj, and Manilal Patidar, SP of Mahoba, for their involvement in corrupt practices and “lax policing”.
The state data claims it has acted against more than 775 officials so far, including some retired officials who were found complicit in malpractices. The government has forcibly retired 325 officials and suspended and demoted over 450 babus.
But, sources say, despite the Yogi government’s crackdown on corrupt babus, some suspended officers seem to have wiggled back into the administration on plum postings. JB Singh, the Gonda DM, was suspended in June 2018, along with Kumar Prashant, the DM of Fatehpur, and faced disciplinary action over irregularities in the procurement of wheat. But Singh’s bureaucratic wilderness was short-lived.
In 2019 he was appointed the DM of Etawah. Kumar Prashant, too, found himself back in favour. Last year, he became the DM of Badaun, a more important district than Fatehpur. There are other instances, say sources, where after a brief period of lying low, suspended officials find themselves back in the saddle.
Railways: Reform or decay?
The Modi sarkar is pushing ahead with plans for restructuring the Indian Railways and services. The Cabinet recently green-lit the revamping of the powerful Railway Board. The board will now have five members. The present chairman of the board, VK Yadav, will be the first CEO of the board. The board will also have independent members in non-executive roles. The Cabinet also decided to merge all central railway service cadres into a single Indian Railways Management Service (IRMS)
While Yadav is now chairman and CEO, Pradeep Kumar has been appointed member, Infrastructure, PC Sharma as member, Traction and Rolling Stock, and PS Mishra as member, Operations and Business Development. Manjula Rangarajan has been appointed as member, Finance.
In the new structure, the chairman shall be the cadre controlling officer responsible for Human Resources (HR) with assistance from a Director General level officer. Three apex-level posts shall be surrendered from the Railway Board, and all the remaining posts of the board shall be open to all officers regardless of the service to which they belonged.
The government says that the reform will end “inter-departmental rivalries” that many say have been hampering growth and efficiency of the railways for decades. But not all railway babus are pleased with the decision. Their first objection is to the proposed merger of cadres, which they claim is “unscientific and against established norms.”
The government, they say, is proposing to merge “fundamentally dissimilar” entities. Instead, they argue for two distinct services instead of one – separating the civil services and the engineering wings.According to sources, murmurs of protest are rising, and railway unions are planning a series of protests against the move.
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