hile senior bureaucrats often get re-employed with the government after they retire, it is certainly rare for a retired babu to be reappointed as secretary to the government, to the same post he retired from two years earlier. But the Modi sarkar has many firsts (and in this instance, seconds) to its credit.
So, there were some puzzled faces when former bureaucrat Raghvendra Singh was recently appointed as culture secretary, replacing Anand Kumar, who was shifted as secretary of the National Commission for Backward Classes, as part of a high-level reshuffle. Singh, who belongs to the 1983-batch of the West Bengal cadre, is CEO of the Development of Museums and Cultural Spaces, under the Ministry of Culture, and will continue to hold that post. Singh has been appointed on a contract basis for a year. Interestingly, Singh was the Culture Secretary from December 12017 till August 2018. So, the new Culture Secretary is the old Culture Secretary!
Before Singh’s (re)appointment, there was Parameswaran Iyer, who returned as secretary, Drinking Water and Sanitation, in 2016 on contract although he had resigned from the IAS in 2010 to join the UN and then the World Bank. Interestingly, he did not complete his term, but resigned last month for “personal reasons”.
Divided in uniform
If Delhi Police was feeling cornered and unloved after several retired top cops criticised its investigation of the riots in northeast Delhi in February this year, it has now found support in 26 retired IPS officers who have come out in defence of their Delhi brethren.
The Delhi Police Commissioner SN Shrivastava was left scrambling for allies when the widely respected retired IPS officer Julio Ribeiro, a former Mumbai police commissioner and former DGP of Gujarat and Punjab, and former envoy to Romania, questioned the Delhi Police’s handling of the probe into the riot cases. He accused the Delhi cops of taking action against “peaceful protesters” while ignoring the actual perpetrators of the riots and also noted that Shrivastava was not addressing the issues that he had raised in his letter to the Delhi Police Commissioner.
Ribeiro’s broadside found resonance in many minds who see the police investigation as vilification of peaceful protesters and a politically motivated campaign. But it has also brought the venerated top cop in the line of fire of those who see this as an attempt to “demoralize the Indian Police Service”. However, Ribeiro’s detractors come across as attempting a rearguard action that will do little to change the public perception about Delhi Police. And by pitting cop against cop, the force in khaki is split right down the middle.
‘Hurt’ IRS officials
Last month, the Modi sarkar announced reforms in the taxation system with the aim of making the system seamless, painless and faceless. The faceless assessment scheme will eliminate human interface between the taxpayer and the tax officials and has been largely welcomed by all. But not every IT babu is happy with the development.
According to sources, the IRS Association of the Northeast region views the decision as one that will reduce the stature of the service. The association members have reportedly proposed a complete makeover of the IRS including cadre restructuring, a new transfer and deputation policy, and creation of cadre posts in other ministries and departments. Apparently, the resentment among the IRS officers is due to their belief that faceless taxation will reduce the service to “cyber policing”.
Under faceless assessment, AI and data analytics-based systems will be used to identify taxpayers and send notices in a transparent manner. This will inevitably require a change in how IT officials will function. The
NE-IRS officers are perhaps jittery about this change from the “normal”.
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