he more notable among reforms brought by the Modi sarkar since 2014 are evident in the way the government functions. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s preference for bureaucrats over netas in running the government is well-known. He has also pushed through many policies to improve governance and reform the bureaucracy. However, the government seems to be shirking from (Or, has it just missed out?) on taking steps to remove caste and gender imbalance in the bureaucracy.
Parliament was recently informed that out of 82 secretaries to the government, a mere four are from Scheduled Castes or Scheduled Tribes. They are posted in the Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities, Department of Land Resources, Department of Pharmaceuticals and the Ministry of Labour and Employment.
Similarly, the number of women appointed as secretaries in the government is just 12 out of 82. While a few, such as Health Secretary Preeti Sudan and Secretary (East) Vijay Thakur Singh hold important portfolios, most others are posted in such departments and ministries as fisheries, official languages, disability or youth affairs. The recent ouster of School Education Secretary Rina Ray from the human resource development ministry is still fresh in the minds of women babus. Sources also say that out of the 700 officials working as joint secretaries at the Centre, only 134 are women.
However, this is to be tackled sensitively rather than merely statistically.
NE cops in the capital
The Northeast has been marked out for special attention by the Modi sarkar. There is an emphasis on infrastructure development to improve connectivity and efforts to create employment opportunities. But this pro-Northeast “tilt” is apparently not reflected within the capital’s bureaucracy.
Though at least 10 senior UT cadre IPS officers are at present serving in Delhi Police, they are usually on assignments such as training, VIP Security or Delhi Armed Police, which are considerably lower down in the pecking order. In Delhi Police, posting in Crime, law and order, economic offences wing, licensing and traffic are considered more “prestigious”, but, sources say, few officers from the North-East are given postings in these departments. To cite some examples, PN Khirmey, a 2004 batch UT cadre officer, is DIG of Delhi Armed Police; Michi Paku, also from the same batch, is DIG, Police Training College; and Apurva Bithin is DIG, Training.
Observers say the government should look at the issue even if only from the point of view of perception management, to give due importance to the North-East babus, and also to buttress the credentials of its “Act East” policy.
Trouble in Gujarat
It appears all is not well in Gujarat, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s home state, despite being run by BJP Chief Minister Vijay Rupani. Certainly, the situation there it seems merits sending Modi’s trusted bureaucrat Anil Mukim back to the state as its new chief secretary.
That was the reaction of most observers at Modi’s sudden move. Mukim’s appointment has also nixed the chances of Arvind Agarwal, the senior-most babu in Gujarat, who was the frontrunner to succeed JN Singh for the top post in the state.
The buzz is that Agarwal was close to Chief Minister Rupani, who had recommended his name to the Prime Minister’s Office, citing his seniority and efficiency. But clearly, that did not cut much ice with the PMO. Sources say that by snubbing Rupani’s choice for chief secretary, the PMO has shown that it is not happy with how Gujarat is being handled. There is talk of a “Rajkot coterie” (read Rupani and his favoured babus) pulling the strings in the state, which seems to have irked the PMO.
Mukim is obviously meant to set “things” right, in a manner acceptable to the PMO. But this clearly has become a space that is worth watching.
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