When Kerala Governor P. Sathasivam visited Delhi recently, he was surprised to learn that the state’s resident commissioner Gyanesh Kumar was not present at the airport to receive him, nor was his deputy Bishwanath Sinha, as per protocol. Sources say that Mr Sathasivam, who was visiting Delhi for the first time after being appointed Governor, was rather miffed at being received by a protocol officer and a liaison officer instead of the senior-most babu of the state.
While it is not clear whether the babu had an explanation for his absence to soothe the ruffled gubernatorial feathers, observers recall another incident when the state’s director-general of prosecution, T. Asaf Ali, was denied lunch at Kerala House because of an order from the resident commissioner stating that only house guests were entitled to be served meals in Kerala House. After a few phone calls, it appears that the babu did finally manage to have his meal! Let’s wait for the Governor’s next trip before passing judgement.
During the Manmohan Singh era it was the famed Kerala Club, with top positions in the Prime Minister’s Office and top ministries headed by babus from the southern state. In Modi sarkar it is mainly officers from Gujarat manning the PMO. But it does appear that a “Rajasthan Club” is now in the making, with former chief secretary Rajiv Mehrishi taking charge as secretary of economic affairs at the finance ministry.
According to sources, nine IAS officers from Rajasthan cadre are holding secretary-level positions in Modi sarkar. Other senior babus from Rajasthan serving at the Centre are Arvind Mayaram who made way for Mr Mehrishi and moved to the tourism department, Ashish Bahuguna, agriculture secretary, Sangita Gairola in the defence ministry and Sudhir Bhargava and Lalit K. Panwar in the ministry of social justice and ministry of minority affairs respectively. It does seem to be advantage Rajasthan, for now.
Senior bureaucrats who do long and extended stints in foreign postings will no longer be able to do so. Narendra Modi has instructed the PMO to draft a new policy that will restrict babus beyond 55 years of age from foreign postings. The age issue was raised when Modi sarkar announced a cut-off age for joining the Union Cabinet. The new policy, sources say, is the result of an application from a senior babu who has been posted abroad for over 10 years seeking an extension.
Apparently, one sore point with the government is that many babus do not return to India after their stint and settle in the country they have served. IAS officer Namita Datta never returned from her World Bank assignment in Washington, nor did senior babus like Atul Bagai, Rahul Anand and L.V. Nilesh. This proposed policy, Modi sarkar hopes, will curb this trend....