Dilip Cherian | Babu exit saga shows cracks in Centre-UP ties

Deccan Chronicle.  | Dilip Cherian

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This one went down to the wire. Until the last moment, no one was sure whether UP’s additional chief secretary (home) Awanish Kumar Awasthi would get an extension or be allowed to superannuate. The radio silence on the issue from both the Yogi Adityanath camp and the Centre ensured that rumours kept swirling. Finally, Mr Awasthi was allowed to retire, and senior IAS officer Sanjay Prasad has been given additional charge of the state home department. Also, as a corollary to the ongoing churn and perhaps as an attempt to “tame” the babus, the Yogi government has transferred 16 senior IAS officers, including controversial additional chief secretary (health) Amit Mohan Prasad.

While often discussed in quiet conversations, the Awasthi episode has once again brought the uneasy Centre-UP government equation to the fore. Most observers would have expected Mr Awasthi, who was known as a confidante of chief minister Adityanath, to stay on, but it seems the Centre did not process his file and kept it pending until it was too late.

The UP-Centre cracks in the woodwork are now clearly revealing signs of strain. The normally subterranean tussle between the two power centres has resurfaced. And no surprise, it has hit the babudoms that both Yogi and the Centre need and use. Whether it is an internecine war confined to UP is unknown, but the Awasthi saga bears the telltale signs of a border skirmish. We await further developments on this front.

Karmayogi Bharat: Ramadorai an exceptional choice

The Modi Sarkar is hoping that private sector talent will help create a competent civil service with the aim of effective and efficient public service delivery. For that noble end, former Tata Consultancy Services vice-chairman S. Ramadorai is being brought in to chair the Karmayogi Bharat, the government programme for capacity building in the civil services. In other words, the government wants to mould babus into karmayogis, rooted in the Indian ethos.

Karmayogi Bharat owns, manages and maintains the digital platform iGOT Karmayogi on behalf of the government for the implementation of the Mission Karmayogi.

In Ramadorai the Modi Sarkar has made an exceptional choice to head this programme. Building institutions is what the formidable ex-Tata honcho knows best among his other qualities. Further, he has an inside view of government, having been the adviser to former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in the National Council on Skill Development, holding the rank equivalent of a Cabinet minister. His expertise in economics, leadership and governance could prove useful provided babus are open to imbibing the wisdom of a “non-babu”!

Sansad TV CEO goes, but may move to Prasar Bharati

Sansad TV CEO Ravi Capoor has been relieved of his duties at the end of his tenure, which surprised many observers. It was widely assumed that as in the case of Rajya Sabha secretary general P.C. Mody whose term was recently extended, Mr Capoor too may get an extension. Utpal Kumar Singh, who is secretary general of the Lok Sabha has been asked to manage Sansad TV as an additional responsibility.

But the final word on Mr Capoor’s career is yet to be written, say some. Apparently, the buzz is that he is likely to be named as the next CEO of Prasar Bharati, which has functioning under an ad hoc arrangement since the tenure of its CEO Shashi Shekhar Vempati ended two months ago. And if rumours of a proposed merger of Sansad TV and Doordarshan under the Prasar Bharati have any substance, it would give Mr Capoor a good chance to head the public broadcaster.

Mr Capoor, a retired IAS officer, was appointed CEO of Sansad TV in March last year after the decision to merge Lok Sabha TV and Rajya Sabha TV.

Of course, nothing is certain about the course the government will eventually adopt, but it may be premature to write off Mr Capoor from the list of potential candidates. His hat is still in the ring.

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