Dilip Cherian | No room now for laggards in Delhi govt

Update: 2022-07-13 18:20 GMT
With India betting on young workers to drive growth in one of the world's fastest-expanding economies, the latest numbers are an ominous harbinger. (Bloomberg)

Taking its cue from the Centre’s order on premature retirement, the finance department of the Delhi government has ordered all department heads to conduct periodical reviews of account cadre officers, especially those nearing retirement and who have been found to be performing below par. Sources have informed DKB that the aim is to identify such babus and retire them from service.

All, including Delhi lieutenant governor Vinai Kumar Saxena, are reportedly on board with the plan. In fact, sources say, Mr Saxena has taken a serious note of the issue and is keen on the government conducting periodical reviews of all officers working in the Delhi government. He apparently wants this undertaken on a priority basis to weed out the laggards and stragglers who are holding up the system.

The finance department’s order directs all heads of departments to submit reports of account cadre officers, deputy controller of accounts, senior accountants, account officers and assistant accountant officers who are covered under the DoPT’s premature retirement rules. A review committee will study the reports and recommend appropriate action.

However, there are no reports yet of how the babus who are likely to be affected by this decision have reacted. Will they resist the move? Watch this space for updates.

G-20 role is Kant’s tallest challenge

India’s G-20 team just got more powerful with Amitabh Kant, former CEO of Niti Aayog, named as its new Sherpa. He replaces Union minister Piyush Goyal, who has stepped down citing “work overload”. Mr Kant’s new assignment came as a surprise to many, even though no one expected him to simply fade away into the sunset after his six years as the CEO of Niti Aayog. A gubernatorial stint was hinted at, but the government clearly had a better plan for Mr Kant!

Still, it was a timely move, coming just as India is set to assume the presidency of the G-20 later this year, and is prepping to host the G-20 meet next year. Mr Kant now joins former foreign secretary Harsh Shringla, who is India’s chief G20 coordinator. Given the high stakes, Mr Kant was a shoo-in since India needs a full-time Sherpa for G20 since Mr Goyal has his plate full, with his various ministerial and parliamentary responsibilities.

As a long-time policy maven of the NDA government, and later at the Niti Aayog, this is Mr Kant’s moment to shine on the international stage. The combo of IAS (Kant) and IFS (Shringla) will be useful at the strategic forum during discussions on efforts to aid global recovery. As the Sherpa, Mr Kant will need to devote a lot of time to numerous meetings that will be held in different parts of the country and abroad. So, Mr Kant’s best moment may be yet to come.

High-speed rail MD terminated

In a sudden move, the Centre has terminated the services of Satish Agnihotri, the MD of National High-Speed Rail Corporation Limited, and gave the additional charge of MD to Rajendra Prasad, the present director, projects, of the corporation. The company is implementing the NDA government’s prestigious bullet train project.

However, those in the know of the development have informed DKB that Mr Agnihotri was under a cloud. Though the government has not given any reason for Mr Agnihotri’s termination, it is believed that due to serious allegations of corruption against the rail babu, his position as MD had become untenable.

Curiously, his appointment as MD of the corporation was as dramatic as his ouster now. In 2018, Mr Agnihotri, an Indian Railway Service (IRS) officer of the 1982 batch, was brought back from retirement to head NHSRCL by the government. At the time it was said that Mr Agnihotri did not fit the advertised age criteria for the post, yet he was appointed over other eligible candidates.

The fall has certainly been swift. But the bullet train project is a prestige project for the Modi Sarkar and it should have been obvious that it will not brook any criticism on account of those who were charged with its successful completion.


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