Dilip Cherian | Spirit of sharing tech, tips among states overrides partisan politics

The dashboard monitoring system was started in 2019 when Vijay Rupani was the chief minister

Kerala chief secretary V.P. Joy’s recent visit to Gandhinagar to study the dashboard system for e-governance in Gujarat is full of portent for good governance if picked up by other states.

The dashboard monitoring system was started in 2019 when Vijay Rupani was the chief minister. Apparently, Mr Joy was impressed with it and said it was good for monitoring the delivery of services and collecting citizens’ feedback. It is evident that Mr Joy’s visit had the support of the Left Democratic Front (LDF) government of Kerala, even though Opposition parties in the state read “politics” in the visit. But clearly, the Pinarayi Vijayan government believes that adopting e-technology for good governance transcends partisan politics.

Sources have informed DKB that the decision to study the “Gujarat model” was taken after a recent meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Mr Vijayan in the capital. After returning to Kerala, the chief minister directed Mr Joy to study the system.

Interestingly, a similar “experiment” by Punjab chief minister Bhagwant Mann when he sent a team of state IAS officers to the Delhi government “for training” has been criticised by Opposition parties and some sections of the public for being against the interests of the state. Mr Mann was accused of being “remote-controlled” by the AAP government led by Arvind Kejriwal. Yet, politics apart, this new “trend” shows that state governments are now willing to overlook partisan politics and seek expertise from wherever it is available.

Shah Faesal blames it on idealism

After resigning from the civil service in 2019, Kashmiri IAS officer Shah Faesal is back in babudom and now blames his misplaced idealism for his action. Sources have informed DKB that the Centre has accepted Mr Faesal’s application for withdrawing his resignation and reinstated him in service early last month.

Mr Faesal was the first Kashmiri to top the civil services exam and served in the state in various capacities including in the education and power development departments. He had resigned in protest after the Centre repealed J&K’s special status.

After a failed attempt at forming a political party, the Jammu & Kashmir People’s Movement, Mr Faesal had tried to go to the United States but was detained at Delhi airport and sent back to Srinagar and placed under detention, which was revoked four months later. For some time, he had been dropping hints of his return to bureaucracy. The home ministry and the department of personnel and training (DopT) accepted his plea and reinstated him. His new posting will be announced soon.

Interestingly, another IAS officer Kannan Gopinathan, from Kerala, too, had resigned from service to protest against the abrogation of Article 370. He has become an activist.

Not quite an interim woman

The uncertainty has finally ended. Following the superannuation of J.B. Mohapatra, the Centre has appointed Sangeeta Singh as interim chairperson of the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) for three months or until the appointment of a regular chairperson. It is widely accepted that she will be “regularised” after some time. There had been intense speculation in Delhi’s babu corridors on whether the government would retain Mr Mohapatra or let him retire. In the end, it let him go.

Sangeeta Singh was one of the two women members of CBDT eligible for Mr Mohapatra’s job, the other being Pragya Sahay Saksena, member, legislation and systems. Before her elevation, Ms Singh was member, audit and judicial.

Even in the run-up to the appointment, many believed that Ms Singh had a slight edge over her rival for having held two additional charges. Moreover, she is in the good books of the powers that be. The new chairperson has also edged out two other senior CBDT members Anuja Sarangi and Nitin Gupta, on the way to the coveted post.

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