Perhaps service rules stopped them from airing their views but after retirement bureaucrats are not bound anymore and can voice their thoughts freely. This has led to the formation of pro-and anti-government groups among retired babus who jump into the fray at the behest of their conscience (or political leaning).
In the most recent instance, the “love jihad” law legislated by the Yogi Adityanath government in Uttar Pradesh has triggered a “letter war” between former bureaucrats, those who criticise the law and those who have rallied behind the state government. The ranks of the ex-babus have been joined by retired Army officers, members of the judiciary and others.
Earlier, a group of 104 retired bureaucrats wrote to Yogi Adityanath, expressing “deep disapproval” and concern at the use of the “love jihad” law. Noted signatories included retired bureaucrats like former NSA Shiv Shankar Menon, former chief of R&AW A.S. Dulat, former Chief Information Commissioner Wajahat Habibullah, former principal secretary in PMO, T.K.A. Nair and former Union health secretary K. Sujatha Rao among other notables.
Now, a Forum of Concerned Citizens, comprising of over 250 retired officers has written to the chief minister endorsing the ‘Uttar Pradesh Prohibition of Unlawful Conversion of Religion Ordinance 2020’ and the motive behind it. In their letter, the group of former babus and ex-Army officers said that the legislation rightly provides that marriages done for sole purpose of unlawful conversion can be declared unlawful by family courts. They termed the letter by anti-love jihad babus a “politically motivated pressure group” and said that they don’t represent thousands of civil servants who believe in New India emerging as the greatest democracies of the world.
One may be tempted to believe that this is an instance of political battles being fought by proxy!
More than a year after the Centre abrogated Jammu & Kashmir’s special status under Article 370 and bifurcated the state into Union territories, the J&K cadre of IAS, IPS and IFoS has been merged with the Arunachal Pradesh, Goa, Mizoram and Union Territory (AGMUT) cadre. This allows officers posted in these states and UTs to work in J&K and vice-versa.
Necessary modifications may be made in the corresponding cadre allocation rules by the Centre. The notification issued by the government states that officers allocated to AGMUT cadre shall function following the rules framed by the Centre.
Observers see in the move a message of total integration of J&K with the Centre. It also solves the Centre’s problem of the reluctance of J&K cadre officers to serve in Ladakh, as it now creates a larger pool of UT cadre officers. Ladakh, they say, suffers from a paucity of officers. Due to its harsh climate, officers are reluctant to serve there. But with the Chinese threat looming, the Centre wishes to focus on Ladakh’s development. So, clearly, it is as much a political move as an administrative one.
Mamata’s big promotion push in Bengal
Political or administrative compulsion? West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee has promoted 31 IAS officers as secretary and additional secretary in one big push to bolster the state government’s administration ahead of the Assembly elections.
With the BJP making a determined effort to breach her stronghold, the Trinamul leader is taking steps to strengthen the administrative machinery, which has come under fire from various quarters. Among the 19 officers promoted as secretaries are additional secretaries Smita Pandey, Vijay Bharti, Shubhanjan Das, Samir Kumar Bhattacharya, C.C. Guha, Rajat Bose, Kaushik Halder, N.C. Sarar and T.K. Rudra.
The new additional secretaries include V. Lalithalakshmi, Sourav Pahari, Mukta Arya, Devi Prasad Karanam, Shakeel Ahmed, Uttam Patra, Santanu Saha, Nirmalya Ghosh, Anindya Narayan Biswas and Dipankar Chowdhury.
But this is early in the poll campaigning and chances of further changes in the state administration cannot be ruled out as the CM seeks to stave off the BJP’s onslaught to dislodge her party from power.