Dilip Cherian | More IAS babus for Uttarakhand, but not enough

Last week, CM Dhami got a partial wish-fulfilment when the Centre agreed to increase the state’s IAS cadre strength from 120 to 126 officers

The Uttarakhand government has been struggling to work with only 76 IAS officers in the state, even though it has an allocated cadre strength of 120 IAS officers. Of them, seven are on Central deputation. They include Ashish Joshi, Sridhar Babu Addanki, Jyoti Yadav, Raghav Langar, Mangesh Ghildiyal, and Amit Singh Negi.

Last week, state chief minister Pushkar Singh Dhami got a partial wish-fulfilment when the Centre agreed to increase the state’s IAS cadre strength from 120 to 126 officers. Partial, because the state government had been demanding the IAS cadre be increased to 139, which the Centre has firmly rejected. It has its own mounting problem of a shortage of officers.

Uttarakhand’s plight is shared by several other states. But sources have told DKB that the current babu deficit is of the state’s own making. The All India Services cadre structure is reviewed every 10 years. The last time it was done was in 2010, when the state had the opportunity to ask for an increase in the cadre posts from 120, but it chose not to. Now it is feeling the pinch. And even the six new cadre posts will not make much difference on the ground.

Haryana IAS officers feel left out in UT Admin
The Haryana government has long claimed that it is getting a raw deal from the Chandigarh administration with UT cadre IAS officers cornering the key posts at the expense of Haryana cadre officers. The issue has reportedly been raised on several occasions, including by the state’s Additional chief secretary Rajeev Arora, with the UT administrator and Punjab governor Banwari Lal Purohit.

Now Haryana chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar has escalated the issue by writing a letter to Mr Purohit expressing “unhappiness” at the “uneven distribution of departments to Haryana cadre IAS and IPS officers” in the UT.

Those in the know have informed DKB that Mr Khattar has claimed undue dominance of UT cadre officers, whether from the IAS or DANICS cadres, in the administration at the cost of officers from Haryana and Punjab. Apparently, most of the important posts have been grabbed by officers from the UT cadre. Further, Mr Khattar has claimed that the repatriation of two HCS officers earlier in February has made matters worse. He has also pointed out that the posts of UT home secretary and deputy commissioner, held by IAS officers deputed by Haryana, have had their powers and responsibilities reduced drastically.
Mr Khattar has also pointed out that in the recent reshuffle of IPS officers, the SSP (traffic) Manisha Choudhary, a Haryana cadre IPS officer, was divested of the charge of security, which was given to an AGMUT cadre officer.

The list of Haryana’s grievances is long, and Mr Khattar is now hoping that the UT Administrator is open to discussing the issue at the earliest.

Babu gets a dressing down for ‘wrong’ attire in court
Unlike IPS or defence personnel who are expected to appear in uniform while on duty, there is no “official” dress code for IAS officers, though during training they are urged to dress “appropriately”.

Leaving the issue open-ended and vague has sometimes landed babus in trouble. Most recently, the Patna high court pulled up Bihar IAS officer Anand Kishor, who is chairman of the state School Examination Board and principal secretary for housing and urban development.

Kishor appeared for a court hearing wearing a crisp formal white shirt with trousers. So, what was wrong with the attire? The babu had not buttoned his collar and was not wearing a coat.

However, not everyone agrees with the judge, including some from the legal fraternity as well. While some said that the judge’s remarks were unwarranted and caused “unnecessary humiliation and anger”, others insist that any government official must be correctly dressed in court for dignity and decorum. If so, perhaps it is time to codify how government officials are to appear in public.

Is it a feudal vestige or a progressive mindset? Reader, you decide.

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