Opinion Columnists 30 Dec 2020 Govt's lateral ...
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Govt's lateral entry move fails as babus protect turf

Published Dec 31, 2020, 4:43 am IST
Updated Dec 31, 2020, 4:43 am IST
Until 2014, the chairmanship of the National Dairy Development Board (NDDB) was held by dairy professionals
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Earlier this year, Arvind Panagariya, former vice-chief of the government Niti Aayog, wrote in his book, India Unlimited – Reclaiming the Lost Glory — that Indian babus suffered from the socialist hangover, which has slowed down the pace of reforms the Modi sarkar wishes to introduce (Dilli Ka Babu, April 16. 2020). To buttress his view, he claimed that the government’s attempts to privatise several PSUs remained stalled for long despite Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s push to get Cabinet approval for the list of PSUs drawn up by the Niti Aayog. He also cited Modi’s initiative for lateral entry at the top levels of the bureaucracy. According to Mr Panagariya, babus slowed down the process to the extent that at the very end of his term only nine officers could be inducted from outside.

His prophecy now seems to be coming true (though this will be hotly contested by the babus!). One of the nine officers has decided to call it quits. According to sources, domain expert Arun Goel who had joined the commerce ministry as joint secretary has put in his papers, barely a year after the much tom-tommed lateral entry of specialists in government. It is widely believed that the others hired under the scheme may similarly exit the government. If that happens, it will bring down the curtain on one of Mr Modi’s pet “reforms”, which no previous government had shown the inclination to implement.
The signs are already there. There have been no new appointments this year through lateral entry since the scheme was introduced last year to bring in domain experts from outside to fill the shortage of specialists in the upper echelons of the bureaucracy.

 

Is it a brave experiment destined not to succeed? Some observers believe that the scheme was not expected to succeed since the entrenched babus were wary of those who intruded on to their turf and would stymie any such attempt by the government. The babus seem to have fought off this breach of their castle. The walls they have erected around themselves are still holding up.

NDDB gets new chief

Until 2014, the chairmanship of the National Dairy Development Board (NDDB) was held by dairy professionals. But in its six years’ term at the Centre, the Modi sarkar has chosen to name only able senior administrators to the top post at NDDB.

 

Earlier this month, the government named Varsha Joshi, a 1995-batch IAS officer of the AGMUT cadre, as the new chairperson of NDDB. Previously, Ms Joshi was the joint secretary, department of animal husbandry and dairying, ministry of fisheries, animal husbandry and dairying. Her appointment ended speculation on Dilip Rath who was managing director of NDDB and later held additional charge of the post of chairman since 2016 getting another extension.

Sources say that Mr Rath’s claim to being the only Indian after Dr Amrita Patel, another former chief of NDDB, to be elected to the board of the International Dairy Federation, and his showcasing of his achievements on social media, did not endear him to the powers that be.

 

Varsha Joshi has been commissioner, North Delhi Municipal Corporation, secretary, power, Delhi government, joint secretary in the ministry of new and renewable energy and director with the Census of India.

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