Opinion Columnists 30 Dec 2021 Dilip Cherian | Ex-b ...
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Dilip Cherian | Ex-babus want Peace Nobel for farmers’ front

Published Dec 30, 2021, 7:37 am IST
Updated Dec 30, 2021, 7:37 am IST
A forum of former IAS officers has come out in support of the Samyukt Kisan Morcha, the apex body of the farmers
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The agitating farmers’ unions have called off their year-long protest against the Centre’s farm laws and ended their stir. The laws have been repealed and the farmers are now heading home feeling victorious. While they may have won over the hearts of the public with their non-violent resistance, they have not made friends with the government and the bureaucratic establishment.

However, a forum of former IAS officers has come out in support of the Samyukt Kisan Morcha, the apex body of the farmers, and even suggested that the Morcha be recommended for the Nobel Peace Prize! Though this year’s peace award has been announced already, the babus are hoping to push the nomination for next year. Interestingly some whispers have been heard that another forum of babus is planning to nominate Prime Minister Narendra Modi in a copycat frenzy!

 

The patrons of this hitherto little-known “forum”, former IAS officers S.S. Boparai and Rameshinder Singh, have said that the Morcha deserves the award “for its unique role in protecting the future of the country’s 50 per cent working peasant population”.

Mr Boparai, it turns out, retired from the IAS back in 2002 and is a former vice-chancellor of Punjabi University, Patiala. He was the rare babu to be honoured with the prestigious Kirti Chakra. During his career, besides holding important posts in Punjab, he was coal secretary at the Centre and even did a stint at the erstwhile Planning Commission.

 

Along with Rameshinder Singh, he had supported the farmers throughout the agitation and kept up a regular supply of quilts, blankets, pillows and tarpaulins to the camping farmers.

* Panel set up to suggest new IAS recruitment policy

For several years the government has lived with a shortage of IAS officers, much of this due to the restriction on the intake at 180 officers every year. Sources say that there is a shortage of at least 1,500 IAS officers across the country. Against the authorised strength of 6,699 officers, only 5,205 officers are available to the government.

 

Now, upon the urging of the parliamentary committee on personnel, public grievances, law and justice, the department of personnel and training (DoPT) has decided to take steps to redress the situation. DoPT secretary Pradip Kumar Tripathi has decided to set up a committee to assess the deficit of IAS officers and suggest a recruitment plan to be implemented from next year. While details of the committee are still awaited, it is believed that the panel will study the number of officers that would be required over the next decade. Also, it may recommend removing the restriction on the annual intake of IAS officers.

 

In its report presented to Parliament in the just-concluded Winter Session, the parliamentary committee had noted with some concern the increasing gap between the sanctioned strength and the availability of IAS officers.

* RBI cadre officer sent to NHAI

In a sudden burst of urgency, the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) has finally got its member, finance – after two years, to be precise. The government has appointed senior RBI cadre officer N.R.V.V.M.K. Rajendra Kumar to the post for a three-year term. It is also significant that an officer from a little-mentioned cadre of babus has been put in a big post. We can expect some conversations in IAS circles on this subject.

 

Sources have told DKB that Rajendra Kumar, who is chief general manager at the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), was among the five officers shortlisted for the post from a list of nine candidates. He has replaced 1996-batch IAS officer Asheesh Sharma, who is now joint secretary, DoPT.

With Mr Kumar’s appointment, babu watchers are now hoping that a similar sense of urgency will see the Centre make a move on appointing a new chairman for NHAI. The organisation is a key component of the government’s political calculus, where it needs to showcase its accomplishments in the rapid construction of highways. Also, it is pointed out that another post of member (PPP) has also been vacant for two years. The NHAI chairman’s post was vacated when S.S. Sandhu, a 1988-batch IAS officer, was abruptly repatriated to his parent cadre state of Uttarakhand as chief secretary. Hopefully, the next NHAI chairman will enjoy a full tenure.

 

 

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