The Union finance secretary may soon get a two-year fixed tenure as is the case with the Cabinet secretary, home, defence and foreign secretaries and CBI, Raw and ED chiefs. Sources say that the government is seriously considering this option. It is felt that the complexities of managing the country's ever-evolving economic policy cannot be dealt by an official with a tenure shorter than two years.
Sources feel the move could also have been triggered by the circumstances around the present Union revenue secretary, Hasmukh Adhia. A Gujarat-cadre IAS officer of the 1981 batch, Mr Adhia was appointed in the first week of November 2017 as finance secretary — just a year ahead of his scheduled retirement. In case the finance secretary's post is given a fixed tenure, it will keep Mr Adhia in service till November 2019. But a bigger question is that Mr Adhia is seen as the strongest contender for the post of Cabinet secretary following the completion of the extended tenure of Union Cabinet secretary P.K. Sinha on June 12 this year. What will happen if Mr Sinha gets another extension?
PM’s advice ignored
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has run into unexpected resistance in 115 backward districts earmarked for modernisation. The PM had urged states to appoint young IAS officers as district magistrates in the 115 backward districts. However, the states, particularly West Bengal and Odisha, have ignored Mr Modi's advice, seeing in it a hegemonic design of the Centre. It's not surprising that the Opposition parties rule these two states.
Sources say that while the PM wanted states to focus on appointing IAS officers in the age group of 25-30 years, Bengal and Odisha have chosen to appoint promotee IAS officers who are considerably older. The average age of district magistrates in charge of the 115 backward states is 40-plus. Mr Modi's keenness on appointing younger officers is put down to his belief that younger officers are more enthusiastic about identifying factors for the backwardness of these districts and addressing the issues than their older colleagues. But apparently, the message has got diffused in the prism of politics.
Redressing cops’ grievances
Gujarat has got its first full-term DGP, Shivanand Jha, after almost two years. During these two years, three interim chiefs headed the state police force. A 1982-batch IPS officer, Mr Jha is keen to put his stamp on the police force. To begin with, he has revived the long defunct police grievance redressal committee, aiming at resolving the job and deployment-related issues of policemen and even their personal problems. The committee had been set up in 1989 with great enthusiasm, which later waned.
The committee is headed by Mr Jha and other members include DGP (administration) Mohan Jha, additional DGP (police reforms) V.K. Mall, one police officer of the rank of IG and one of the rank of SP in the committee. Similar committees would also be set up at district and city level, with two members and representatives from different classes and ranks, including woman cops. According to sources, the state-level committee will meet once every three months to discuss the issues raised by police personnel and officials in the district and city level meetings. Mr Jha has also said that a separate committee would also be set up for the State Reserve Police Force (SRPF) with the same structure.