Babu watchers expect a reshuffle at the top level in the finance ministry in the coming weeks. It has been necessitated after G.C. Murmu, who headed the department of expenditure in the ministry, was appointed the first lieutenant governor of Jammu and Kashmir after it became a Union territory.
Further, finance secretary Rajiv Kumar is scheduled to retire in February next year, followed by economic affairs secretary Atanu Chakraborty in April. Sources say that though revenue secretary A.B.P. Pandey is slated to stay in the post until February 2021, the grapevine suggests that the Modi sarkar may turf him out to some other department. The reasoning, it is indicated, is that the government is unhappy about vital numbers of the economy slipping steadily.
If the buzz indeed turns out to be true, we can expect a fresh set of faces in the finance ministry to steer the economy.
‘Balancing’ act upsets IAS
One service that is benefiting from the Modi sarkar’s efforts to break the hegemony of the Indian Administrative Service (IAS) is the Indian Railway Service (IRS). This year, out of 228 officers empanelled at the joint secretary level, 78 officers are from the IRS, compared to just 49 from the IAS and 46 from the Indian Revenue Service. The rest of the 55 officers are from the IPS, IFoS and other services.
This trend is not just limited to 2019. Earlier too, Indian Railway Service babus have outnumbered officials from the other services, including IAS, empanelled at the joint secretary level.
Currently, the eligibility criteria for IAS officers to be empanelled for a certain position is two years less than their counterparts from other services under the Central Staffing Scheme — an advantage seen as discriminatory by the others. After the Modi government decided to balance things out at the top of the civil service, the other services are being empanelled in proportion to their strength.
Not surprisingly, the “heaven-born” are far from pleased with this trend and are increasingly talking about the government’s “bias” against the IAS officers. However, while the mighty IAS are losing strength at the joint secretary level, the service still dominates at the additional secretary and secretary levels.
IPS Association not ‘legal’: MHA
The ministry of home affairs has told the Central Information Commission (CIC), in response to an RTI application, that the IPS Association does not have the “express sanction” of the government.
The ministry has further explained that the police force has no right to form an association without the permission of the Central government, making the IPS Association an illegal organisation.
Not surprisingly, the IPS Association is deeply upset with the ministry’s stand. According to P.V.R. Sastri, a former IPS officer and secretary of the association, the IPS officers are recruited and governed under the all India service rules, which do not prohibit the formation of an association by the officers. Sources say that the upset IPS officers have challenged the ministry’s stand, while their counterparts in the Central Armed Police Forces feel that the ministry’s stand has vindicated their views about the IPS Association. The IPS officers, however, blame their IAS colleagues in the ministry for their alleged “bias” and creating controversy. Now, this sounds familiar!