The appointment of additional director general of police (ADGP) rank police officer O.P. Singh as principal secretary of Haryana’s department of sports and youth affairs has triggered off a turf war with IAS officers questing the move for being “against civil service rules”.
According to sources, Mr Singh is the first IPS officer appointed to this post, which was traditionally held by a senior IAS officer. Not surprisingly, therefore, the appointment has raised the issue of “supremacy” of IAS over IPS officers — a battle that sees no end. Leading the charge of the IAS is none other than whistleblower Ashok Khemka, who has reportedly written to chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar claiming that Mr Singh’s appointment is “illegal and a bad precedent”. According to Mr Khemka, the rules state only a cadre officer can occupy a cadre post. Further, recommendations of the civil services board chaired by the chief secretary are mandatory for appointment to an IAS cadre post. Mr Khemka claims that this rule was not followed by the government. Mr Singh’s is not an isolated case. The state government has reportedly posted Rajnish Garg, a DANIPS officer, as state project director of Haryana School Sikhsha Pariyojna Parishad, a post meant for IAS officers.
Kerala IPS officer faces demotion
In a first, the Kerala government has decided to demote Jacob Thomas, the controversial DGP-ranked IPS officer in Kerala, to ADGP, based on a departmental enquiry against him. Mr Thomas is the seniormost police officer in the state and is slated to retire in May this year.
Mr Thomas has been in and out of headlines after penning an autobiography without obtaining prior sanction. He fell foul of the political establishment for allegedly making inflammatory and provocative statements against the government. However, Mr Thomas got a favourable order from the Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT), following which the government posted him in the state industries department while starting disciplinary proceedings against him.
A major MEA rejig
With foreign secretary Harsh Shringla taking charge, minister of external affairs (MEA) S. Jaishankar has set into motion perhaps the biggest management and administrative structural rejig of the ministry in several decades. The most significant feature of this exercise is that the new MEA will be more corporate in its structure, with new “verticals” like economic and trade diplomacy, development partnership, consular relations and emerging areas such as technology. Each of these verticals will be headed by additional secretary-level officers. The aim is to do away with the present pyramid structure and to separate foreign policy from strategic projects. Meanwhile, the secretaries will be free to focus on big-ticket issues.
Presently, the system puts enormous pressure on joint secretaries as well as the four secretaries, leaving little room for strategic planning and initiatives. This new system is designed to break some of the silos and align the ministry’s functioning with that of global powers. One of the criticisms of the Indian Foreign Service (IFS) is that it is among the smallest foreign services in the world. Sources say, under the new system, the diplomatic pool will be expanded by bringing in specialists from the private sector and thinktanks, etc. Further, the ministry will deploy its personnel in other key ministries such as commerce, defence, finance, science and technology, etc to increase cooperation and create synergy with India’s global diplomatic ambitions.
Clearly, this is a big step and will take months before its impact will be apparent. But by introducing it at the beginning of the Modi sarkar’s second term, Mr Jaishankar and Mr Shringla have ample time to put it into play....