Dilli Ka Babu: Modi's plan for rookie babus

The Bihar IAS Officers Association is reportedly deeply upset at the arrest of Jitendra Gupta, a 2013-batch officer on charges of corruption.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has special plans for the 178 trainee Indian Administrative Service officers of the 2014 batch who will be joining the Centre for a three-month stint from next month. They are the second batch of IAS trainees who will undergo training in Delhi before going to their allotted cadres. The present batch have been assigned different ministries and departments, but sources say that they have been tasked to give “special focus” to Direct Benefits Transfer (DBT), e-office and usage of space technology projects in each ministry. Regarding DBT, the officers will be expected to review the status of DBT in all schemes of the ministry, including scholarship schemes, if any, in that ministry and ensure its implementation in a time-bound manner and specify roadmap for complete rollout.

The officers will be asked to identify various components of e-governance in ministries, including e-office, and ensure its implementation in a time-bound manner. At the end of their training they will make presentation to the Prime Minister. But what’s interesting to observers is that the three focus areas for the trainee IAS officers give a clear clue to Mr Modi’s priorities in his administration.

Sweeping changes in HRD ministry

Within days of the Cabinet reshuffle, the government effected a major bureaucratic reshuffle involving more than 50 senior officers. But one of the most eagerly awaited appointments was that of IAS officer Rajesh Kumar Chaturvedi who has been appointed chairman of the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) for a tenure of five years. The intense interest in Mr Chaturvedi’s appointment is that it has happened soon after Smriti Irani was replaced by Prakash Javadekar as the minister for human resources development.

The Madhya Pradesh cadre IAS officer of the 1987 batch is widely believed to be a no nonsense babu and that his selection was approved by the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) directly. In a way, it brings the curtain down on the Smriti Irani era. She had proposed Dr Sarvendra Vikram Bahadur Singh as the CBSE chief but Prime Minister Narendra Modi rejected the suggestion. Apparently, it’s not the first time that Ms Irani’s choice of CBSE did not find favour with the PMO. In August last year she had proposed Satbir Bedi as chief, which too was rejected, as Mr Bedi did not meet the criterion.

Besieged in Bihar

The Bihar IAS Officers Association is reportedly deeply upset at the arrest of Jitendra Gupta, a 2013-batch officer on charges of corruption. The babu was arrested after a complaint to the state vigilance bureau by a truck driver. During a raid on Mr Gupta’s house the cops claimed to have confiscated Rs 80,000 from Mr Gupta’s driver who claimed he had taken the money on the babu’s behalf.

The IAS fraternity, however, is distressed at the manner of Mr Gupta’s arrest on a basis of a casual complaint. Sources say that the association has met the state governor Ram Nath Kovind and chief minister Nitish Kumar to protest Mr Gupta’s arrest. Apparently the association, chaired by 1980-batch officer Amita Paul has declared that it will pay Mr Gupta’s legal expenses. What has irked the babus is that Mr Gupta is being allegedly held criminally liable for acts of those employed in his office.

Observers have also noted a hint of the IAS-IPS rivalry at play. Several IAS officers say that the government has given a free hand to the police to arrest people “on the slightest pretext” even when there are instances of senior IPS officers facing serious corruption charges but have not been arrested, unlike in Mr Gupta’s case.

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