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Advantage IAS

Published : Nov 6, 2016, 12:29 am IST
Updated : Nov 6, 2016, 12:29 am IST

The government has now made it mandatory that only IAS officers can apply for the post of Permanent Representative of India in Unesco, Paris, which be open once Ruchira Kamboj, a 1987 batch IFS, ends

The government has now made it mandatory that only IAS officers can apply for the post of Permanent Representative of India in Unesco, Paris, which be open once Ruchira Kamboj, a 1987 batch IFS, ends her term next year. This joint secretary-ranked post comes under the control of the department of higher education under the ministry of human resource development, and was not reserved for IAS officers exclusively.

But now, sources say, a letter from the department of personnel and training issued recently states that the first mandatory qualification for an applicant is that the officer should belong to the IAS, and who has been empanelled to hold joint secretary or equivalent posts at the Centre.

Before Ms Kamboj took charge as Permanent Representative of India to Unesco in April 2014, an IAS officer of 1979 batch — Vinay Sheel Oberoi held that Paris-located post very competently. Mr Oberoi, who is now a secretary in HRD, was given extensions for personal reasons and he held the post for four years.

Though the Unesco post was always considered an IAS post, earlier advertisements never mentioned it categorically that only IAS officers could apply. Had it been so, Ms Kamboj would not have been selected at all.

MP’s new chief secretary The appointment of Basant Pratap Singh as the new chief secretary of Madhya Pradesh has ended furious speculation among babus about the successor to Anthony de Sa, who retired after serving as the longest serving chief secretary. Mr Singh, a 1984-batch IAS officer, was additional chief secretary in the home department before his new appointment.

Among Bhopal’s babu circles it was widely believed that Mr De Sa’s successor would be an officer of the 1982-batch. But the twists and turns of luck have resulted in the 1982 batch officers missing out. Informed sources say that four IAS officers of the 1982 batch, who would have been eligible, are serving as secretaries in the Centre and have no interest in returning to the state. One officer Pravesh Sharma took voluntary retirement earlier this year. The sole member of the 1982 batch serving in the state, S.R. Mohanty, is now expected to be posted out of Mantralaya now that his junior has been made chief secretary.

The ‘contract’ tribe For decades, when governments wanted to retain the services of officers beyond their retirement, they would be given extensions. In a break from the past, the Modi sarkar has started re-employing its favourite babus after their retirement on contract. Babu watchers have noted this inclination growing. They cite several such examples to point out that this is increasingly a trend in the present government.

Even as observers were debating who would succeed A.K. Mital as Railway Board chairman, the government gave him a two-year contract on the day of his retirement! The example of IPS officer Sharad Kumar is also quite illustrative. By the time he finishes his two-year contractual term in October next year, Mr Kumar will have completed 51 months as chief of the National Investigation Agency (NIA). That’ll make his tenure in the same position even longer than that of former Cabinet secretaries Ajit Seth and K.M. Chandrasekhar, who served in their posts for four years with extensions.

Other notable functionaries working on contract include Amitabh Kant, CEO Niti Aayog, Prakash Mishra, former director-general of CRPF, Parameswaran Iyer, secretary, drinking water and sanitation, and Syed Ibrahim, who has a three-year contract as special envoy.

Clearly, the contract system is here to stay. And babus who are “indispensable” may now be hankering for a contract rather than an extension.