Dilli Ka Babu: Modi sarkar’s ‘double faults’
The Northeast has been marked out for special attention by the Modi sarkar.
Among the more notable reforms wrought by the Modi sarkar since 2014 are evident in the way the government functions. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s preference for bureaucrats over netas in running the government is well known. He has also pushed through many policies to improve governance and reform the bureaucracy. However, the government seems to be shirking from or it has just missed out on taking steps to remove caste and gender imbalance in the bureaucracy.
Parliament was recently informed that out of 82 secretaries to the government, a mere four are from Scheduled Caste or Scheduled Tribes communities. They are posted in the department of empowerment of persons with disabilities, the department of land resources, the department of pharmaceuticals and the ministry of labour and employment.
Similarly, the number of women appointed as secretaries in the government is just 12 out of 82. While a few like health secretary Preeti Sudan and secretary (east) Vijay Thakur Singh hold important portfolios, most of the others are posted in such departments and ministries as fisheries, official languages, disability or youth affairs. The recent ouster of school education secretary Rina Ray from the human resource development ministry is still fresh in the minds of women babus. Sources also say that out of the 700 officials working as joint secretaries at the Centre, only 134 are women.
However this is to be addressed, there’s a job that needs to be tackled sensitively rather than merely statistically.
N-E cops in the capital
The Northeast has been marked out for special attention by the Modi sarkar. There is an emphasis on infrastructure development to improve connectivity and efforts to create employment opportunities. But this pro-Northeast “tilt” is apparently not reflected within the capital’s bureaucracy.
Though at least 10 senior UT cadre IPS officers are at present serving in Delhi Police, they are usually on assignments such as training, VIP security or Delhi Armed Police, which are considerably lower down in the pecking order. In Delhi Police, posting in crime, law and order, economic offence wing, licensing and traffic are considered more “prestigious” but, sources say, few officers from the Northeast are given postings in these departments. To cite some examples, P.N. Khirmey, a 2004 batch UT cadre officer, is DIG of Delhi Armed Police; Michi Paku, also from the same batch, is DIG, Police Training College; and Apurva Bithin is DIG, training.
Trouble in Gujarat
It appears all is not well in Gujarat, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s home state, despite being run by BJP chief minister Vijay Rupani. Certainly, the situation there it seems merits sending Mr Modi’s trusted bureaucrat Anil Mukim back to the state as its new chief secretary.
That was the reaction of most observers at Mr Modi’s sudden move. Mr Mukim’s appointment has also nixed the chances of Arvind Agarwal, the seniormost babu in Gujarat who was the frontrunner to succeed J.N. Singh for the top post in the state.
The buzz is that Mr Agarwal was close to chief minister Rupani, who had recommended his name to the Prime Minister’s Office, citing his seniority and efficiency. But clearly, that did not cut much ice with the PMO. Sources say that by snubbing Mr Rupani’s choice for chief secretary, the PMO has shown that it is not happy with how Gujarat is being handled. There is talk of a “Rajkot coterie” (read: Mr Rupani and his favoured babus) pulling the strings in the state, which seems to have irked the PMO.
Mr Mukim is obviously meant to set “things” right in a manner acceptable to the PMO. But this clearly has become a space that’s worth watching.