Saturday, Sep 23, 2023 | Last Update : 04:30 AM IST

  Opinion   Columnists  14 Feb 2023  Dilip Cherian | Babus are losers in selection of new governors

Dilip Cherian | Babus are losers in selection of new governors

Love them, hate them ignore them at national peril, is the babu guarantee and Dilip’s belief. Share significant babu escapades
Published : Feb 15, 2023, 12:00 am IST
Updated : Feb 15, 2023, 12:00 am IST

That not a single babu was seen as governor material is a severe setback


The Centre has appointed over a dozen governors in various states but, oddly, there’s no bureaucrat on the list. The 13 include a retired Supreme Court judge, two retired Army officers and four BJP leaders. While six are newcomers, seven others have been moved from one state to another.

That not a single babu was seen as governor material is a severe setback, no doubt, for ambitious babus who have long viewed a post-retirement sinecure almost as a de jure.

The pall of gloom in the senior ranks of babudom is palpable. Except perhaps in the law ministry, where the babus, sources have informed DKB, are rather pleased that some of their favourite candidates have been “successfully placed”. Could it be that the law secretary has a better equation with the powers-to-be than other babus?

Still, the overall trend is distressing. Some top babus, who felt they rendered yeoman service have been cooling their heels for long now. Expect lots of disjointed dissatisfaction from them now. But the ones maintaining stoic silence still live in hope, in homes they're loath to give up yet. 

Of late, the IAS has seen a gradual erosion in its “elevated” status, with the Modi Sarkar appointing non-IAS officers to posts traditionally held by them. Now it is no longer surprising to see officers from IRS and IFoS breaching the IAS bastion. Why, the babus have even lost control of the prestigious Gymkhana Club to the Central government, after losing a legal battle against the corporate affairs ministry. The loss of turf is real, and that should worry the current lot of babus nearing retirement and who covet a small sinecure for their services once they depart the babu corridors.


Govt steps on the pedal for IPS empanelment

There is a sense of urgency about the recent empanelment of over 29 IPS officers for the director general (DG) or equivalent posts at the Centre. These officers are from the 1985, 1986, 1987 and 1988 batches. The empanelment of these officers for DG-level and equivalent posts was considered by a selection committee comprising principal secretary to the Prime Minister, P.K. Mishra; Cabinet secretary Rajiv Gauba; home secretary Ajay Kumar Bhalla; secretary (personnel) Deepak Khandekar; and director of Intelligence Bureau Tapan Deka.

Among those whose empanelment has been cleared is Rashmi Shukla, the 1988 batch IPS officer who was amid several controversies in Maharashtra. It clears Shukla’s path to either head a central force or return to Maharashtra in an important post. Sources have told DKB that since she is senior to DGP Rajnish Seth, some senior officer will have to be displaced if the government decides to send her back to Maharashtra. Two more IPS officers were also empanelled as DG: Atulchandra Kulkarni and Sadanand Date.

Mr Date’s elevation in Maharashtra has also been approved by the police establishment board, but he has yet to be assigned a DG posting, despite the fact that DG-level posts are available. Mr Date is currently the head of the Anti-Terrorism Squad, and Mr Kulkarni is an additional DG at the National Investigation Agency. Meanwhile, Mumbai special police commissioner Deven Bharti has been empanelled as additional DG.

As many as eight IPS officers of the UP cadre and five officers of the Punjab were empanelled at the Centre in the rank of director general and additional director general.


Babus keep losing their cool in Bihar

What up in Nitish Kumar’s Bihar? Senior IAS and IPS officers are in the news these days for their public spats rather than service.

Most recently, two Bihar IPS officers were in a stand-off that has not only played out in the public domain but also gave ammo to chief minister Nitish Kumar’s opposition to criticise his administration.  Inspector general, home guard and fire services, Vikas Vaibhav, had posted a series of tweets accusing director general Shobha Ohatkar of abusing him unnecessarily. This led to the DG rejecting his application for two-month leave and issuing a showcause notice.

This is not the first time that a senior officer has been accused of using foul language and ill-treating subordinates and colleagues. This incident follows on the heels of the episode in which senior IAS officer K.K. Pathak made headlines after a viral video showed him using expletives to pull up a deputy collector. Mr Pathak later apologised but still maintained that the trainees were undisciplined.

As these incidents play out, many observers say that such controversies show that Bihar’s administration is in free fall, which should worry the chief minister.

Tags: supreme court, modi sarkar, bihar