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  Opinion   Columnists  26 Oct 2023  Dilip Cherian | Fresh intake of officers in CBI, IB, RAW, NIA to tackle shortfall

Dilip Cherian | Fresh intake of officers in CBI, IB, RAW, NIA to tackle shortfall

Love them, hate them ignore them at national peril, is the babu guarantee and Dilip’s belief. Share significant babu escapades dilipcherian@hotmail.com
Published : Oct 27, 2023, 12:12 am IST
Updated : Oct 27, 2023, 12:12 am IST

Now officers with a minimum of five years of service are eligible for induction into R&AW, IB, NIA & CBI

The chronic shortfall of officers in the CBI has considerably hampered the efficiency of the agency’s work. (AA Image)
 The chronic shortfall of officers in the CBI has considerably hampered the efficiency of the agency’s work. (AA Image)

Finally, the government is attempting to address the longstanding issue of understaffing in India’s premier intelligence and investigation agencies. Now officers with a minimum of five years of service are eligible for induction into R&AW, the Intelligence Bureau (IB), the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) and the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI). Previously, this criterion applied to all agencies except the CBI. This policy is poised to open the door for SP rank officers to enter the CBI.

The chronic shortfall of officers in the CBI has considerably hampered the efficiency of the agency’s work. As of this month, there were 42 vacant SP-level positions out of the 73 sanctioned posts. This is the highest vacancy rate among all 17 organizations, closely followed by the IB, with 32 vacancies at the same rank.

SP-level officers are of paramount importance in investigations, as they oversee and directly engage with cases. Given that the CBI handles high-profile cases, the vacancies at the SP level have long impeded the agency’s anti-corruption work.

Similarly, the Intelligence Bureau (IB) has expanded its cadre by including IG, ADG, and DG ranks, previously limited to SP and DIG. To ensure a balanced workforce, the number of “hardcore” IB officers, spanning ranks from SP to DG, should not exceed 50 per cent of the total posts, all of which are to be filled by IPS officers.

This updated policy also reflects changes in the empanelment of senior IPS officers. Each state care designates a Central deputation quota, requiring additional recruitment to provide trained and experienced officers for Central government roles.

Govt mobilises babus for nationwide roadshows

Commencing next month, officials from a dozen allied Central government services, including income tax, customs, central excise, audit and accounts, forests, postal, telecom and other sectors, are set to take on a unique role as “rath prabharis”, or special officers. They will embark on a nationwide tour lasting into January next year, covering approximately 2.69 lakh gram panchayats in specially equipped “raths” with the express objective of showcasing the achievements of the Modi Sarkar over the past nine years.

It's not a coincidence that this campaign will be run in the midst of the upcoming assembly elections in five states and the forthcoming Lok Sabha elections, where Prime Minister Narendra Modi seeks a third term in office.

While the Modi government has previously enlisted bureaucrats to promote and educate the public about its welfare programs since 2014, this marks the first instance in which such a significant number of officers from allied services are being mobilized to highlight the government’s accomplishments, in a blatant blurring of the lines between politics and administration. Sources have informed DKB that a total of 170 babus from various allied services will participate in this initiative, dubbed the Viksit Bharat Sankalp Yatra.

Expectedly, opposition parties regard this decision with suspicion, questioning the deployment of civil servants for political propaganda. Critics contend that utilising bureaucrats as “Rath Prabharis” blurs the line between government administration and political campaigning, potentially swaying voters. The INDIA Alliance leaders have demanded a retraction of the order, a weak long shot unless there is a public pushback, which appears unlikely.

Experts, including some former babus, point out the dire implications of this decision on transparency, ethical governance, and public perception. The issue will remain a subject of ongoing scrutiny and debate.

Not to be left behind, the Indian Army too has advised soldiers, when they go on leave, to spread awareness among local communities about Swachh Bharat and Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan and other schemes. Unlike babus, however, soldiers can’t protest about being used as “pracharaks”.

Moving beyond the G-20 rhetoric?

As the razzmatazz of G-20 fades into memory, there is still work to be done. Dr P.K. Mishra, the principal secretary to the Prime Minister, recently headed a high-level meeting to review the progress made in translating the G-20 Leaders’ Declaration in Delhi into tangible action.

The meeting included the Vice-Chairman of the Niti Aayog, the G-20 Sherpa, the G-20 chief coordinator and senior officials from the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), the Department of Economic Affairs (DEA), among others.

According to sources, a series of seven webinars have been proposed to be organized on themes ranging from nurturing strong, sustainable, balanced and inclusive growth to combating terrorism and money laundering. The webinars will be spearheaded by the respective ministries. The aim is to draw insights from area experts for the effective implementation of the New Delhi Leaders’ Declaration and set up a high-level monitoring mechanism to ensure that the implementation remains an ongoing process.

Apparently, Dr Mishra also discussed the upcoming G-20 Virtual Summit, an initiative initially proposed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. However, with the government now increasingly focused on the upcoming elections, the question is how much time will be devoted to matters of governance.

Tags: intelligence bureau (ib), national investigating agency (nia), cbi