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  Opinion   Oped  04 Jun 2017  Dilli Ka Babu: Modi’s Mantra — Perform or perish

Dilli Ka Babu: Modi’s Mantra — Perform or perish

Love them, hate them ignore them at national peril, is the babu guarantee and Dilip’s belief. Share significant babu escapades
Published : Jun 4, 2017, 12:15 am IST
Updated : Jun 4, 2017, 12:15 am IST

A service review on a government employee is conducted twice — first after 15 years and again after 25 years of completion of qualifying service.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi (Photo: PTI)
 Prime Minister Narendra Modi (Photo: PTI)

Governments are often accused of being bloated and overstaffed. At the beginning of his term, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had made reforming bureaucracy an area of prime focus. And he now seems to be taking steps to remove the “dead wood” in the administrative workforce. Over the past few months, the Centre has been quietly weeding out government officials for “non-performance”, as many as 129 babus have been forced to retire “in public interest”.

Sources say that the action results from reviewing the service records of over 24,000 Group A officers and 42,251 Group B officers. Apparently, 30 Group A officers and 99 Group B officers have been sent into compulsory retirement. The first of such actions was in January when the Centre terminated a senior IAS officer on grounds of non-performance. A service review on a government employee is conducted twice — first after 15 years and again after 25 years of completion of qualifying service.

Though instances of babus being dismissed are common, usually it is due to corruption or other criminal offences committed during office. It is rare that the Centre weeds out babus for failing at work. Things are changing in the system, and not all these changes will please the babus!

Babus caught in the middle
West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee likes to run a tight ship. Considering her chilly relations with the Centre, Didi does not look kindly upon requests from IAS and IPS officers of the state cadre for a Central deputation. Sources say that the babus are actively discouraged from putting such requests in writing. At best, they can make verbal requests to the chief secretary.

Apparently more than a dozen requests have been pending for over a year despite the department of personnel and training (DoPT) repeatedly asking the state to fill its portion of the Central reserve. At present, against the sanctioned 78, there are just seven West Bengal officers on Central deputation. The “no-deputation” policy seems to stem from the feeling that state cadre officers in Delhi can be influenced by the Centre. Even the visits of state officers to Delhi for meetings have been restricted.

Even training programmes outside the state for IAS and IPS probationers are viewed as an attempt to “brainwash” young officers. Not only this, the CM has asked officers not to share any documents with the Centre, unless she specifically clears them. The babus seem to be caught between a rock and a hard place.

A service by any name
What’s in a name? Everything, the Indian Foreign Service seems to believe. A strange battle has erupted in babudom over nomenclature between the Indian Foreign Service and the Indian Forest Service over who should be called IFS. And it’s been going on ever since the ministry of external affairs (MEA) sent a request last December to the department of personnel and training (DoPT) that IFS has been used to denote Indian Foreign Service since 1946, much before the forest service was created in 1966, for which the acronym IFoS has traditionally been used. In other words, the MEA wants to patent the acronym IFS.

The issue is certainly of some importance since DoPT has sought further views even if others outside the ring seem to think that too much is being made out of the issue of nomenclature.

The forest service officers not only dispute this claim but in fact are arguing that the term Indian Foreign Service itself is “unconvincing”, since a service cannot be both Indian and foreign at the same time. They’d prefer to use IFS for themselves and demand that the foreign service is renamed Indian Diplomatic Service or Indian External Affairs Service. And so, it goes on!

Tags: narendra modi, mamata banerjee, indian foreign service, mea