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  Opinion   Oped  07 Apr 2019  Dilli Ka Babu: Babus’ retirement home?

Dilli Ka Babu: Babus’ retirement home?

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 : Apr 7, 2019, 1:47 am IST
Updated : Apr 7, 2019, 1:47 am IST

The government cannot afford to be indifferent given how public perception might be impacted in this election season.

Pinarayi Vijayan (Photo: ANI)
 Pinarayi Vijayan (Photo: ANI)

The more things change, the more they stay the same. The Niti Aayog under the Modi sarkar is progressively beginning to resemble its earlier Planning Commission avatar at least in one aspect — as a favoured home for retired babus.

According to sources, the buzz is that vice chairman Rajiv Kumar and several members are in favour of appointing retired officers even though the Niti Aayog already has a group of full-time officers serving as advisers and principal advisers. There are already one special secretary, one principal consultant, one additional secretary, two senior advisers, and nine advisers who are full-time appointees of the government. Yet retired babus are being inducted on the grounds of experience and contribution.

 

The most recent induction is that of retired Indian Forest Service officer, Dr Ashok Kumar Jain, who retired last month as vice chairman and MD of Telangana Forest Development Corporation. He is now principal adviser (apex scale) of the Niti Aayog for a period of three years.

Apparently, his appointment was justified by his prior experience and substantial contribution in the Niti Aayog. He is considered an expert on sustainable development in the Indian Himalayan region. Earlier, C.K. Murali and U.K. Sharma were taken on the board of the Niti Aayog as members post-retirement. But many see such appointments as an attempt to extend the careers of retired officers or serving officers who do not wish to repatriate to their state cadres.

 

Trouble at the top
All is not well within the precincts of the chief minister’s office (CMO) in Kerala. Close on the heels of the resignation of chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan’s private secretary, it is now the turn of the CM’s chief principal secretary to quit. Sources say that Nalini Netto, a 1981-batch IAS officer, has resigned from the CMO.

Ms Netto’s resignation has triggered rumours about her severe differences with certain political appointees in the CM’s office. Sources say that though the CM asked her to continue till the end of the general elections, Ms Netto reportedly expressed her inability. There are reports that her relations with the CM’s political secretary hit a new low and important files were not shown to her.

 

Ms Netto had served as chief secretary under the Pinarayi Vijayan government. After retirement, Mr Vijayan immediately appointed her as his principal secretary in 2016.

The high life & big-time spenders
Five top babus from Maharashtra have got into a soup for submitting a bill of Rs 7.63 crore for their five-day sojourn on the snowy slopes of Davos. The delegation from Maharashtra included additional chief secretary S.M. Gavai. According to sources, the bills are now under scrutiny of the state accounts department, and if cleared, will be paid by the state treasury. There’s been a lot of outrage on Twitter but surprisingly, the Fadnavis government has not ordered an inquiry into the episode despite the mindboggling sum of money spent by the babus on what clearly seems to have been a junket and a wastage of the taxpayers’ money.

 

Davos has always been the playground of the global elite. Usually a low-key skiing village in Switzerland, for about two weeks each January, it morphs into a playground for the rich, famous and powerful. The World Economic Forum (WEF) brings the entire world’s business and political elites to the town to ponder weighty global issues such as free trade and climate change. India has been well represented at this annual jamboree, though this year the politicians were vastly outnumbered by corporate leaders. And babus.

The government cannot afford to be indifferent given how public perception might be impacted in this election season.

Tags: niti aayog, pinarayi vijayan