gfiles magazine

May 12, 2014

All for Suhag

VOL. 8, ISSUE 2 | May 5, 2014
army appointments
The UPA government’s efforts to appoint Lt Gen Dalbir Singh Suhag as the new Army Chief are controversial and need to be scrutinised closely
by mg Devasahayam
The impending appointment of the next Army chief to fill the vacancy arising on July 31, 2014, has raised a raging controversy. As the Ministry of Defence (MoD) commenced the selection process, General VK Singh, former Army chief, and his party, the Bharatiya Janata party (BJP), made this an issue, saying that with the present UPA government’s term ending in May, selection and appointment of the next Army chief should be left to the new government taking over....Read more

Farewell gift to backroom boys

government appointments
The moment the elections are announced and the code of conduct is in place, governments in power usually desist from taking important policy decisions. This is an age-old tradition based on ethics, morality, propriety and respect for the opponent. But, today, who cares? When you have the Election Commission willing to turn a blind eye to the illegitimate whims of the government, everything goes. Neeraj Mahajan reports
At the fag end of its tenure, the UPA government is setting examples of bad governance and politicising the appointments in various government institutions. Most of these appointments are being seen as a motivated exercise to change the Line of Succession by a government that is unlikely to return to power when the results are announced on May more

Human security is true ‘development’

development mg devasahayam
Human security is much more than national security. Only when its four vital elements—material sufficiency, human dignity, democracy and participatory governance—coalesce can there be true development
Sriperumbudur Parliamen-tary constituency, adjoining Chennai in Tamil Nadu, is a ‘developed’ one if the neo-liberal ‘development’ criteria are adopted. This is the home of some state-of-the -art ‘infrastructure’ projects, special economic zones and giant MNCs—Motorola, Samsung, Dell, Ford, Hyundai, BMW, Nokia, Saint Gobain, Nissan, Caterpillar, to mention a few. But, as pre-election surveys show, the locals are left wondering as to what the ‘development’ is all about! For them the roads are bad, bus services are more

IAS officers sans conscience?

7th pay commission wish list
While governance has collapsed and corruption has increased, the IAS mandarins have come out with a wish list instead of addressing these issues
by mg Devasahayam
I read this news in The Hindu on the morning of April 14, 2014 under the headline ‘IAS officers drafting wish-list for pay panel’ and a strapline saying, ‘Comprehensive and united representation of demands planned.’ The news story went like this:
When the country is in the midst of electing a new government, the executive is busy drafting its wish-list for the Seventh Pay Commission.
As per a recent resolution, the Central Indian Administrative Service Officers’ Association has decided to present a comprehensive and united representation of its demands before the Seventh Pay Commission, the setting up of which was announced by the government last month....Read more

The turncoat bureaucrat

bureaucracy ashwani lohani
Bureaucrats have failed to play the role assigned to them in the task of nation- building. Instead, they seem more concerned with enjoying the fruits of power
The imminent change of guard at Raisina Hill will once again witness the emergence of turncoat bureaucrats, this time in large numbers due to their long association with almost a decade of single- coalition governance at the Centre. Misrule or otherwise, the penchant of the Indian bureaucrat to disassociate himself from the previous government and actively associate with the next, even at the cost of being termed a turncoat, is perhaps beyond compare.
Bureaucrats are expected to be non-political and, therefore, meant to guide and obey the diktats of their elected political masters. Yet, many of them emerge as bigger and wily politicians in their perpetual efforts to have a good time, almost always. Good times they invariably have, albeit at the cost of the nation and the hapless populace...Read more

Was Siachen to be handed over to the Americans?

controversy memoirs
by GS Chawla
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s former Media Adviser Sanjaya Baru’s book, The Accidental Prime Minister—The Making and Unmaking of Manmohan Singh, has created a lot of controversies, not only about the timing of the release of the book but also certain important facts. When Baru was with Singh, he did enjoy the confidence of the Prime Minister. But he was known as a loudmouth, who used to make derogatory remarks about journalists and politicians whom he did not like. While talking to some journalists and other friends, he did not spare even the Congress President. This reached 10 Janpath, which later blocked his entry into the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) and Harish Khare, a nominee of Ahmad Patel and Jairam Ramesh, replaced Baru in the PMO.....Read more

We have introduced a gender lens in all sectors

Syeda Saiyidain Hameed

Dr Syeda Saiyidain Hameed figures in Sanjaya Baru’s controversial book The Accidental Prime Minister. Baru, who has kicked up a political storm as an author, mentions Dr Hameed as someone who pipped Anu Aga, Chairperson of Thermax, as Member, Planning Commission. The Prime Minister had asked Baru to sound Aga but a last-minute change saw Hameed in and Aga out. Hameed also raked up controversy when she performed a nikah, a Muslim marriage, in Lucknow. This was the first by a woman. A nikah is usually contracted by a Qazi. In the Planning Commission, where Dr Hameed spent 10 eventful years, she focused on gender, minorities and health. On the eve of demitting office....Read more

Managing interpersonal skills

workplace dalip singh
“We know from daily life that we exist for other people first of all, on whose smiles and well-being our own happiness depends.”
– Albert Einstein
•  “How can I manage my company when two of my directors on the Board have not spoken to each other for years?” laments the chairman of a large government sector steel company.
•  “The management is locked up in various courts for the last two decades over personnel issues. There appears to be no end to litigation. Every second employee is in the habit of moving the courts against the management or peer group. All senior posts are lying vacant and people are retiring. No new recruitments are being made. The morale of officers and the organisation is at a nadir,” confesses the CEO of a power generation company...Read more

Of Babus and Netas

IC Centre for Governance
by Ajit Ujjainkar
On the eve of the general election, the IC Centre for Governance (ICCFG) hosted a lecture series on the changing role of the civil services. The lectures on the critical topic of the relationship between the bureaucrats and the political leadership were delivered on April 4, 2014, at the India International Centre, New Delhi.
In his opening remarks, Prabhat Kumar, former Cabinet Secretary and Governor of Jharkhand and currently the President of the ICCFG, said that Sardar Patel, the founder of the civil services in independent India, had visualised a clear role definition for the two crucial categories of bureaucrats and politicians. The political leadership defined the policies and the bureaucracy implemented these policies. The politicians had the vision and perspective, and the civil servants the domain knowledge and institutional memory. They started with feelings of mutual trust and interdependence. But over the years, they failed to delimit their respective roles with precision and clarity and this created feelings of mistrust and suspicion among them....Read more

Diplomacy extraordinary

fiji tp sreenivasan
Fiji marked a turning point in India’s policy towards overseas Indians as the developments there took place at a time when the government was in the process of rediscovering the potential of the Indian diaspora
The assignment to Fiji has been hazardous to Indian envoys at the best of times. For historical reasons, the envoys are looked upon by the Fiji Indians as their mentors. At the same time, the Indian envoys are expected to promote multiracialism and multiculturalism and maintain the delicate racial balance enshrined in the Fiji constitution. Any effort on their part, therefore, to strengthen the Indian community’s cultural links with India are seen with suspicion and they are often accused of interfering in the internal affairs of the country.
In my case, the problems were compounded by the fact that my arrival coincided with the emergence of the Labour Party......Read more

Right to reputation

justice amitabh thakur
A good reputation is an element of personal security and is protected by the Constitution equally with the right to the enjoyment of life, liberty and property
We often read newspaper reports of judges allegedly commenting on the work and conduct of the executive and its members. Very recently, my wife, Nutan, and I found ourselves in a somewhat similar situation when the Lucknow bench of the Allahabad High Court made certain statements about both of us in separate Public Interest Litigations (PILs). Both the cases are still under judicial process and hence I cannot and shall not make any comment on them except to quote them and academically discuss some of the issues that naturally arise out of them.
The first of these happened in a PIL filed by me regarding the frequent strikes and work boycott called by advocates in Uttar Pradesh. No one would disagree with the fact that this boycott has become a big challenge to the entire judicial process...Read more

Comedy of campaigns

humour mk kaw
Narendra Modi’s realpolitik came to the fore in his treatment of the Lokayukta appointment. From 2003 to 2013, he did not permit the post to be filled.
The elections that we saw this time around were one long laugh. Even those of us who are born sour pusses and cannot see the humour in a situation despite packaging by Raju Srivastava or Kapil Sharma and loud canned laughter will also agree that we have been witnesses to the ultimate comedy show bordering on farce.
Look at the way the BJP conducted its campaign. There was a single motif; the adulation of a single individual. Just as Sachin fans chanted, “Sachin, Sachin!” at the time of his retirement, the devotees of the demi-god, Narendra, chanted, “Modi, Modi!” even at the beginning of his campaign. The religious flavour could also be tasted in the “Namo, Namo!”mantra...Read more

Let’s wait for the good days

dr gs sood
THE market may not be able to post any major gains post-May 16 since it has already factored in the formation of an NDA government though it may still have some upside if the NDA gets a clear majority. But a knee-jerk steep correction is waiting to happen if the NDA gets barely past 200 and is stranded somewhere around 200-225 seats. The Sensex, at the current PE of more than 19, is trading at a slightly higher level than the 10-year historic average of around 18.5. Macros have improved considerably and there is more stability around the world. Flows into emerging markets have improved, giving them the taste of a bull market amidst a scenario of high inflation and low growth where small investors are sceptic and domestic financial institutions are turning net sellers. This may partly be due to the lack of faith market players have in the projections made by opinion polls —a case of once bitten twice shy, and here in fact twice bitten since the projections were way off the mark in both the previous polls of 2004 and 2009. Any shortfall in the NDA’s clear majority is likely to substantially dilute its policy stance... Read more

Tell-all books shake the edifice


controversy memoirs
The recent spate of books by former bureaucrats has raised a lot of heat and the debate is again on whether writing such books is ethical or not
by Neeraj Mahajan
A few years back Vajai Vardhan, Principal Secretary and Financial Commissioner of Haryana, released Ibadat—the breath of my soul, a collection of 120 haikus, or short poems. His earlier book, Beyond the Great Beyond was based on research on Sufi poets in Lucknow. Close on his heels, Haryana’s chief electoral officer, Sumita Misra, came up with A Light of Life, a compilation of poems. Within a few months, another bureaucrat, Vivek Atray, released Move on Bunny, a comic fiction on the life of a Punjabi boy...Read more

Do not limit yourself to the limited

detachment sadhguru

The 14th of May is Buddha Poornima. Although the term ‘Buddha’ is usually synonymous with Gautama Buddha, there have been thousands of Buddhas on the planet and there still are.
The word ‘Buddha’ literally means one who is above the intellect. Once you are above the intellect, you are beyond suffering. Buddha Poornima is a reminder that it is possible for every single human being to go beyond suffering. You don’t have to know the scriptures; you don’t have to sit on top of the Himalaya to get there. The only qualification is willingness. What is within you can never be denied to you. If you are willing, it is always available...Read more

Misplaced loyalties

polls & roles

battle for varanasi
THE Congress boasts that it is a 125 -year-old party. But, ironically, the great old party could not find a leader of stature who could contest against Narendra Modi in Varanasi. In fact, the party dilly-dallied on deciding on the candidate against Modi for a long time. Though Digvijaya Singh initially put his hat in the ring, he did that with a rider—he said he was ready to fight from Varanasi if the party decided on him. Even Anand Sharma, Minister for Commerce and Industry, who has never ever won even a municipality election, said that he was ready to fight against Modi if the party chose him. When the party still remained undecided, Digvijaya recommended the name of Ajai Rai, his ‘protégé’, to fight against Modi. Rai was earlier an MLA with the BJP. He later moved to the Samajwadi Party (SP) and then to the Congress in 2012. Currently an MLA from Varanasi, Rai was inducted into the Congress at the behest of Digvijaya. But the fact remains that, though Rai is a strong candidate, in stature he is nowhere close to Modi... Read more

If there’s a will, there’s a way

polls & roles

amar singh resurfaces
How intriguingly someone can turn into a pariah in politics can be gauged by analysing the career graph of the maverick Amar Singh. Once a person who wielded immense power and influence over political leaders, businessmen and Bollywood celebrities, today he is viewed as an untouchable by most parties. Nobody wants to be seen with him. Singh must have obliged top leaders many times when he used to liaise for Shyam Bhartiya and the Birla group, but today nobody is ready to come to his aid. Singh was desperate to join the Congress before the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. For this, he contacted the Thakur politicians in the Congress, but no one showed any enthusiasm to help him enter the party. Somehow, Singh’s confidante, Jaya Prada, managed to get an audience with Rahul Gandhi. Sources say that though Rahul was ready to take Jaya Prada into the Congress fold, the plea for Singh’s entry got a big no... read more

The lone crusader

polls & roles

search for crowd-pullers
Till Priyanka’s limited entry on the election scene, Rahul Gandhi was the only general who fought the battle for the Congress in the Lok Sabha elections. Though the Congress has many leaders—and some of them travelled around the country to campaign too—they were not in demand by the candidates fighting the elections. The reason was that they failed to attract crowds. Their speeches were marked by thin attendance wherever they went to woo voters. To make matters worse, the media just focused on the main players like Modi and Rahul and, to a large extent, ignored the other leaders of any political party. There was yet another reason. A top Congress leader told gfiles that the ruling party always fought elections led by the Prime Minister, the Home Minister, the Defence Minister, and the Finance Minister.... Read more

Taking charge

priyanka to the rescue
Finally, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra has arrived. As her brother, Rahul Gandhi, and mother, Sonia Gandhi, campaign across the country, Priyanka has taken charge of the Congress party’s election control room. Though there are many leaders in the planning team, the final nod is always taken from Priyanka. It is learnt that the Congress has roped in a prominent survey agency, which has briefed Priyanka on the winnable seats in the election. Kunwar Jitendra Singh and Suman Dubey, a veteran journalist and an old friend of the Gandhi family, are the core members of Priyanka’s team. In fact, the names of senior leaders who visited different States were also finalised by Priyanka. Her team also planned optimum utilisation of helicopters by installing GPS machines. So don’t be surprised if in the days to come Priyanka takes over as the de-facto boss of the party...Read more

Man for all regimes the way

Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda has appointed dedicated officials in his secretariat. His ‘Navratna’ team has vast experience and is ready to do anything for the Chief Minister. Among them, Deputy Principal Secretary RS Doon has survived for the longest duration. No matter who is the Chief Minister in Haryana, Doon has always made his presence felt. Belonging to Bhiwani district and originally from the Haryana State Civil Services, he was inducted as an IAS officer in 1994. He has served as Deputy Commissioner of Rohtak and Karnal. He started his career with the excise department. Luck later took him to Amritsar, where he met his girlfriend and they got married. Sources say that Doon is so popular with Haryana politicians that he used to have breakfast with Saroj (daughter of former Chief Minister Bansi Lal), lunch with Chander Mohan (son of late Chief Minister Bhajan Lal) and dinner with Abhay Singh (son of former Chief Minister Om Prakash Chautala)......Read more

Ins & outs the way

Read moreMany Secretaries of the Government of India will move from one ministry to the other in June. It has to happen; it is not a new thing. When a new dispensation takes over the reins of South Block, there is a reshuffle of secretary- and joint secretary-level officials. The first major reshuffle will happen in the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO). Most PMO officials are packing their bags to either leave for their respective States, or are waiting for a new posting at the Centre. Senior bureaucrats, who have connections in almost all political parties, are watching the situation and pursuing their cases to get ministries of their choice. There are six major ministries where Secretaries will be changed—Petroleum, Commerce, Communications, Water Resources, Finance and Road Transport. It is to be seen whether the new dispensation replaces Secretaries.....Read more

Lakshman rekha the way

If Narendra Modi becomes Prime Minister of India, the person whose life will be changed forever is his wife, Jashodaben Chimanlal Modi. Modi publicly accepted her as his wife after almost 45 years while filing his nomination for the Vadodara Lok Sabha seat. The vital issue before the security agencies will be the protection of Jashodaben. As per sources, the Special Protection Group (SPG), which protects the Prime Minister, ex-Prime Ministers and their immediate family members, is discussing the issue of Jashodaben’s security. The SPG virtually takes over the security of the would-be Prime Minister 72 hours before the leader takes the oath, but much before that the drill to gather info on the VIPs and their kith and kin starts. As per sources, the Intelligence Bureau and SPG are working out how if Modi becomes Prime Minister, his family members will be protected......

Top spot the way

Who will be the new Cabinet Secretary of India on June 13? If sources are to be believed, the current incumbent, Ajit Kumar Seth, might get an extension for another year. The reason being given for the extension is that Seth is non-controversial and is an efficient officer with a clean image. Seth, a 1974 batch IAS officer of the Uttar Pradesh cadre, joined as Cabinet Secretary on June 14, 2011, on a two-year tenure. So, as the new government will have little time to select the new Cabinet Secretary, it may choose to extend Seth’s term. But what if his term is not extended? There are many bright officers to choose from. In all probability, the selection will be from among the 1976 to 1978 batches of IAS officers. The senior-most officer is Sutanu Behuria, a 1976-batch IAS officer of the Himachal Pradesh cadre and Secretary, Heavy Industries. From the 1977 batch, a strong contender is Varesh Sinha, an IAS officer of the Gujarat cadre and currently Chief Secretary of Gujarat. Also in the running can be Madhav Lal, a 1977-batch.....