Gfiles’ November issue is a package of diverse issues like unemployment, UP politics, urbanisation, disclosure of black money, the 50th year of Haryana and an interview with former Home Secretary GK Pillai. Unemployment is a major challenge for Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Fast moving developments in the technology world are leading to shrinking job prospects. So what should be done?
November 9, 2016
KK Jalan is a 1982-batch IAS officer of Haryana cadre. An MPhil in Mathematics and Public Administration from Punjab University, Chandigarh. Hard task master, efficient and honest, Jalan was the first IAS officer to serve five districts of Haryana as Deputy Commissioner-Bhiwani, Rewari, Sonepat, Karnal and Faridabad.
Working on the concept of institutional ethics as a possible solution to the menace of corruption in government, the IC Centre for Governance looked around for a value-based organisation in public governance. The search was very tricky, like the proverbial looking for a needle in a haystack. The hunt was as difficult, if not more, as in the corporate sector. Finally, we narrowed down to two government organisations, one of which was the Delhi Metro.
The third UN Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development (UN-Habitat III) convened at Quito, Ecuador, from October 17 to 20, 2016. The aim of this conference was to promote a new model of urban development, integrating sustainability, equity, welfare and shared prosperity. Out of this conference emerged a ‘New Urban Agenda’ that calls for environmentally sustainable and resilient urban development to withstand the unprecedented threats from unsustainable consumption and production patterns, loss of biodiversity, pressure on ecosystems, pollution, natural and man-made disasters and climate change.
The Income Disclosure Scheme (IDS) ended on September 30, 2016 and the gains and losses from it can now be assessed. According to Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, there had been a disclosure of Rs. 65,250 crore income with likely tax mop of nearly Rs. 30,000 crore. There is jubilation about the results, which have been compared to the outcome of VDIS (Voluntary Disclosure of Income Scheme) of 1997 where nearly Rs. 33,697 crore were declared with a tax collection of Rs. 9,760 crore.
The clash of interests in Uttar Pradesh’s Samajwadi family isn’t due to ideological differences. Like in a normal, extended joint family, the clash is for the control of cash. Over the past many years, before the arrival of Akhilesh Yadav in politics, his father Mulayam Singh Yadav and uncle Shivpal built up a system of clientele. Politics for them, like all politicians of every hue and colour, was meant for generating resources through patronage and protection. The resources thus generated were ploughed back into party politics to keep them ahead of their political rivals like the BSP and BJP.
How dare he say that and that too two years ahead of the assembly elections?” fumed a senior RSS leader when a journalist told him about Shivraj Singh Chouhan’s assurance to industrialists from across the globe in the concluding session of the two-day Global Investors Summit (GIS) that concluded on October 23 in Indore. Announcing that the next GIS would be held in February 2019 in Indore, Chief Minister Chouhan assured the delegates that he would preside over the next investors’ meet too.
For the first time any State in the country celebrated its 50th anniversary in such a grand manner like Haryana did on November 1 to mark its Swarna Jayanti Utsav. The event was held at Tau Devi Lal Stadium, Gurugram, in the presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Lavishly praising Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal’s efforts in undertaking several initiatives undertaken by him for the development of the State, Modi gave a pat on his back saying Haryana has the potential to work as a ‘growth engine’ to accelerate the pace of development of the country.
These days the only topic of conversation in the Indian sub-continent and the surrounding SAARC region is Surgery. The last time when surgery was the cause celebre was in ancient India when Sushruta discovered the art of plastic surgery to reconstruct the noses of unfaithful females, cut off by suspicious husbands. The lead was given by the fiery Lakshmana, who did not relish the sexual overtures made by the dusky, Dravidian featured Sroopnakha, the princess of Srilanka, and tried to palm her off on his elder brother, the calm Ramachandra.
When Gopal Krishna Pillai (67) joined as Sub Collector in Kollam (then Quilon) in July 1974, his first job after passing out from Lal Bahadur Shastri National Academy of Admini-stration (LBSNAA), the Indian Administrative Service (IAS) hardly offered a decent lifestyle. Pillai drove to office on his brother’s scooter and lost his first half’s salary because there was a long queue of officers joining that day and his turn came only in the afternoon. For the first two years, he and his wife, Sudha, also a 1972 Kerala cadre IAS, lived from hand-to-mouth.
Despite pricy valuations of Indian market at around 20 times FY17 earnings, most of the analysts I have talked to are not too worried and feel that the market will continue to receive steady flow of funds due to post-monsoon impact, on-demand scenario coupled with Seventh Pay Commission largesse and steadily improving rural incomes, all time high forex reserves, continued emphasis on reforms with GST already on road to implementation, continuation of softer monetary policy of RBI in view of softening inflation in the growth inflation dynamics, and expectations of stability and improvement in corporate earnings as a result of steady growth in GDP.
Traditional health cultures everywhere are founded on a basic premise: that the human organism is naturally geared for health. Since the body is made from within, it is fully capable of setting right most of its internal problems. Whether it is the human body or the cosmic body, both are made up of five elements — earth, water, fire, air and space. Each one of us is made up of the very same building blocks. But what makes each one of us unique? The answer is simple: our software. The five elements in each of us carry their own unique memory imprint.
Varun Gandhi, the grandson of Mrs Indira Gandhi, is the new scapegoat of Indian politics. Even his mother, who is trained in the game of politicking, could not help him this time. Varun was a face for the Chief Minister of UP. Even in BJP, the top leadership was a bit worried with the daring steps he took to claim the leadership. But, then events overtook his efforts. First, he was caught with chickengunia and then there was a honey trap where his photographs were circulated by unknown sources through Whatsapp. This came when opinion polls were indicating he was becoming a leading face of saffron politics in UP. Varun though is undeterred by the dirty political game. In the last two-and-a-half years, he has helped debt-ridden farmers of the State with financial aid of Rs. 18 crore. Interestingly, Rs. 1.5 crore was from his own funds and Rs. 16.5 crore was collected by him in form of charity from local elites. To identify genuinely distressed farmers, he set up three indicators to select the crisis-hit farmers. These included farmers who had defaulted on their loan repayment, whose crops had been destroyed in a row during three crop cycles, and those who had no fixed assets. Subsequently, 3,662 farmers were freed from debt. But, Varun’s team noticed that 15 per cent of farmers freed from debt were again in loan trap. He opted then for a different approach. He decided to make a website having details of such farmers. The site was connected to affluent persons. After touring more than 20 UP districts, Varun analysed that most farmers were burdened with a loan of Rs. 30,000 to Rs. 1.5 lakh. The details were taken from local banks and after investigation a list of beneficiaries was prepared. Consequently, Varun rolled on his mission to provide a house to the needy. Till now he has successfully built more than 100 such houses. But all his good work has today come undone. BJP sources disclosed that for Varun, there seems now no way ahead in BJP. Nobody is sure whether he will be given any responsibility during UP assembly elections.
There was an important meeting convened in the last week of October by Priyanka Gandhi with her party members. Congress leaders Gulam Nabi Azad, Raj Babbar, Sheila Dikshit and Sanjay Singh were present in the meeting. A source revealed that a major topic of discussion was the impact of Rita Bahuguna Joshi’s exit from the Congress in favour of BJP. They also discussed why Rita left the Congress. This revealed some new facts. It was disclosed that Rita was apprehensive of losing to Mulayam Singh’s daughter-in-law, Aparna Yadav, from Lucknow Cantonment in the upcoming assembly election. Allegedly, Aparna is also stated to be in touch with the BJP. Later, the Congress held a Brahmin conference and made Pramod Tiwari’s daughter, Mona Mishra, in charge of it without including or consulting Rita. It is also said that in the ‘Minority Conference’, the party did not allow Rita to enter. Also, it was strategically decided to send major political leaders to those districts through which Rahul Gandhi’s yatra was to pass so that they could interact with the media during the rally. Rita was in charge of Faizabad. When Rahul reached Faizabad, Rita was there to receive him. Sources revealed that Rahul got furious on seeing her and asked her what was she doing there. He also directed her to go back to Lucknow. Rita then decided that she had no future in the Congress and made her way directly to Amit Shah’s house. Rest is history.
Nitin Gadkari not only has a grip on goings on in the BJP, but also within the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways. As he is a businessman turned politician, he has tremendous business acumen. Also, he has very good relations with the media. He knows what to leak in the media, and see the reactions. This helps him not only to gauge people’s perception about various things but also to send message to the right areas. An example of this was when he announced about the ropeway transport system between ‘Dhaula Kuan and Manesar’ in Gurugram, Haryana. The media wanted to know about the details and Gadkari directed them to his PS Vaibhav Dange. The reporters rushed directly to Dange, who was totally unaware of any such plan. Dange contacted the officials of the National Highway Authority to bring relevant files. The official were also bewildered and responded that no such file was being prepared yet and that there is no such plan with the NHAI. Media got flustered, but Gadkari was able to send his message to the right place.
Manohar Lal has travelled a long way in Haryana within two years. He has completed two years as a Chief Minister with flying colours. While the political fraternity was apprehending that he will prove to be a non-starter, he has proved otherwise. He is not only administering the State efficiently but also managing his political opponents so smartly that his detractors are feeling helpless. Even the civil servants are anxious to see his splendid performance as an administrator. He has opened a CM’s window on web where he has addressed millions of complaints of people of the State. Haryanvis file the complaints and action is taken instantly. It’s happening for the first time in Haryana. He has learnt the art of media management too. He called a press conference in Chandigarh on the completion of two years of his government. He announced only 13 out of 50 schemes. Reporters asked him, “Why don’t you announce all 50 schemes”. He replied that newspapers now-a-days don’t have much space to carry all the schemes and I don’t want to get my news to be killed by just mentioning that CM has announce 50 schemes without elaborating on the schemes. He even encouraged reporters to ask questions in local language (read Punjabi) and replied also in Punjabi. On November 1, on Haryana Golden Jubilee Celebrations at Gurugram, even Prime Minister Narendra Modi appeared to be impressed with Manohar Lal for organising a fabulous and memorable ceremony.
Some officers are very sensitive about the prefix before their names if they happen to be a doctor. If any notification by DoPT is issued without prefix, they see to it that it is renotified with correction though it does not change the status of the officer. It happened in the case of Kshatrapati Shivaji, 1986-batch Maharashtra cadre IAS officer, who is India’s new executive director at Manila-based Asian Development Bank (ADB). Twenty-four days after an official order was issued, there was a “partial modification” of the order. In a corrigendum, issued on October 28, which was dubbed as “Most Immediate/Confidential”, it was said that “Shri Kshatrapati Shivaji” should be read as “Dr Kshatrapati Shivaji”. Issued by the establishment office of the DoPT and signed by a deputy secretary-ranked officer, the corrigendum was sent to 20 different offices, including to the offices of the Cabinet Secretary and Principal Secretary to the PM et al, following the usual official procedure. The original order was issued on October 4. Shivaji is a civil engineer with an M Tech degree in building science; he is an MA in economics and also holds two additional degrees—one MBA and another PhD in management. Can an officer be a better performer if he or she holds a PhD degree? And does the government need to write Dr Y or Dr X, moment an officer gets a PhD degree. Instead, the question should be whether the government should really be wasting so much time and effort on such cosmetic efforts. An utter waste, no doubt, to pamper inflated egos and a sense of entitlement! Shivaji must have insisted that a corrigendum be issued, in the hope that his performance and dignity would probably go up after adding the honorific ‘Doctor’. Getting posted as ED, ADB, Manila, is not easy, particularly as the posting should have legitimately gone to a Foreign Service officer. But, the IFS officers don’t serve in States’ districts and thus unable to cultivate politicians. Serving in districts is, therefore, considered more important than serving in foreign countries. This explains why the IFS is no longer considered a sought-after service.
It’s a serious exercise to choose a successor to a serving Chairman of Public Sector Undertaking Banks. The way SBI Chief Arundhati Bhattacharya’s term was extended, it appears the Department of Financial Services does not have a well laid-down plan to appoint the Chairman of a country’s only prime bank. As per the official brief extending her tenure, this will provide continuity at a time when the process of consolidation of SBI subsidiary banks is going on. Earlier this year, the Cabinet gave its nod to the merger of the State Bank of India (SBI), its associate lenders and the Bharatiya Mahila Bank (BMB) that would make the State-owned lender a global-sized bank. But, the reason given for extension of tenure is a misrepresentation of facts. The merger of banks is procedural work; it’s not rocket science which can’t be performed by any other seasoned banker. What was the compulsion of the Department of Financial Services? Arundhati has been very soft to the industrialists who are very close to the present dispensation. She came to the fame in the case of Vijay Mallaya, who owed Rs 9,000 crore to the banks. She was furious and issued statement after statement for the recovery from Mallaya. SBI tops the chart among the banks as far as NPAs are concerned. But, who cares! It’s reported in the banking circles that the extension was an award to Arundhati for keeping quite on Rs 21000-crore loan to absconder Ananda Krishna, the Malaysian-based promoter of Maxis group, who owns the Aircel Telecommunication network in India. The Aircel business is in pipeline to be transferred to a Mumbai-based Industrialist. It’s a business transfer and not a company take over. So the business will move to another owner and company will remain as a skeleton. The assest of the company is spectrum, which is pledged with the bank and the said industrialist is purchasing spectrum only without paying to SBI. Only Arundhati knows how to recover the loan from a skeleton. Keeping quiet and not uttering a word definitely ‘deserves’ an extension!
Diwali is by all means a bonanza festival, especially for Civil Servants of India. Everybody who deals with the government waits for the festive season to meet and greet Civil Servants. Civil Servants also anxiously await the auspicious day to celebrate with those who can’t meet them in their official capacity. Even after Narendra Modi’s taking over as Prime Minister nothing much has changed in the foothills of Raisina. There are many officers who have evolved a mechanism to deal with the palm greaser on Diwali; they have started locking the main gate of their home on the day and the sentry has been informed to brief that ‘sahib is out of town’. Sentry is not authorised to accept flowers and any gifts. The CCTV surveillance in the residence area has created a problem, but the greeters now don’t come in their Mercs; Ola and Uber cabs have helped them to reach the destination without disclosing their identity. This Diwali, one observed another peculiar situation. Senior Civil Servants, who are serving on coveted posts in the Central Government and State governments, evolved a new way to deal with the guests. They informed their sentry to greet the guest and brief them that sahib is clearing important files, or sleeping, or sitting with some very close family friends. The sentry is also told to brief the guest that if he had come with Diwali gifts, he may leave them and they will definitely reach the sahib. As reported to gfiles, some businessmen who personally went to meet the officers avoided handing over the gifts, but those who sent their senior assistants were happy to deliver the gift to the sentry without troubling the sahib.
It was a tough task to organise Haryana’s 50th Year Golden Jubilee Celebrations at Gurugram on November 1. Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal wanted to make it historically memorable, more so as Prime Minister Narendra Modi was inaugurating the celebrations. Manohar Lal needed an officer who could deliver. He chose KK Khandelwal, a 1985-batch IAS officer of Haryana cadre, to lead the organising team. Khandelwal seems to have proved that the Chief Minister was right about his choice. How a senior officer, without making any show, can organise such a gala function is a subject to study. The might of the government was felt in Tau Devi Lal staudim where the function was organised. Khandelwal did everything from producing video films, songs, posters, publicity campaign, designing newspaper advertisements and making arrangements of high standard at the stadium. Haryanvis must not have seen such a colourful, peaceful and entertaining State festival. Khandelwal meticulously planned the show and proved that if an opportunity and authority is delegated to an officer without any interference, he can do wonders. He brought out a well-designed ‘Vision and Ideas’ coffee-table book, which has a roadmap of the year-long celebrations. In the end of the book, the credit carries the line of content advisor as DS Dhesi, the Chief Secretary of Haryana, and the concept by Rajesh Khullar, the Principal Secretary to the Chief Minister, Haryana. Very well educated, Khandelwal wants to maintain a low profile and remain away from the media blitzkrieg. Khandelwal’s working style shows that he wants to prove that Civil Servants are meant to serve the government and that they are performers in the system; also, that they don’t belong to any political group or party and what matters is how political bosses use their wisdom to motivate the available machinery to complete any uphill task. Manohar Lal judiciously using his wisdom against all political odds.