Thursday, December 7, 2023

Monday Mirchi: Caught in the clash of Titans

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In a classic case of victimisation, two senior IAS officers found themselves being kept in the loop line during the recent minor reshuffle of bureaucrats in Andhra Pradesh. It all started with a case of HoD vs Principal Secretary drama in the same department. The government, known for its love of drama, decided to take action by giving these two a rollercoaster ride on the transfer merry-go-round. Senior IAS officer G Vani Mohan, the Secretary of Youth, Tourism, Sports, and Culture, got a one-way ticket to the Commissioner of Archeology and Museum. But wait, there’s more! Her junior, K Harshavardhan, who had the exciting title of MD, Sports Authority of AP (SAAP), found himself magically transformed into the Secretary of the AP SC Commission. Meanwhile, the other two officers, PS Pradumna and HM Dhyana Chandra, probably feeling left out, got a promotion of sorts—full additional charge of their posts. So, while some were on a bureaucratic rollercoaster, others got to ride the elevator to nowhere.

Proto‘call’ dilemma for bureaucrats
In this age of smartphones and WhatsApp messages, where contacting ministers and bureaucrats is as easy as ordering pizza, it’s quite amusing that some officials are still clinging to the old ways of protocol. You know, the whole “Call the Peshi, set up an appointment, and the conventional process of back and forth phone calls” routine. A little bird said that when a media person recently got in touch with a bureaucrat, the officer said this is not the process to call an officer, First, call the Peshi landline, talk to them, and then figure it out. This bureaucrat received a two-year extension in service. Now, media circles are left scratching their heads, wondering if the bureaucrat wanted to talk or not. Bureaucrats these days have a variety of responses to such calls. They might actually answer, politely request you to send a text, ignore your calls altogether, or generously hand over their assistant’s number for scheduling purposes. It’s like playing a game of bureaucratic roulette! Honestly, most of the new-age bureaucrats couldn’t care less about the ‘protocol’. In fact, they’re not even interested in touching the ground, let alone answering phone calls.

Language bug bites him hard
Dr. G Srinivas Rao, the once media darling during the Covid era, seems to have caught a case of linguistic lockdown fatigue! After months of back-to-back press conferences, he’s suddenly decided that English isn’t on his menu anymore. When a brave reporter dared to ask for an English byte during a recent presser, he quipped, “This isn’t a national issue!” It seems like Dr. Rao has gone full Telugu mode since his controversial election campaign in Kothagudem. Maybe he’s secretly hoping for a cameo in a Telugu movie? Meanwhile, amidst all this linguistic drama, Vanama Venkateswara Rao and Jalagam Venkat Rao are having a heated showdown over who gets the coveted BRS title. But our dear ‘Dr. Public Health’ isn’t giving up on his dreams either! He’s taken his campaign to the streets, going door-to-door, probably hoping to secure some votes for the most sought-after title in town.

Musharaff, the liquor licencing wizard!
Excise Commissioner Musharaff Faqurui seems to be the luckiest guy in town! In these cash-strapped times, he’s pulled off a magical feat, raking in a jaw-dropping Rs 2,629 crore from liquor licence applications. And the best part? He didn’t even have to raise the application rates or run flashy ads! That’s a cool Rs 1,300 crore more than the last time. You see, Musharaff has always been a top performer in the bureaucratic world, from GHMC Zonal Commissioner to Nirmal Collector. Now, everyone’s gossiping about how he’ll handle things during elections when they need to cut down on the booze flow. It’s like he’s got a magic wand hidden in his desk drawer! Cheers to Musharaff, the liquor licencing wizard!

Raring for a political splash
In a hilarious twist, some Babus are eyeing a leap from bureaucracy to politics. Retired IAS Vijay Kumar and former DGP Dinesh Reddy from BJP are among the contenders. While bureaucrats-turned-politicians aren’t uncommon, the real question in the power corridors is, “Can they pull it off?” Babus entering politics have a track record as impressive as a one-legged kangaroo in a hopping contest. Buzz is that it might take eons to figure out if they can achieve the changes as politicians that they couldn’t as top bureaucrats. In the meantime, we’ll be here, sipping tea and watching these Babus attempt the political high dive, hoping they make a bigger splash than a teaspoon in a swimming pool.

Of action and reaction
Smita Sabharwal, a senior IAS Officer in the Telangana Chief Minister’s Office (CMO), is like a Twitter tornado. She follows everything her boss, CM KCR, does – not just in the administrative world, but also in the wild world of politics. It’s no secret that KCR and the BJP are like oil and water. The BJP, always on the lookout for a good controversy, keeps a keen eye on her tweets. When Smita decided to share her two cents on the Manipur incident, a puzzled BJP leader Raghunandan Rao, asked, “Why do you only react to incidents in BJP-land and ignore our Telangana troubles?” But here’s the twist – Smita’s reactions mostly belong to BJP-ruled states. The BJP folks claim she’s just parroting her boss, but the IAS honchos have a different theory. They say no officer can criticise their own government, so Smita has to hunt for incidents elsewhere. Of course, the irony is most of these incidents happen in BJP-ruled states.

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