Thursday, December 7, 2023

Monday Mirchi: CEO keen on maintaining clean image

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Given today’s cut-throat politics, conducting elections in a free and fair manner, and that too carrying along all parties, is not an easy task. There is a learning curve ahead and a litany of past mistakes that must be unlearned. Telangana Chief Electoral Officer Vikas Raj is too vigilant to draw any negative criticism. He mends slippages in official activities post-haste. Recently when an issue was raised by a political party over the dire need for correction of voters’ lists, three press notes were released back-to-back — two from the offices of DEOs of Hyderabad and Rangareddy and one from the CEO’s office. In the 2018 elections, then CEO and now Irrigation Secretary Rajat Kumar had attracted negative publicity over deletion of voters and embroiled in controversies. Vikas Raj seems to have avoided those pitfalls by sanitising the ecosystem. In fact, his office shows distinct signs of learnings also from the recent Bengaluru and West Bengal elections.

Vacation benchmarks set by Srijana
Some babus hanker after junkets to foreign nations in the garb of studies. Others plan a vacation at their own cost. Millennial bureaucrats seem to be setting benchmarks when it comes to vacationing with family. A scroll through Collector & District Magistrate Kurnool Srijana Gummalla’s profile would indicate the tastes and preferences of a typical millennial vacation. This bureaucrat sets pleasant standards for peers: French Riviera, Paris, Monaco et al. A peek into Srijana’s profile is like a breath of fresh air, especially for those longing for a vacation. The accent is also on recording memories of quality time during the vacation; so, the officer always gets the poses right with her son Vihaan and advocate husband Raviteja.

Approvers did not expect this twist in scam
“When elephants fight, it is the grass that suffers,” goes an African proverb. The political ramifications of the Andhra Pradesh Skill Development Corporation scam case, which has taken a curious turn, have made certain bureaucrats nervous. For, a few IAS officers have turned approvers and they include two officers who are on good terms with AP Chief Minister Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy. That apart, classified information was reportedly leaked to the government. Even the noting on confidential files were reportedly shared. Most of the babus did not expect that ex-CM Chandrababu Naidu will be arrested or that the case will go to this extent. Now there is fear among these bureaucrats on the consequences of a regime change. So, should the government change, they intend to take VRS. Newbies must know that even to take VRS, they need government permission.

Who is TS CMO head?
If a ‘team’ comprises many members who look equally important; then it is difficult to figure out who is the head and who all are figureheads. Right now, inquisitive babus are clueless on who is calling the shots when it comes to bureaucrat transfers in Telangana. For, the CMO has thrown up an element of surprise with many big wigs at work. Is Narasing Rao still the man who, though retired, is Principal Secretary? The corridors of power are buzzing with queries on who is the go-to person for posting, changes in posting among IAS officers. Normally, they need to head for the CMO head and that is a mystery. There are Secretaries, including Smita Sabharwal and Rajashekar Reddy. For newbies, every govt will have CMO head. Is Narasing Rao still the man, despite being in the august company of Somesh Kumar, Rajiv Sharma, and all the other big people designated as advisors?

Reflection over Sameer’s thoughts on time management
It is one thing to offer advice and follow it to the letter while in service and quite another to pontificate in a reflective mood. Sameer Sharma seems to have finally got time to give a piece of advice on time management to civil servants. In his blog, he wrote that he often observed that civil servants become overly busy by prioritising urgent tasks over important ones, even if the latter offers more significant long-term rewards. The whispers in the corridors of power are that he never shared this bit of wisdom in a timely manner when he was in service to really help bureaucrats. Of course, the view from outside is different from the ringside view while chairing next to HCM.

When babus help skeletons in the cupboard tumble
Skeletons in the cupboard tumble when powerful babus’ feuding continues ad nauseum, often dragging powerful politicians in their designs. A case in point is the unending clashes between retired bureaucrats former AP chief secretary Ajeya Kallam and former AP special chief secretary PV Ramesh. During their service in the AP government both had serious differences so much so that they avoided facing each other even during official meetings. The latest twist to the AP Skill Development Department scam that took place during the Chandrababu regime has reignited their passion to settle scores. In his statement, PV Ramash created a sensation and on based on it AP CID officials have named CM Chandrababu as an accused in the scam. PV Ramesh made allegations also against Ajeya Kallam. Ramesh claimed that Ajeya Kallam had ignored the objections and suggestions made by him regarding the implementation of the skill development project and accepted the note sent by the government. Naturally, babus are watching keenly to know what next from the other side!

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