Friday, May 27, 2011

IAS As Newsmakers: For cleaning toilets and having dinner with taxpayers’ money

DURING the last few days, there were a number of media reports, analysis and even edit page opinion pieces on how Faridabad deputy commissioner Praveen Kumar, an IAS officer, cleaned the toilet of a school situated in Old Faridabad of Haryana.
When 51-year-old officer was told that there was no sweeper available in the school, he went home, brought a bucket and broom, and cleaned the toilet in 20 minutes. All including students and teachers were shocked. A national newspaper wrote in its edit page: “What the IAS officer did is a good example of how a few, committed bureaucrats keep intact this great but rapidly corroding steel frame of the nation”. For the record, Indian bureaucracy at times is referred as steel frame of the nation.
People in Faridabad, a satellite town of Delhi, say Kumar is a maverick and a non-comformist, and he responds calls at his mobile phone. Cleaning a public toilet in the land of Mahatma Gandhi is no big deal, but when the person happens to be an IAS officer in a hierarchy and status conscious society, it makes all the difference.
But then comes the part-II of an IAS saga. A Rs 1.5 lakh dinner for 250 IAS officers is not a big deal. But why do they need to pass the bill to the tax payers? The Madhya Pradesh government has come under the scanner of Lokayukta for allegedly organising a free dinner for about 250 IAS officers, mostly serving, with taxpayers’ money, say reports published in local newspapers. The dinner was organized in October last year at a private club by the state chief secretary. Now, everyone is asking: Why should the state government foot the bill for a private dinner?

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