Thursday, June 02, 2011

How a non-IAS can become a mover and shaker in power corridors, demonstrates Sudhir Chandra

IF YOU are an IAS, you automatically hold positions of immense importance. But you may not necessarily need to be an IAS to influence the system and implement things the way you wanted. Outgoing CBDT chairman Sudhir Chandra has demonstrated how an allied service officer can emerge as an independent power center, an implementer of big ticket ideas and a real mover and shaker in corridors of power.
In his written farewell message to fellow IRS-IT officers dated May 31, 2011, Chandra said, “As a service we are not emerging, we have already emerged”.
During his five months stint as chairman of the direct tax body, Chandra took up issues which an ordinary bureaucrat would like to pass quietly. He decided to refund dues of lakhs of taxpayers in the country in the current fiscal year itself and forced his juniors to work on Sundays. The result: over 32 lakh taxpayers were surprised to find their money in their bank accounts. And Rs 30,000 crore was disbursed in the months of April and May alone.
It was not easy task as many finmin honchos wanted to block the initiative citing reasons of overdraft and fiscal deficit. But, can you rein in fiscal deficit by holding on tax payers’ dues, Chandra fought back.
Despite odds, Chandra was instrumental in fighting against the menace of black money and the I-T department seized unaccounted money worth Rs 30,000 crore in the last two years. The IRS-IT officers’ role during the last assembly elections was appreciated by none other than chief election commissioner SY Quraishi in a letter dated May 23, 2011.
But what’s about the accountability of his own I-T officers who go for raids and surveys? Chandra who came into prominence as Member (Investigation) issued an order in May this year saying that survey teams visiting taxpayer’s premises would, before the commencement of survey proceedings, provide to the taxpayer the names, designations and contact numbers of their chief commissioner, commissioner and additional or joint commissioner of Income Tax. And he sent a written message to his fellow IRS-IT officials saying it was necessary to “bring transparency in survey operations and obviate the possibility of any grievance to the taxpayers”.
But it was not a smooth journey for Chandra. Many objected to his declaring independence when CBDT and CBEC chairmen (at the rank of special secretary) were firmly placed under revenue secretary who is always an IAS. A high-powered committee of secretary had recommended striking down of CBDT’s powers on phone tapping after the Niira Radia episode. On his last day as chairman, Chandra told reporters with pride that CBDT’s phone tapping powers remained intact.
For Chandra, the bottom-line is clear: IRS officers are definitely not children of lesser God!


  1. A man like Sudhir Chandra has shown that the powers available to the CBDT & the IT Department are immense if used judiciously & pro actively. There is no short cut to hard work. I have seen him work till late at night & on holidays. The department will lose by his absence. The other bureaucratic set up will be happy. Such independent & active persons are rare in a bureaucratic set up like the IT Department. He has done wonders in only 5 months.

  2. The IAS has misused its proximity to the powers that be for decades.While countries like the USA & UK etc have long realized the importance of revenue services like Income Tax, in India, the service has been denied many growth opportunities, legitimate powers, status & independence. Sudhir Chandra was dynamic & sought to let the IRS grow. In the process he antagonized many in the all powerful IAS.

  3. The IAS through the DOPT has given an incentive allowance of 25% of their basic pay to its own cadre posted in the NER w.e.f. February 2008. They have denied this allowance to the Central Services.

    The strange thing is that once allocated to a cadre, the AIS officers have no option but to perforce work in the NER. For the Central Services officers however, they have an option to seek postings elsewhere other than the NER. So it is the Central Service Officers who should be given the 25% allowance so as to attract officers. However, in their wisdom, the IAS lobby has ensured that this benefit or incentive is allowed only to the AIS Officers.

    Most unfair & discriminatory since all government Officers work in the same uncertain environment of law & order problems in the NER & remoteness from the mainland.

  4. It is good that they had tapped the phone calls in order to ensure the perfect information first.