Monday, September 19, 2011

Cabinet secretary AK Seth turns unusually proactive in post-Sikkim earthquake

AS an earthquake measuring a 6.8 magnitude jolted many parts of India mainly North Eastern state of Sikkim on Sunday afternoon, cabinet secretary AK Seth and his team swung into action and even took the route of 24X7 news channels to reach people immediately. Seth has never given an interview after he took over as cabinet secretary on June 14, 2011. Nor did he break his silence even during the tense days arising out of Anna Hazare’s fast. But on Sunday, he was freely speaking with a number of news channels and taking volley of questions from anchors.
Also, Seth urgently convened a meeting of the crisis management group and rushed specialized teams for rescue, relief and medical operations from Delhi. Also, Army and Air Force were mobilized immediately. The meeting chaired by Seth was attended by secretaries of defence, home, health and information and broadcasting, among others.
The question is: is it a one-off instance, or will we continue to see a highly proactive Seth? Also, how will Seth handle situations after his batch-mate Pulok Chatterji, a Sonia Gandhi confidante, takes over as principal secretary to PM. 

Police promotions could be linked with training, says PM
Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh has suggested that promotion of police personnel could be linked to training as it is done in case of Army. He was speaking at the annual conference of DGPs in New Delhi recently. This year also happens to be the 150th year of the passing of the Police Act. Some excerpts:

* Police personnel must also be adequately trained to upgrade their professional skills and inculcate the right attitude towards the public. Promotions could be linked with training, as is done in the Army. Modules on white-collar crimes and cyber crimes will become increasingly important as these types of crimes become more salient.
* Shortage of manpower is a problem and we are trying to address it on a war footing. At the meeting of the National Integration Council last week, the need for a well-trained and equipped force to deal with riots was underscored. The Rapid Action Force has been discharging such a function with distinction.
* The job of a constable is arduous and hazardous. Currently, the constabulary is over-stretched and asked to perform multifarious duties. Many of them find it difficult to get suitable accommodation and are even forced to live in slum areas. All our police stations do not provide basic facilities for women constables. It is not realistic to expect high levels of efficiency unless proper attention is paid to the living and working conditions of our men and women in the police forces.
* Our country recently witnessed an outpouring of public anger against corruption. A life in the service of the people is a noble calling, particularly so for those charged with the responsibility of securing life and liberty of our citizens. People who enlist themselves for such a task must take pride in their ability to honestly discharge their duties.

Action and Appointments
a) The ACC has approved the appointment of Sudhir Vyas, a 1977 batch Indian Foreign Service officer as secretary (ER) in the ministry of external affairs in place of Manbir Singh, an IFS who is retiring on September 30, 2011.
b) Ms Zohra Chatterjee, a 1979 batch UP cadre IAS, presently Member Secretary, National Commission for Women, has been appointed as additional secretary in the ministry of coal in place of Alok Perti, a 1977 batch Assam cadre IAS.

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