Monday, April 16, 2012

Home secretary RK Singh fumes; warns officers not to hobnob with embassies

Is Home Secretary RK Singh Angry?
UNION home secretary RK Singh has asked secretaries of various departments to restrain bureaucrats from hobnobbing with foreign embassies in India. The fear? A few bureaucrats were already “cultivated” by foreign service nationals or embassy officers.
Singh’s letter as quoted by a report in Hindustan Times said that those officials would be dealt with. But who are those officials?
Singh’s letter dated April 3, 2012 did not contain any such example, but clearly indicated that the home ministry had specific details about Indian officers seeking “personal favours” from those of foreign embassies and high commissions. Singh has now asked secretaries of various departments “to advise all the officials to strictly follow the extant rules and guidelines”. The Hindustan Times gave an interesting headline to its story published on Monday. It said: “After honey traps, babus fall for fellowships”.
It’s however not the first time that the government is worried about its officers being possibly influenced by foreign nationals. The government in September 2009, had issued a circular stating that no officer was allowed to raise fund or ask for contribution from any source to finance his or her study without prior government permission. Even three years ago, a number of cases cropped up where officers were spotted negotiating with private companies to sponsor their foreign studies. The home ministry then stepped in and announced such an act was a complete no no.
The home ministry for sometime even banned Indian government officials taking up British government-funded Chevening scholarship, considered to be a prestigious tag in one’s career. The ministry probably realized it was a mistake and in January, 2010, the restrictions were lifted. “The Ministry of Home Affairs has now decided to lift the restriction imposed on the grant of permission under Section 9 of FCRA (Foreign Contribution Regulation Act) for accepting foreign hospitality offered by the Chevening Fellowship,” a circular dated January 19, 2010 said.
Yes, the officers getting carried away by foreign nations' agenda need to be punished, but the questions may also arise whether keeping Indian officers ghettoised by rules and guidelines may do more harm in the long run. After all, it is often noticed that the officers coming back from foreign courses show more enterprise, try to be innovative and convince no-changers in implementing out-of-the-box ideas.


  1. Indian bureaucrats should rather hobnob more. There is nothing wrong. Only thing is that those who have misused that should be booked. But a blanket ban on Indian officials mixing up with foreign nationals and officers is a retro step.

  2. During the internal security meet of CMs in New Delhi recently, home secretary RK Singh was seen sitting next to JD (U) leader and Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar. By the way, hobnobbing with CMs across parties is healthy. Fine. Anyway, Singh is a Bihar cadre IAS. Joined as IPS first, then moved to IAS.
    You need to be careful only in Mamata's Bengal. First check whether any CPM guy is sitting next to you!

  3. Unfortunately, RK Singh’s mentality goes back to the dark days of Congress under Indira Gandhi when every problem was created by “imperialists”, “CIA”. Singh is stuck in 20th century. Yes, officers have to be cautious, ethical, morally upright, loyal to the nation and to the Constitution, patriotic, follow all rules and regulations, and legally aware what they can do and what not. Within constraints, many Indian officers have worked excellently.