Thursday, February 13, 2014

Why senior IAS Sudhir Krishna chose to complain in writing after getting “humiliated” by P Chidambaram

Sudhir Krishna: Lodging a complaint
A WEEK after urban development secretary and 1977 batch IAS Sudhir Krishna lodged a written complaint against finance minister P Chidambaram for humiliating him in an inter-ministerial meeting, his complaint letter addressed to his boss Kamal Nath, came out in public domain. First, what this Karnataka cadre IAS actually wrote in his letter…
According to reports, the incident of the alleged humiliation took place at a meeting, held last week, to discuss about the central assistance for Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission. The meeting was attended by finance ministry officials including expenditure secretary Ratan P Watal. Watal belongs to Andhra Pradesh cadre and is one batch junior to Krishna in the service.
“As I was trying to explain my point, Hon. Chidambaram suddenly started saying that he could not understand my English and that I should speak in Hindi, which his officers would translate for him in English… He (Chidambaram) repeated the same statement over and over, in a tone and tenor that was expressly humiliating,” Krishna’s letter said. Krishna shot off the letter on the day the incident took place.
Krishna’s letter was reportedly forwarded to Prime Minister for action. But the question is what action the PM can, or will actually take on this matter? Will he admonish his senior colleague Chidambaram, even privately? It’s doubtful.
So, had the letter been not leaked to the media, the matter would have been happily buried, and Krishna’s complaints would have been confined only to a few men in the corridors.
But the episode raises some bigger questions. Are the senior bureaucrats in Delhi sensing a regime change, which effectively means that they don’t need to care about the highhandedness of the present incumbent? Or, will we see more such outbursts in the open in the next one month or so?
Also, will other bureaucrats who have a long tenure in the service left, resort to complaining against senior minister in writing? Krishna, who is retiring in June this year, does not need to worry much on that account.
Originally hailing from Uttar Pradesh, Krishna has served in many an important department, both at the Centre and his state -- Karnataka.
An M.Sc in physics and MA in public administration, Krishna also completed his PhD on federalism from New Delhi-based Jamia Hamdard University.


  1. Whether it is 'Ministers or IAS', they should shed their headstrongness when dealing with the respectables.

  2. Which Uni gave him the Masters in Public Administration - Harvard or Pittsburgh and did they understand his English? His training and expertise in Federal Finances seems to have upset the Mr. Know-all Minister. - A Retired Babu

    1. I have a good idea why Chidambaram said what he said and why Dr. Sudhir Krishna felt offended. First, there's no doubt about Chidambaram's intellect. He's a smart, educated man (possibly, the brightest among Cabinet ministers after Manmohan Singh), a highly respected lawyer and a Harvard MBA. So when he said that Krishna's English has to be "translated," it tells you several things about the Secretary's mastery over the English language: (1) two PG and a Ph.D. degrees notwithstanding, I'd bet he never really learnt to speak and write decent (forget "good") English -- pardon me for saying so, UP is not known as a state that prizes the English language, but actively promotes Hindi; (2) he may have chosen easier subjects for his IAS electives that didn't require much proficiency in English; (3) he may have been fortunate at his IAS viva voce where he could get away with answering questions in Hindi or fractured English; (4) junior levels postings at sub-divisions and districts didn't require writing memos and official notes in English -- Kannada was acceptable or encouraged; (5) promotions to higher positions in the state cadre came not because of competence or capability, but seniority; and finally (6) appointment to the highest GOI rank, again by virtue of longevity and seniority. It's at this stage that he met his Waterloo -- what he had neglected or not cared to learn/improve upon has exposed his vulnerability, an inability to express himself clearly and cogently.
      But there's a silver lining -- he's retiring in a couple of months and is assured of a pension and other perks as long as he lives -- and then his widow gets to enjoy the same. Had he been in the private sector, his career would have been over by the time he reached his late 30s. He should thank the UPSC and GOI and the IAS selection/appointment system for a long innings that has lasted until he is turning 60!

    2. Any logical conclusion can't prove you right.... being smart doesn't help here... the thing is you have ignored the real issue...

    3. I had Sudhir Krishna as a student in a Masters class at Carnegie Mellon in the 1990s. There is absolutely nothing the matter with his spoken English.

      I can only infer that Dave Dasgupta has never heard Sudhir speak. The statements about his "fractured" English are wrong. They seem to reflect personal animus.

  3. Yes attitude of persons may not change whether they are educated in Harvard or Stanford.He is an example of a typical Indian politicians who thinks they are above every one else and probably this IAS babu did not comply with him on some matter previously

  4. Better to hush up the matter. This can lead to lot of acrimony regarding language, North-South etc. Things that can get out of hand.

  5. Some Ministers are educated illiterate . In my opinion Mr. chidambaram hear loudly he should purchase a hearing machine.
    why he don't understand by a senior officer whose carrier was excellent. becomes IAS in just 24 Yrs. Ex Dy. Director IAS Academy from 1990-93. Presently urban Sec. & 4 metro chairman with excellent track record. his brother was also a senior IPS 1973 Mr. Sunil Krishna joined in just 21 yrs retd as D.G. Human RIGHTS retd. 1912.

  6. Sudhir Krishna humiliated the DG CPWD. All the time CPWD Engineers doing some expensive repair work or another in his house or his freinds house. If DG tell him it is not allowed in rule. Specification is allowed only to Minister he gets angry. Chidambaram is senior Minister, if he speaks out truth what is wrong?Sudhir Krishna issued chargesheet on last day of retirement to Controllor of Publications. Retirement Farewell party was on when Chargesheet was handed over. Why on last day ? because of indecisiveness of Ministry of Urban Development headed by Sudhir Krishna. He is not concerned about other peoples humiliation.

  7. Chidambaram is a snob with poor credentials. His english is good but convoluted.
    But his biases are too obvious--anti-hindi, anti-UP.

    He had no business insulting any officer at an inter-departmental or even one-to-one meetings.

    Sudhir Krishna Secretary Min of Urban Development, acted appropriately as an officer. He chose not to take things lying down.Let the eggheads of India unite against the political class.

    I understand that several Secretaries hold grudge against Chiddu for being impertinent at meetings.

    The PM cannot help.He is the last among Equals.If he admonishes PC, he could get a dressing down from 10-Janpath.

    He is a SARDAR ,but, not ASARDAR !!!
    Krishna’s protest to Cab Secy and Kamal Nath may not help due to high stature of Thiru Chidambaram Be that as it may, such ministerial shenanigans are on the increase, of late.
    What has happened to the steel frame of bureaucracy?
    Why are Cabinet Secretary and Pulok Chatterjee,Pr Secy to PM,sorry, super PM at 10 Janpath, reticent about this

    A K SAXENA (A retired civil servant)

    1. unfortunately bureaucrats have become literally become babus....they should not only be humiliated but should be thrased not only by politicos but even general public. most of them enjoy & care alittle for the country...they are far more responsible for corruption in this country

      see, they have played all kind of games to downgrade & demoralise the Armed Forces....They must ROT....