Name Change A Style Statement?
At least five IAS officers were permitted to change their names during the year. Tamil Nadu cadre IAS officer F Innocent Divya is now J Innocent Divya whereas S Prabakharan has become S Prabhakar. And the government permitted union additional secretary-ranked officer and 1983 batch West Bengal cadre IAS Bhaskar Chandra Khulbe to drop his middle name, "Chandra".
When a Neta Humiliates a Babu
In February, 2014, the then urban development secretary (now retired 1977 batch IAS) Sudhir Krishna lodged a written complaint against the then finance minister P Chidambaram for humiliating him in an inter-ministerial meeting. “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,” the officer said in a complaint letter to his minister, a copy of which was reportedly sent to the then PM.
The Day DoPT Forgot Arunachal's Existence
The government’s personnel department DoPT usually takes extra care in preparing its circulars. Those go through several layers to avoid possible mistake. But BoI spotted that in one such office memorandum dated March 21, 2014, it was mentioned that there would be Lok Sabha polls in the entire country, assembly polls in Andhra Pradesh, Odisha and Sikkim and bye elections to legislative assemblies of some states. But assembly polls in Arunachal Pradesh found no mention in the sarkari circular! For the record, the North-Eastern state of Arunachal Pradesh is often claimed by China as its own. The DoPT office memorandum was related to closing of Central government offices in connection with general elections to the Lok Sabha and state legislative assemblies and bye elections to legislative assemblies during 2014.
Model Hasleen Kaur’s Address to BabusOn February 28, top finance ministry officials were camping at Surajkund at the outskirts of Delhi, as a part of the annual retreat. Guess, who all were celebrity guests of the day? Model and former first runner-up at Femina Miss India Hasleen Kaur and ace shooter Gagan Narang shared their ideas at a session on “Vision for India”.
A Railway Officer Turns a Driver
During the year, BoI carried a number of unusual photos to tell the corridor’s stories. But the one taken on a Delhi street by an unknown sarkari photographer, however, stood out. In that, Railway Board chairman and 1976 batch Indian Railways Service of Mechanical Engineers officer Arunendra Kumar was seen driving a 100-year-old John Morris Fire Engine, one of the priceless possessions of Indian Railways. That Fire Engine was once owned by the Nizam of Hyderabad, and is now maintained at the National Rail Museum.
Who Says Peons Are Less Powerful?
Finally, here is a thought of the day. In the annual BoI Most Powerful Bureaucrat List, Mr Peon found a place, for the first time. Many thought, it was a joke. But it wasn’t. Those who know the government functioning well, will tell you how everyone from a peon to the cabinet secretary has a sense of pride that he or she works with the Government of India, or for that matter a particular state government. If a letter comes to an officer, it is the peon who signs and receives it. And that’s where he draws his power, and also the responsibility. After all, the letter that he receives, could be of immense importance to his officer, to his minister and also to the nation.
And none other than the Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi mentioned about the power of peons in his August 15 speech to the nation: "The people in the government are very capable - from the peon to the cabinet secretary, everybody is capable, everybody has a power, they have experience. I want to awaken that power…”.
BoI wishes all its readers Happy New Year, 2015.