Gender bias in IPS, IAS: Renuka

By Namrata Biji Ahuja

The government has admitted to a prevailing "gender bias" in government jobs and postings. In a letter addressed to Cabinet Secretary B.K. Chaturvedi, Union women and child development minister Renuka Chowdhary has said that there is "prevailing gender inequality in the services and posts under the Union and states", which "needs to be addressed immediately". The ministry of external affairs, however, has denied that there is "gender bias" in the ministry. This has come in reply to an RTI query forwarded by the women and child development ministry to the MEA on why Ms Veena Sikri and Ms Shashi Tripathi were overlooked by the government for the post of foreign secretary.

The RTI has taken up the issue of India's first woman IPS officer Kiran Bedi, alleging that her posting as commissioner of the Delhi police is deliberately being delayed.

The RTI, filed by Delhi resident Dev Ashish Bhattacharya, has asked the home ministry "under what rules and parameters this lady officer is prevented to give her best services to the residents of Delhi".

In reply, the ministry of home affairs has furnished the list of 10 IPS officers of 1970-1976 batch. Going by the seniority in the list, Dr Kiran Bedi (1972 batch) is next in line for the post of commissioner of the Delhi police once the current Delhi police commissioner, Dr K.K. Paul, of 1970 batch, retires on February 28, 2008. Dr Kiran Bedi is due for retirement on June 30, 2009, which gives her only a year to serve the post of commissioner of the Delhi police.

While Dr Bedi has won support from unexpected quarters, the RTI has also demanded explanation why Ms Reva Nayyar was not considered for the post of Cabinet Secretary.

The Cabinet Secretariat's reply is awaited on the matter.

The government has, meanwhile, maintained that it is incumbent upon the various cadre-controlling authorities to ensure that women officers do not suffer any gender bias in the cadre. Citing the common minimum programme of the UPA government to achieve complete equality for women, Ms Chowdhary’s letter to the Cabinet Secretary last year stated the need to devise an "appropriate plan" to ensure that "all women in the services necessarily be given exposure and made to rotate in all the core sector ministries/departments". "Women civil servants should be posted in all the key sectors of Government as a routine," Ms Chowdhary said in her letter dated July 25, 2006.

Gender bias in IPS, IAS: Renuka