IAS officers become pawns in Andhra Pradesh
Article by Samrajyam Srinivasa Rao (07 October 2007, Sunday )
MD SHAFI KHUJMAN, a senior serving Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer of Andhra Pradesh (AP) cadre has made an angry outburst at the vicious games played with the IAS officers in the state. He has lambasted the state government in the strongest possible terms and accused it of discrimination and official apathy in the posting of a few chosen officials in key and vital positions. The rest, who have fallen from grace and do not enjoy political patronage are shifted to the loop line, which are considered as inconsequential postings. By doing so, he has stated that the state government has thrown time-honoured conventions and norms to the wind. Insults are heaped on honest and upright officers who are not in the good books of the ruling party functionaries resulting in their demoralisation.
Khujman is presently the Chairman of the State Warehousing Corporation (SWC). He had filed an application under the Right to Information Act (RTI) Act and obtained full details of the commissions and omissions of the state government. He has also chronicled a list of irregularities and malpractices related to IAS officers in a lengthy article. Senior leaders and prominent politicians of the ruling party are now seriously agitated and worried about the sensational revelations made in the article sparking off a raging controversy on the subject. Khujman has given a new connotation to the abuse of power, which is symptomatic of the devaluation of moral values and making the IAS ineffective and incapacitated.
It is interesting to note that Khujman sought the permission of the Chief Secretary to publish his article as required under service rules and made the contents public only after the necessary permission had been granted. He had expressed his deep anguish that the intelligentsia, politicians of all hues and journalists have all along been bitter critics of IAS officers, totally unaware of the ground realities. On one hand, the newspapers lament that the top brass of the state administration is unable to muster courage to oppose the lopsided policies of the state government and on the other hand it is the same press finding fault with the very same officers who work ethically. It is true that appointments and transfers are totally controlled by the politicians in power. The higher echelons of the bureaucracy have no say in the matter except to meekly endorse whatever orders percolate down. It has become a routine practice to get plum postings either by abject surrender or by greasing the palms. It is painful that no effort is made to express dissent to this obnoxious procedure.
Khujman has vividly narrated the damage being done to the institution of IAS in his well researched article. According to him, there is a mistaken notion in public minds that as long as the salary of an IAS officer is not affected, he will continue to work in any post. However, giving him the same pay packet, perks and privileges and asking him to serve anywhere is highly distasteful and unsavoury to any self respecting person. What is amusing to him is that unstable governments who are in power today and gone tomorrow are also creating supernumerary posts that serve no purpose at all and are best described as ornamental and dummy.
These officers are not provided even the basic infrastructure and punished for expressing their independent views and desisting sycophancy. In this context, Khujman has referred to a letter addressed to Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, the first Home Minister in free India by Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, the first PM of India after independence on 30 April 1948 that the absence of an all India service machinery would certainly affect the goal of national integration. Further, he had warned that unnecessary interference in the IAS set up, which is highly respected, might damage the foundation of the institution. Khujman also refers to the exhortation made by Vallabhbhai Patel to the fresh recruits of IAS that the Indian Administrative Service has been specially created to provide exemplary service to the country without fear or favour and with impartiality. Many safeguards have been provided to ensure no damage is done to the administrative machinery and parliamentary enactments have been made accordingly. However, some politicians have entered an unholy alliance with crooked officers of questionable integrity and started playing dirty tricks in suppressing the general sentiment. To this end, ex cadre posts have been created that result in heartburn and frustration to sincere officers.
Without mincing words, Khujman lashed out at the state government in respect of these newly created ex cadre posts and said that it is a flagrant violation of the accepted norms set in this regard by the Apex Court and also flouted the service conditions. Strictly speaking, these posts can’t exceed a permissible limit. The upper limit / ceiling is to be pre determined without affecting their status and the responsibilities that go along with the post are to be specified while deciding the postings of IAS officers. Even if such posts are created, their tenure should be restricted to 2 years only at the most as per the statute. With the Union Government’s permission, the period can be extended for another 3 years. It is a shocking revelation that in Andhra Pradesh these ex cadre posts are continued for decades at a stretch. These posts are expected to fully engage the officers with sufficient workload and protecting the salary should not be the sole criterion and they should be assigned with equally important responsibilities like their other counterparts as was emphasized by the Supreme Court of India in many cases, added Khujman.
It is a sad commentary that the AP government has not attached any importance to this serious problem and continued to create ex cadre posts for which officers are posted at different times with utter disregard to their seniority and not befitting their status. The upper limit for ex cadre posts in the state is 42 whereas the number of posts created are more than 100 as per the latest figures.
The shabby and ignominious treatment meted out to some IAS officers can be gauged from the fact that an IAS officer with 34 years of service has been shunted to an insignificant post as the commissioner of a coastal region. He hardly receives 3 files for his disposal in a week. Another senior bureaucrat with 33 years of unblemished service has been assigned the job of making amendments to an existing manual. He receives a single file simply to affix his signature. Some others facing step- motherly treatment are the Chairman, Godavari Valley Authority and Zilla District Gazetters & State Editor. This is ample proof of witch hunting and vindictive attitude of the state government, jettisoning officers based on likes and dislikes, whims and fancies and promoting the interests of a coterie.
It appears that all is not well with the state administration in A.P. The outgoing State Vigilance Commissioner Ramchandra Samal, IAS has submitted a highly inflammable report on the serious corruption charges against several bureaucrats and castigated the state government for its inaction and for shielding the corrupt officials. The enormity and the deep rooted corruption in the state administration can be visualized from the fact an alarming number of about 180 officers of IAS, IPS and IFS (Indian Forest Service) out of a total strength of 800 in the State have been indicted on graft charges by the State Vigilance Commissioner in Andhra Pradesh.
IAS officers become pawns in Andhra Pradesh
Defeat is not final when you fall down. It is final when you refuse to get up.