‘Previously IAS officers had more say in selecting Secy to Minister’

NEW DELHI, May 13:
A tough guy as a Secretary for a doubtful minister? There were days when IAS officers had greater say in selecting a secretary for a minister, and could assign a suitable secretary to a minister, former cabinet secretary T S R Subramanian said this at a function to release ex-bureaucrat M K Kaw’s memoirs “An Outsider Everywhere: Revelations by an Insider” here.
“We’d a strong hand in selecting a secretary to a minister. If the minister was ramrod straight then we’d not care much about but if he was doubtful we gave him the toughest guy,” said Subramanian.
Lauding Kaw’s career as a bureaucrat, he raised the issue of moral integrity and the fall of character in the current generation of bureaucrats.
“They say the character of the IAS officers collapsed after the 1961 batch but it remained till 1964(Kaw, being from 1964 batch),” said the former cabinet secretary, in a lighter vein.
Praising the book Subramanian said, “It has a sardonic wit and an understated kind of humour. It’s going to make IAS officers lose their sleep but bureaucrats have become so thick-skinned, I don’t think they would.”
Kaw also believed that somewhere down the line some of the charm and the glamour of this profession was gone and it lost it’s magnetic appeal to draw the youth in, which existed earlier. That is why his next project is about the ‘icons of civil services’, people who were role models for others, he told.
“IAS today has lost some its glamour that existed earlier and if I can restore that glamour and inspire the youth to dream about it, then I think my purpose would be served in writing this memoir,” said the 1964 batch retired Indian Administrative Services (IAS) officer, who originally hails from Kashmir.
Kaw told that writing this book was difficult as not much material was available at hand but that after his first book revealing the “warts and all” of bureaucracy, he wanted to present the fine sights of the service.
“I wanted to present the fine sights of the service so that the future generation could inspire themselves and benefit from it, as the image of the service today has been sullied,” said the writer of ‘Bureaucrazy’ fame who earlier took a tongue-in-cheek look at the life of a bureaucrat.
Senior journalist M K Tikku who was present during the release said, “It is said about 10 per cent of IAS officers are nearly corrupt but less than 10 per cent stand their ground, who can speak their mind irrespective of what the high authority says, and it is in the atmosphere of gloom that this life stands out as a hope for the young generation.”
NC Saxena, member of the National Advisory Council and one of the guest speakers concurred with other guests that the book had episodes where one couldn’t stop laughing.
Recounting his own old experiences about Kaw’s humorous traits and easy-going personality, which he said he brings in the book, Saxena said, “Once, during his address at the Mussorie training academy Kaw had said that good-looking women marry the IAS officers while the not good-looking ones joined IAS, which somewhat got him (Kaw) into trouble with few women in the campus,” leaving the audience laughing.
So, why does this retired civil servant call himself a ‘perpetual outsider’?
“I have always been an outsider. Being a Kashmiri by birth, I spent fifteen year in Himachal Pradesh but for all practical purposes remained a non-Himachali. People who meet me after my spending 37 years in service say I don’t behave like an IAS officer.
“I write poetries yet I do not feel home among the poets. I’m not sure whether I’m an IAS officer who dabbles in poetry or a poet who just earns his bread in the IAS,” he says pointing to the title of his book.
The book is published by Konark Publishers. (PTI)

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