Skip to main content

Is Modi administration in grip of 'trusted' Gujarat cadre officials? Facts suggest otherwise

Modi with IAS officials during his Gujarat days
By Rajiv Shah
Recently, I was forwarded an article, published in “The Print” which, making the appointment of PD Vaghela, a 1986-batch Gujarat cadre IAS official, as chairman of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) as the peg, to suggest that, six years on, the Modi government in Delhi “is in the grip of IAS, IPS, IRS officers from Gujarat”. I don’t know much about IPS and IRS officials, but as for IAS bureaucrats, including Vaghela, with whom I used to interact during stint in Gandhinagar, suggests the article appears to have gone largely overboard. 
The article suggests that Vaghela, who is allegedly “a trusted hand of PM Modi, is known to have played a crucial role in the rollout of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) in 2017, and also served as the commissioner of commercial tax in his home state.” He replaces RS Sharma, “who enjoyed a five-year tenure, and Nripendra Misra, who went on to become the Prime Minister’s closest and most trusted civil servant for five years from 2014 to 2019.”
Yet another example it gives is of GC Murmu, recently put as head of the government audit body, the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India -- a position he can occupy till 2025. Previously with Modi in the Gujarat chief minister’s office, as Prime Minister Modi took Murmu to Delhi to be made secretary, department of expenditure, after which, on retirement, he was shifted as the first lieutenant governor of the newly-formed union territory of Jammu and Kashmir. 
Then, it says, the Central Electricity Regulatory Commission (CERC), another important regulatory body, is headed by a retired IAS bureaucrat from Gujarat, PK Pujari, who has held the post since 2018, adding, in 2019, Rita Teaotia, one more Gujarat-cadre officer (1981 batch), was appointed as chairperson of the Food Safety Standards Authority of India (FSSAI).
As for these particular regulatory bodies, one can possibly agree with what the article states. However, when it comes to the Modi government as a whole, one wonders if the article shouldn’t stand scrutiny. As one senior IAS bureaucrat told me, “The person who wrote this it appears to have been briefed by a disgruntled official who is on deputation from another state”. Another insisted, “The percentage of Gujarat cadre IAS officials serving in the Central government is considerably low compared to several other key states.”
No doubt, the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) does have a few Gujarat cadre officials. It is headed by PK Misra, a retired 1972-batch officer from the state, known to have served Modi faithfully ever since the 2002 Gujarat riots. Yet, the fact is, two of the Gujarat cadre IAS officials, who previously worked in PMO, have shifted out of PMO. Thus, Modi’s private secretary, Rajeev Topno (1996 batch), has gone to the World Bank, while another, AK Sharma (1988 batch), who served as additional secretary in PMO, was shifted in April as MSME secretary, surely not a “key” ministry.
No doubt, Hardik Shah, a promotee IAS official, who is known to have served Modi, and is rumoured to be the real author of a Modi book on environment, “Convenient Action” (2010), which critics said reads like a collection of Gujarat government pressnotes, is Modi’s new private secretary. Shah was secretary, Gujarat Pollution Control Board (GPCB), and went to Central deputation in 2017 as private secretary to the Union ministers of environment, forest and climate change.
However, when the article mentions the name of Sanjay Bhavsar as “Modi’s shadow” just because he serves as officer on special duty (OSD) since 2014, one wonders whether it is the reason enough to state that he is important for Modi. No doubt a trusted Modi man, ever since his Gujarat days,his job apparently continues to be the same: just to “fix” political appointments for Modi. He was recently promoted to IAS. Then there is Hiren Joshi, a non-IAS, who handles Modi's personal online communications, a job which he has doing since his Gujarat days.
As for postings outside the PMO, Gujarat cadre officials do not figure prominently in most of the major ministries – ranging from finance and home to home and defence, not excluding ministries which could be called key: health, commerce, environment, corporate affairs, agriculture, fertiliser, electronics and information and technology, water resources, shipping, and so on.
The only “important” postings occupied by Gujarat cadre officials include that of K Srinivas of the 1989 batch, who is secretary to the Appointments Committee of Cabinet, which decides the appointments to all the top posts in the Government of India; Anita Karwal, secretary, school education, in the ministry of education; RP Gupta, special secretary in the Niti Aayog; and Guruprasad Mahapatra, secretary, Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT). All of them are talented administrators, and are in Delhi as part of his career requirement.
What appears necessary to investigate for those covering the Modi government's administration is, whether Modi’s (and RSS’) long-time dream, of seeking to undermine India’s IAS bureaucracy, is being implemented at all and how, if at all. When in Gujarat, Modi even appointed a one-person committee to find out whether this is possible under the chairmanship of VRS Cowlagi, who in his report suggested how this could be done. But is he successful, given the fact that you need administrative talent, which only IAS officials, as of today, possess?

Comments

TRENDING

Musician and follower of Dr Ambedkar? A top voilinist has this rare combination!

Some time back, a human rights defender, Vidya Bhushan Rawat, who frequently writes for Counterview, forwarded to me a video interview with Guru Prabhakar Dhakade, calling him one of India's well known violinists.  Dhakade is based in Nagpur and has devoted his life for the Hindustani classical music. A number of his disciples have now been part of Hindi cinema world in Mumbai, says Rawat. He has performed live in various parts of the country as well as abroad. What however attracted me was Dhakade's assertions in video about Dr BR Ambedkar, India's undisputed Dalit icon. Recorded several years back at his residence and music school in Nagpur, Dhakade not only speaks candidly about issues he faced, but that he is a believer in Dr Ambedkar's philosophy. It is in this context that Dhakade narrates his problems, even as stating that he is determined to achieve his goal. A violinist and a follower of Ambedkar? This was new to me. Rarely do musicians are found to take a

Dad, we only wish the world was deserving of a brave and honest man like you!

Reproduced below is an open letter to jailed former IPS officer Sanjiv Bhatt by his daughter and son Aakashi and Shantanu Sanjiv Bhatt. Bhatt is in Palanpur Jail after being awarded life imprisonment by a Jamnagar sessions court in 2019 for a custodial death way back in November 1990. Known to have said, Narendra Modi as chief minister directed Gujarat cops to allow Hindus to vent their anger, Bhatt was suspended in 2011 for allegedly remaining absent without permission and misuse of official vehicles, and thereafter sacked in August 2015. *** Dearest Dad, Today, as you complete 58 glorious years of your life, we wish we could hug you to never let go and smother you with wishes and love, while you celebrated your birthday surrounded by friends and family. There was a time, not too long ago, when each birthday was celebrated as a wonderful year gone by, and an open armed welcome to the new exciting year ahead; however, today as we stand here, staring into the abyss of the last 3 years,

President Vladimir Putin! Act now! History will record you for ushering in peace

Dr David Leffler, a Ph.D. in Consciousness-Based Military Defense, who has served as an Associate of the Proteus Management Group at the Center for Strategic Leadership, US Army War College, and currently, serves as the Executive Director at CAMS and lectures, has been propagating what he calls Invincible Defense Technology (IDT) as a means to bring about peace amidst warring nations. Writing in the same vein, here is tells Russian President Vladimir Putin to permanently keep his warriors on Ukraine border: *** President Vladimir Putin! You are amassing (soon perhaps) up to 175,000 Russian military personnel on Ukraine's border. Are you afraid that Ukraine and Georgia will become NATO members, threatening Russia's sovereignty? The presence of these Russian troops is triggering a response within the international community that could easily become volatile. Tensions are also simultaneously rising between the US and other countries such as China, North Korea and Iran. These hots

Threat to PM's life completely concocted, he shouldn't make irresponsible statements

"BJP protesters were closest to PM's convoy" Farmers call PMO lie: The Samyukta Kisan Morcha on the events related to the visit of the Prime Minister to Punjab on 5th January: *** 1. On receiving the news of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's proposed visit to Punjab on January 5, 10 farmer organizations affiliated to the Samyukta Kisan Morcha had announced a symbolic protest for the arrest of Ajay Mishra Teni and other outstanding demands. For this purpose, programs of protests and effigy burning were announced at village level across Punjab on January 2 and at district and tehsil headquarters on January 5. There was no program to stop the Prime Minister's visit or obstruct his program. 2. As per the pre-determined schedule, peaceful protests were held at every district and tehsil headquarters of Punjab on 5th January. When some farmers were stopped by the police administration from going to the district headquarters of Ferozepur, they protested by sitting on the

How can truth prevail when education system makes one ignorant even about 1+1=2?

In an email alert distributed by janvkalp@googlegroups.com, Prof CK Raju, an Indian computer scientist, mathematician, educator, physicist and polymath, has argued that former colonial societies and their rulers have “accepted” the false history of science, including mathematics, distributed by the church, whose power comes from myths and superstitions. *** Truth presupposes knowledge, which depends on the education system. During colonialism the church captured the education system worldwide. Church power comes from myths and superstitions. Through its capture of the education system, the church is able to instil those myths and superstitions in the minds of children worldwide. This enables it to indoctrinate impressionable young children for 15 to 20 years. People expected only religious propaganda from the church. But the unexpected trick was that the church captured our education system by using a false history of science, which it initially erected during the Crusades. For examp

Post-Balakot 9% increase in support to Modi; "not" BJP or Amit Shah: An Ahmedabad view

By Rajiv Shah Elections were over, and Prime Minister Narendra Modi had already won a landslide, yet the poll fever seemed to continue unabated among the middle classes of Ahmedabad. Ordinary citizens of Ahmedabad, called Amdavadis, are quite sparing when it comes to bets. They ensure that they do not splurge. One of the bets that I came across on the D-day, May 23, was to tell the most correct number of seats the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) would win. 

Gujarat cadre woman IAS official who objected to Modi remark on sleeveless blouse

By Rajiv Shah Two days back, a veteran journalist based in Patna, previously with the Times of India, Ahmedabad, phoned me up to inform me that he had a sad news: Swarnakanta Varma, a retired Gujarat cadre IAS bureaucrat, who was acting chief secretary on the dastardly Godhra train burning day, February 27, 2002, which triggered one of the worst ever communal riots in Gujarat, has passed away due to Covid. “I have been informed about this from a friend in Jaipur, where she breathed her last”, Law Kumar Mishra said.

Periyar opposed imposition of alien culture on Dravidian people, but wasn't anti-Hindi

Part 2 of interaction with Thiru K Veeramani, deological disciple of EVR Periyar and one of the senior most leaders of the Dravidian movemen, by  Vidya Bhushan Rawat*: *** Thiru K Veeramani is the ideological disciple of EVR Periyar and one of the senior most leaders of the Dravidian movement at the moment. He started working under his mentor EVR Periyar at the age of 10 years when he delivered his first speech in Salem. Veeramani is President of Dravidar Kazhagam and editor of Modern Rationalist, a monthly journal devoted to Periyar’s ideas. That apart, he is editor of many other magazines and journals in Tamil. This interview was conducted by Vidya Bhushan Rawat at the Periyar Thidal on November 1st, 2019. These are some of the excerpts and the entire interview can be viewed at the youtube link being provided at the end of the article. Dravidian movement internationally Thiru Veeramani said that “It is high time that Periyar must be globalised now. He said that it was easier in rel

Post-Covid, people would look to Ambedkarite, Marxist and Socialist ideologies for direction

Pramod Ranjan*  makes prediction of what people would think post-pandemic phase: *** It is said that had the spread of the Novel Coronavirus not been contained by imposing lockdowns, by now, it would have consumed a substantial chunk of the human residents of the earth. But is the truth as one-sided as is being claimed? Lockdown killed lakhs of persons the world over and its after-effects have ruined the economies of scores of low- and middle-income countries like India. Crores of persons have been condemned to a life of poverty and misery. What is going to change Offices and educational institutions were a gift of the modern age. By bringing human minds together, the places of work and the centres of education not only scripted a new chapter in the development of the human race but also brought diverse communities on common platforms. It is almost certain that in the post-Covid world, schools and offices would not exist as we know them today. A new law for bringing about changes in

#ResignModi vs TINA factor: This activist insists, he can indeed be an alternative!

Chandra Vikash* answers the question: After Modi who? *** With the election results in five states on May 2, and more than a hundred million Indians who have petitioned online with hashtag #ResignModi together with the resound drubbing by the global media projecting him as a narcissist and a disaster, it is a bygone conclusion that Modi should resign or will be forced out by the people very soon. In such an event, do we have a replacement for him in place? After Modi who? I don’t see anyone from the existing power circle – as coming forward or finding support with people given the widespread anger and resentment. It will therefore have to be a dark horse who can rise up to the challenge to bring together India’s diversity and differences, conflicts and contradictions and transform them into new synergies and opportunities to rise up and to save the country from sinking further into despair and disillusionment. In such a scenario, fully aware of our deep and complex challenges at this