Kolkata: After a spate of recent resignations by young IAS officers, Jawhar Sircar, former Prasar Bharati CEO and former Cultural Secretary, Government of India, who resigned after 41 years of service in November 2016, feels “many more (resignation) may follow suit,” as the ideal of “serving the country” has taken a hit in recent times.
“Many more can follow suit as meritorious students embrace IAS and allied services not in lieu of money but also to serve the country. The present circumstances, where the country is moving towards dictatorship, has warranted such moves, as these bright people (who are resigning) have understood that it is impossible to serve those who themselves are not abiding with constitutional norms”, Sircar told Newsclick.
It may be recalled that apart for young IAS topper Shah Faesal in Jammu & Kashmire, three IAS officers resigned in the last one month. Kannan Gopinathan, an AGMUT-cadre officer, and Sasikanth Senthil, a Karnataka-cadre officer, resigned over ‘lack of freedom of expression’ and abrogation of Article 370 by the Modi government, as well as Kashish Mittal, a 2011 batch officer, who was transferred to the North East.
Sircar was among the first IAS officers to resign as Prasar Bharati CEO after the Narendra Modi government came to power in 2014, after an alleged fall-out with the ruling dispensation.
The former civil servant said he felt that many more civil servants may quit in the coming days as the Modi government had a “vindictive nature” which was evident as it had started enquiries against IAS officers within hours of their resignation from service.
He also alleged that a ‘carrot and stick’ rule was being followed, adding that “if you fall in line with the government, overnight you will be richer by Rs 50 lakh to Rs 2 crore (by showering of posts).” Examples of this are former Comptroller and Auditor General Vinod Rai and M Damodaran (Former Securities and Exchange Board of India Chairman).
Then there are also officers like Quraishi (S Y Quraishi, who served as 17th Chief Election Commissioner of India), “who has kept their straight spine , and is earning respect everywhere and is evening voicing his dissent in spite of all kinds of pressure, he said.
Sircar, considered a “thinking bureaucrat”, is a regular invitee during the Training Module of IAS, and is also on the governing bodies of various universities. He is currently Chairman of the Board of Governors of the Centre for Studies in Social Sciences, Kolkata, a premier social science research institution. He was the first Indian to be elected as vice president of the world's largest Public TV and Radio organisation, the Asia Pacific Broadcasting Union, on which 67 nations are represented.
Ex-Civil Servants Back ‘Bureaucratic Dissent’
At least two more retired IAS officers from West Bengal -- Former West Bengal Chief Secretary Ardhendu Sen, and former Principal Secretary Sukhbilas Barma -- have also spoken up against the trend of authoritarianism and in government.
Speaking with Newsclick, the two retired officers condemned the recent trend of governance and hinted at the present “hard times” for bureaucracy and the IAS in particular. They said the present situation had left many civil servants in a fix, as they can’t be forced to go against Constitution, and if they do so, their original aim to serve the country and its Constitution, gets defeated.
Supporting the resignation spree of some IAS officers, Sen, who is former joint secretary, Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas, as well as former Chief Secretary, West Bengal government, among others, said: “There is an atmosphere of resignation. An IAS officer wants to work with his/her head held high. However, the present governance in the country, even in West Bengal, is such that the quotient of serving the country is very difficult now. In the present nationwide circumstances, I too ponder whether in such circumstances I would have been able to work.”
Barma, a noted Bhawaiya singer from North Bengal, who was former Principal Secretary, Department of Agriculture and is at present a Congress MLA in the West Bengal Assembly, held similar views.
“The IAS is a government service no doubt, but the joinees are motivated by the pluralistic and secular aspects of our Constitution, more than anything else. What else can be a motivation for these bright meritorious minds.… The present government’s lack of tolerance, adherence to Constitution, and lack of will to maintain the pluralistic nature of the country and democratic values, has led to this situation,” he added.
Bikashranjan Bhattacharya, former Kolkata Mayor and ex-Advocate General of Government of West Bengal & Tripura, who in 1993 was offered the Position of High Court judge that he had refused, said that the decision of some “young IAS officers to resign are indeed welcome,”
“It should be noted whatever the political hue of the government, IAS officers are supposed to act according to the Rule of law. The lack of will of the present government for maintenance of Rule of Law has set a dangerous precedence in the country for the first time after Independence. In this situation, the resignation of these young IAS officers with special plea for upholding the rule law and essence of the country ,is indeed a hearty affair,” he added.