If it was 6th Pay Commission across the country earlier, it is now frequent transfers and postings of IFS officers which has emerged as the favourite bashing ground of the “elite” Indian Administrative Service (IAS) in Jammu and Kashmir.
IFS as well as SFS officers, though silently but they have begun questioning the state government’s logic in awarding higher positions to IAS officers especially posting of comparatively junior officers as heads of the forest department in the civil secretariat. They want removal of the disparity in status among different civil services officers and are questioning logic of posting a non-IFS officer in the forest department as its Secretary despite the fact that both IAS and IFS start at the same salary level as officers of any other cadre while being inducted in the All India Services.
IFS officers maintain that the IAS officer who is posted as Secretary in the forest secretariat knows little about the functioning of various wings of the forest department and hence, he does not bother shuttling officers here and there without keeping in mind the tenure posting directions of the DOPT for all the services and not only IAS. They say that the same rigorous screening process of the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) is applied on all candidates who qualify the civil services i.e. both IAS and IFS, then why this inequality.
They question the logic of not posting IFS officers as heads of various other departments in the state while allowing the IAS officers to encroach upon their space. “We are as talented and people with exceptional skills as they are. But they can be out HODs but we can never. This is unfortunate and it is because of this reason that whosoever becomes incharge minister of this department, he cares little about tenure, seniority and cadre discipline. Even his Special Secretary has more powers than some of the seniormost officers in the forest department,” said a senior SFS officer.
Citing examples, they said that of the last six PCCFs, all have worked under IAS officers junior to them in cadre. “Ex-PCCF Irshad Ahmed Khan was a 1975 batch IFS officer who first worked under a 1978 batch officer and later with an extremely junior 1991 batch IAS officer. His batchmate 1975 batch IFS officer Jagdish Kishwan despite being an expert on forests would attend meetings called by a 1991 batch IAS officer. He was followed by 1977 batch IFS officer Ram Deo Tiwari who too bowed to the dictates of the same 1991 batch IAS officer,’ said a senior IFS officer.
He added that another 1978 batch IFS officer Vinod Ranjan became PCCF when the same 1991 IAS batch officer was Commissioner/Secretary Forest. Umang Narulla, who is 1989 batch IAS officer, replaced Shantmanu. He too was junior to the then PCCF. He was succeeded by a 1995 batch promotee IAS officer Ejaz Iqbal, now retired. Iqbal worked with two super senior IAS officers. These included Vinod Ranjan and Abhai Kumar from July 2012 to November 2013. Iqbal too shuttled officers, according to his sweet will and with the concurrence of then Minister for Forest.
“Professionalism should be given importance,” said an SFS officer while adding that IFS and SFS officers must be given better growth opportunities. He added that capital assets worth several thousand crores are locked in our forests which if managed professionally and sustainably can result in a quantum jump in the growth of the country. Another officer said that it was high time the government abandoned its colonial legacy and recognised various services on the basis of their real worth, rather than on the basis of their closeness to the ruling class.