Reshuffle good but stick to tenure based formula

Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti had reshuffled administration, brought in a new team, sent a tough message across that she means business and is in no mood to tolerate indiscipline. She has gone a step ahead and appointed her father Late Mufti Mohammed Sayeed’s long time companion M.K.Dhar as her Personal Relations Officer (PRO).

The team which would be eyes and ears of Mehbooba Mufti have not been changed at all. The team continues to be the same which Mufti had chosen to run the day to the day affairs of the Chief Minister’s secretariat. But what now is the real test is how long it will take her to again reshuffle the administrative set-up or will she stick to her guns and turn down all requests of transfers over flimsy grounds. Mehbooba should understand that the state has great expectations from her. She should realise that she has come to power on the rising aspirations of young and old in Jammu and Kashmir.

Her decision to retain Principal Secretary, Home Secretary, Finance Secretary and others was appointed by her father and ex-Chief Minister Late Mufti Mohammed Sayeed has been widely appreciated.  After holding the first cabinet meeting, the initial meetings with secretaries-where he exhorted them to take decisions without fear or favour and promised to back them up is another step that needs to be applauded. But she should after this major overhaul put to an end to the transfer industry.

She should not tolerate tantrums of the officers who are transferred and then, they refuse to join at the new place of posting.  Frequent transfers of officers prove to be a handicap as the government pushes forward critical reforms.

The new government in J&K can take a lesson or two from the union government where joint secretaries, with five-year tenure, are both the memory banks and the workhorses of their respective ministries. Government needs to take a conscious decision that no official who has been appointed will be shifted out of his or her position till their tenure is over or he/she gets a promotion. This will be a morale booster and will also provide the time required to develop expertise and continuity in policies.

Second, each ministry needs to lay down an action plan in furtherance of the achievement of its policies and must monitor that plan on a monthly basis. Third, there is a disturbing trend emerging of a large number of IAS officers not willing to come back from the central deputation. If this continues, then perhaps in the next five years, we will have few officers manning positions which they deserve according to their seniority.

And more importantly, the new government must make earnest efforts to bridge the gap between KAS and IAS officers by taking certain policy decisions which could pave way for even KAS officers being considered for handling districts and divisions. Seniority of KAS officer should always be kept in mind while taking decisions with regard to their posting. Let them not feel that state pampers the IAS, IPS and IFS lobby at their cost. Let them not feel that they are not wanted.

The KAS, KPS and SFS officers are as competent as IAS, IPS and IFS but it is for the state government to develop trust in them. Officers, who work hard and qualify state’s own civil service examination, usually work as subordinates of the IAS, IPS and IFS officers. None rises to the top most positions in the state police or bureaucracy.  This is a heartburn that they have. The new government needs to take a policy decision for promoting the local KAS, KPS and SFS officers.

Mehbooba should take a step in this direction so that they do not feel let-down. She should not seek advice from left and right corners but take a decision on her own by merely looking at who is doing what in the state administrative set-up. She should neither let down the IAS, IPS and IFS nor let the KAS, KPS and SFS servants feel that they are better off as juniors or subordinates. This government cannot afford to fail. It has laid down several excellent goal posts. It should try and achieve them, even if the task is going to be difficult. The lives and livelihood of millions are at stake.


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