Millennium Post

Honesty is the worst policy, evidently

As if the harrowing tale of the much-transferred IAS officer Ashok Khemka weren’t enough, the political top brass gives us more names that have been clear victims of injustice and biases. Particularly so if they happened to be honest. The latest in the assembly line of vexed and evidently discriminated upon bureaucrats is Keshav Desiraju, the upright and extremely efficient (now former) union health secretary. Desiraju was removed as he questioned and indeed tried to stonewall the appointment of a ‘tainted’ official into the Medical Council of India (MCI), reportedly close to the former MCI chief Ketan Desai, a man himself suspect and accused of running a recruitment racket in a Patiala-based medical college. In fact, union health minister Ghulam Nabi Azad not only humiliated and talked down the erudite and sincere Desiraju, grandson of former president of India Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, but in fact, shunted him out from central health ministry to the ministry of consumer affairs, so as to go ahead with the intended appointment into the board of the MCI, allegedly a den of corruption.

It is obvious that qualities such as uprightness, honesty and efficiency have lost out to traits like sycophancy, tendentiousness and willing to compromise in order to go up the bureaucratic ladder, creating and deepening the entrenched structural problems within the system. Even the showdown between finance minister P Chidambaram and bureaucrat Sudhir Krishna was a clear case of giving vent to prejudice, favouring a particular breed of English-savvy, upper-class, even Hindu Brahmin bureaucrats over those who have risen through the ranks by sheer dint of hard work. The tone and tenor of this legislature-executive connection is regrettable.
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