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Bad news for babus who pull strings to get foreign contracts

Bad news for babus who pull strings to get foreign contracts

Author: Shishir Gupta
Publication: The Indian Express
Date: December 28, 2003
URL: http://www.indianexpress.com/archive_full_story.php?content_id=38120

For babus who perhaps do not understand the meaning of the term, ''conflict of interest,'' this New Year may not bring good tidings.

Cabinet Secretary Kamal Pande has decided to crack down on the rampant practice of high-profile bureaucrats wangling lucrative foreign assignments with international bodies connected with the ministries they are working in.

Sources said the Ministry of Personnel is proposing a two-year moratorium for All India Services (that includes IAS and IPS) bureaucrats before they can apply for foreign assignments or consultancies related to their departments.

Simply put, a Health Ministry bureaucrat will now have to wait for two years after finishing his tenure before the babu can apply for deputation to an organisation like the WHO.

This proposal has been forwarded to the Ministry of External Affairs for approval. It will become a rule after being cleared by the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet.Bad news

The decision to bring this key reforms in officialdom was taken after it was found that once on foreign deputation, several bureaucrats were found to be using their babu network to ''lobby'' for the international organisation for which they were working.

As a pointer of things to come, Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee and Pande refused permissions to two senior secretaries, one with Ministry of Finance and other with Food Ministry, for getting a consultancy from international organisations this year.

Even though the government is all for encouraging Indian representation in UN bodies, it is against bureaucrats going on three months' leave for foreign consultancy in a bid to make a fast buck.

The officialdom currently is replete with instances where an IAS or IPS bureaucrat has managed a foreign posting in the same subject that the person was dealing with in the government.

For instance, a former joint secretary in the Health Ministry wangled a two-year deputation in the WHO. A former joint secretary in the Civil Aviation Ministry has got a job with an international body dealing in the same subject. A private secretary with a former Industry Minister is now with the UNIDO. Similarly, another former PS to a Cabinet Minister is now with the IMF.

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