Former bureaucrat Anil Swarup |
Former bureaucrat Anil Swarup | Manisha Mondal / ThePrint
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Ahead of launch of his book ‘Not just a Civil Servant’, Swarup says Narendra Modi hasn’t experimented much with bureaucracy.

New Delhi: It is below a senior civil servant’s dignity to apply for a post-retirement job in the government after serving in it for decades, former secretary to Government of India, Anil Swarup, has said.

In an interview to ThePrint, Swarup, whose new book Not just a Civil Servant is all set to launch next month, said he had taken a conscious call to not apply for a position post-retirement.

“I was very clear that I will not apply myself…I am not averse to civil servants taking up post-retirement assignments — I would have considered one myself — but it is below the dignity of a senior officer to apply for a post,” he said.

“It sends the message that you are willing to submit, and as a civil servant, the message you send is very important.”

Swarup has served as Human Resource Development and Coal Secretary in Government of India before retiring last year.

The “bottom line” of his book, which captures the 38 years of his career as an Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer, is that “a civil servant can do a lot of good for the people if he so desires despite all the political problems… The choice is his.”


Also read: An ex-IAS officer on how politicians (mis)use civil servants—and the way out


‘Modi is clear-headed’

Speaking of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s style of handling bureaucrats, Swarup said, “Mr. Modi is one of the most clear-headed and purposeful politicians…When I was coal secretary, the directions were always very clear, and there wasn’t too much interference.”

Much has been spoken about Modi’s experiments with the bureaucracy in terms of his 360-degree evaluation, his attempt to institutionalise lateral entry, among other things.

However, Swarup said, “I don’t think he experimented much… Some people feel oppressed, and others feel they can do what they want, so it is very subjective.”

“I had the freedom to do what I wanted to do,” he said.

Swarup said this holds true for the fracas in the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) as well.

While he was “pained” to see the ongoing mess in the CBI, he felt the officers in question — Alok Verma and Rakesh Asthana — could have handled the crisis better.

“What happened in CBI is indeed very unfortunate…There is indeed something wrong with the selection process,” he said.

“But having said that, what happened in CBI was something that the bureaucrats, and not the politicians, did. The spat between the officers is not the politicians’ doing, it is the two officers’ doing,” he said.

“There are ways of sorting out difference of opinion. You can’t have a public spat over it,” added Swarup.


Also read: Justice Sikri, whose vote decided Alok Verma’s fate, gets Modi govt nod for plum posting


Post-retirement jobs

Weighing in on the ongoing debate about whether bureaucrats and judges should take up post-retirement jobs, Swarup said that while nothing is wrong with bureaucrats manning important commissions and panels, the selection process needs rethinking.

“If the selection process is not doubted, there is no way the people in these positions will be doubted,” he said.

“It is because the government directly appoints these people, and sometimes they do the government’s bidding or don’t, that the entire process is doubted.”

“Why not have the UPSC select these people? If you have an agency which is credible carrying out the selection, it will automatically ensure that people of integrity are appointed,” he added.

Swarup also had a piece of advice for bureaucrats. When there are disagreements with politicians on any issue, a civil servant should always put their views on the file, he said.

“As a civil servant, you have to put your view on the file. If you get overruled then you put your heart and soul in doing what the decision is,” he said.

“But if you don’t put your views on the file, then you are being intellectually dishonest.”

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29 COMMENTS

  1. It is a joke. IAS babus are shameless at self-glorification. It grows on them from the days they are District Magistrates. But this guy is the limit. He has reached the position of a Secretary to the Central Government and it was possible only if he had an outstanding confidential record. He must have safeguarded his record like the apple of his eye to end up with outstanding entries every year for decades. There is no need of any evidence to presume the number of times he must have sacrificed his dignity for the sake of keeping the shine on his confidential record. Things which he should have done were left undone and vice versa. Now talking about dignity? Some guts.

  2. This comes from a mind-set that the Civil Services are some sort of a God-Send to the Country. No doubt they pass a tough exam to enter the Civil Services, but that was not altruistic an approach, but only basically designed to land up a Salaried Job. Somehow, it gets driven into their heads – probably from the Mussourie Institute itself, that they are a class apart, (this was reflected in demanding the lal-battis, the no-frisking regulations, etc., even for Assistant Secretaries, till recently!!!!). They are just government servants like anyone else in the tehsil, with a higher responsibility and therefore, a higher authority, which most of them just squandered away during their careers, blaming the political systems for their inefficiencies. Very very few exceptions are there, though the entire cadre has managed to hide behind such behemoths like T N Seshan, etc.
    A very sorry mind set of this Anil Swarup chap – may be he has learnt to live within his pension, post-retirement!!!!

  3. Quite true, Anil Swarup is one of the outstanding officers whom I came across, unfortunately some of the bureacrats are willing to bend, bow and do whatever,for a post retirement assignment, most of these selections are not transparent and in many cases a quid pro quo for obvious leanings. This is nothing new as previous governments also did the same, unless there is some well laid out selection process done through UPSC it is bound to continue, incidentally in many state governments do the same throwing all caution to winds, particularly picking up retired officers of doubtful integrity to sensitive positions.

  4. Is he in his senses? The efforts for securing post-retirement sinecures start at least a decade before the date of superannuation in all cases of the winners in this life-and-death competition. It is indeed below dignity to publicly discuss the manner of this exercise in which the spouses are also actively involved. The author must be well aware of the fact that sense of dignity and material success (at least for bureaucrats) never ever coexist and, unless dignityis totally given up along with honesty, bureaucrats cannot be ‘successful’. Success costs very heavily, nothing terms of money and self-respect.
    There has never been–nor can there ever be– any exception to this universal rule. And, one loses shame and dignity only once and for all.

  5. Dignity is not I think a right word to describe Babu’s arrogance. A formality of application for a job makes you feel insulted. Boot licking what you have been doing for years was easier than that. See the servants of india. How lucky we are to have you in *bureaucracy*. Oh you left. What will happen now with this country.!!!! Dignity…My ass

  6. @Binod Agarwal, India is safe for all. But the current system and mindset of Indians is not at all safe for innocent and honest people instead it’s is dangerously hazardous and life threatening and unconstitutional for them. If the same trand continues for more then 15 years, then no one will be able to save India from a dooms day. Everything will be finished. But I have faith in India and upsc and judiciary and most in Constitution that will save India before such day come.

  7. Mostly the post retirement assignment given to the bureaucrat is the prize for what they had done for the political parties. Remind Civil servants are not the doll to dance as per the wish of politicians.They are responsible to the people.

  8. IAS is a great institution of our country.Their contribution in Nation building is laudable.
    Lately they have learnt to toe the line with corrupt politicians.They love ease and comfort and donor like being kicked.
    Let us be clear that nothing’s on file are not for a cause but certainly an evidence of intellectual corruption.

  9. I retired defence officer. I have complained against one bureaucrat I.A.S for corruption .He managed this as he has his own brothers who are corrupt themselves and no action taken against him.but the corrupt I.A.S took against me by sending me in jail and made difficult for me to come out of jail. Paid to my advocates to speak against me and used govt. Resources to keep me behind bars.It was real Hindi movie but hope ending may be like Hindi movie.
    Today I feel that .Is India save for innocent and honest people?

  10. I had this very good experience of working with Shri Swarup. He is quiet different from the other Officers i see today. But all in all, they are given far better priveleges. They look down upon the staff working down the hierarchy. It the Central Secretariat Services which is the backbone of executive branch. By virtue of experience gained in states, they rule over the staff. Secretariat is destined to be overpowered. Be it pay scales, be it respect, they always have an upper hand. I loathe the british system of bureauceacy and its continuance still. Pay commissions come and go yet CSS officers at the lower rungs suffer with a much loss. They the IAS must be praised only if they really bring about change in the system as they are given such tasks. Their magnanimity be tested that way. Coming in to the secretariat and troubling the hard working staff at the lower rungs, is as bad as anything.

  11. Then, why not have a No Retirement Age policy, rather only a Performance-based employment retainment Policy, like that in progressive nations like Australia and the USA?

  12. WHATEVER HAS BEEN SAID BY MR SWAROOP IS BY AND LARGE AGREABLE AND HE HAS HIT THE NAIL ON THE HEAD OF THE PROBLEM.WHAT WE NEED TODAY IS CLEAR HEADED AND DEDICATED
    PEOPLE TO THE PURPOSE IN THE GOVERNMENT BOTH BUREAUCRACY AND POLITICIANS FOR THE UPLIFTMENT OF THE INDIAN SOCIETY AND TO MAKE A MARK WITH A DIFFERENCE AT INTERNATIONAL LEVEL

  13. Assets of all higher beuracrats whether they be iAS IPS or technocrats, be scrutinized to last details.
    So that no can amass a disroportonate property thru corruption.
    CBI like body should be given an open manate to executed such officer having disroportonate asset.

  14. Rightly said in the article above. Being a goverment servant is a sea of opportunity for working for the people. Some goverment servant waste this opportunity badly due to their outlook . Mostly understand it as 10 to 6pm job and some misuse their position to earn vide corruption and earns nothing but bad name. Searching for motivation to work is simple .One should not try to please their bosses but to the public at large. One should try to get work satisfaction not through an award or promotion from government but applause received continuously from people satisfaction.
    I use to motivate my juniors to work for people and not for me for which they are paid. Corruption is the cancer caught to a public servant which should immediately be treated like removal from service with zero tolerance as done for cancer because it affects the development of nation.

  15. It’s best way to put one’s views clearly on file with well defined rationale behind such nothing. Such fearless and objective noting is difficult to be over ruled by politicians. In such a situation, if you cause discomfort to political bosses, it’s possible that you get shunted out or your views prevail. In both situations your objective of serving the right cause is achieved. In my long career in public and private sector banking I have personally experienced that nothing is difficult to be over ruled or even diluted. On occasion, you have to confront ” punishment” postings, sidelining from important portfolios but that’s a professional Hazzard which every profession has in different nature. For a competent officer such sidelining is also a challenge or opportunity to turn that into an important job. Kiran Bedi shined when she was IG, Prison (Tihar Jail), where she experimented with reformation of criminals who were considered good for nothing. She is regarded today for her immense contribution and for international recognition she got for the same.
    For a Civil Servant honesty and purposefulness are the hallmark.

  16. Life is not just about work and jobs.Post retirement job aspirants are depriving the unemployed of opportunities.Also it’s a pointer to the system’s inefficiency to find new faces.

  17. That putting views on the files, is it limited only to bureaucrats? Is not the political boss obliged to write his view which is often expressed orally?
    Corruption actually starts there.

  18. Almost all the bureaucrats are corrupt,moneyspinners and hoarders of ill-gotten money…..be it IAS,IPS,PCS or from any other services.They are involved in money laundering and establishing there sons and daughters in foreign countries by sending money through hawala.Or first they float fake companies in India and accumulate money through fake transactions and thus convert their black money into white.This money in then transferred legally to tax heavens.And after retirement they pose as upright person talking about ethics and character.Wah kya baat hai.After looting for 35-36 years they talk ethics and morals.What a paradx.Why they don’t do it during their service tenure is understandable.It is said that an honest bureaucrat is man of 100
    crore and a corrupt bureaucrat is a man of 1000 crores and sky is the limit.The shameless mortals.

  19. It is not the question whether one should or should not. If one is in sound health and can contribute to the national good ( administrative, technical- science/health/ engineering /technology) there is hardly a reason that expertise should not be used for those in 62 -72 range as advisors , consultants, committee experts , board members on tenure basis. Intellectuals with expertise should sought for advise , evaluation , independent monitors and the like. Nominations , panels would obviate the need to ‘apply ‘ if some have reservations. Murar E Yeolekar Ex.Director /Dean. Mumbai.

  20. The moot question is–why become a public servant?–the answer is inherent in the question itself.–to do public service honestly, without fear or favor. If a civil servant can’t do that, the whole purpose of the civil services is negated.

  21. Time and again it has been proved that in a competition between corruption and honesty,it is always corrupt who succeeds.

  22. Not accepting a post retirement assignment, having been at the crease for 38 years, carries a moral certitude. That is what Justice Chelameswar did. It becomes a little hazy to say one will not apply but will not refuse if offered.

  23. Perhaps that is why the IAS has institutionalised a system of tribunals and committees where they can only be appointed. No one else is permitted to enter. IAS does not even has to apply.

  24. Hi sir a voice came against the Post retirement government personal getting an assignment a lollipop for the chamchagiri to the power seatead government in his career sevice carried to him this phenomenon to be strictly forbidden, for the betterment of the society, country, they make a excuse that they will serve the country don’t make false misguide to show your morality , you have lots of ways to serve for the betterment, make a high moral make a swachh samarpit simplified samridh self worked Sindhu

  25. Most of those who who tainted as public servants are better fit for politicians which has initiated a drive to throw out the honest of them to strengthen the channel of corrupt public servants and politicians

  26. Whether it is a civil servant or any direct recruits officer shall squire certain value system , traits and mannerism in delivery system without compromising with the basic tenents of the system. He will have his own personality once he opts for some obligation ,it is an indication that he is prepared to compromise. What is the need for post retiral stint? If at all one is interested in a particular type of activity may be academic or social service with different dimentia and even bringing some changing RS in the organised trade union ism ,there is ample scope and not necessarily government patronage

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