Welcoming Hon’ble Mr. Ola as Administrator!

Q. Germany has Europe’s highest employment rate today. How did the German economy escape being hit by the crisis?
A. I think our social security system is the stabilizer.

Ursula von der LeyenGerman labour and social affairs minister

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(The following may be read as Part III of the earlier Article titled ‘For efficient transaction of ESI Corporation’s business’. This forms part of the Note to be submitted to the Sub-Committee constituted on 19.09.2013. The next and last Part will deal with the consequences of the Minister becoming Disciplinary Authority by virtue of his becoming Appointing Authority)

The millstone

The officers in the Administration wing had been wielding arbitrary powers in a whimsical way in the matter of transfers of officers. Moreover, they assumed full powers for themselves to style those transfers as ones in public interest (without the approval of the Director General). It happened in numerous undeserving cases resulting in the siphoning off Corporation money in an unauthorized manner. Their activities during this era has become an albatross, now, for those who plead for keeping politicians away in the matter of transfers of officers of the ESIC.

These events prove, once again, only the fact that when there is no need to enforce any Transfer Policy, the bureaucrats would also behave subjectively, whimsically and for extraneous considerations.

The scope for real service lies here for the Minister

What is, actually, required for proper administration of the ESIC is enforcement of a proper and well-laid down transfer policy in a transparent manner. The ESI Corporation as a body, the Hon’ble Minister, as the Chairman of that body and the Standing Committee as a body , all the three, can do a real service to the nation by ensuring proper enforcement of that policy by the Chief Executive Officer without interfering in its implementation every year.

But, any attempt by the Minister to acquire that power for himself is of no use for the well-being of the organization.

  1. The Minister has not explained how and why the decision taken by the ESI Corporation on 27.02.2005 was wrong.
  2. He has not explained how and why things would improve if he becomes the Appointing Authority and Disciplinary Authority for the officers of the ESI Corporation.
  3. He has not explained how he would enforce the power of transfer if and when vested in him.
  4. He has not explained what policy he would follow to make the functioning of the Organisation better, by acquiring the power for transferring the officers any by becoming their disciplinary authority.
  5. He has not explained whether he would make any foolproof provision to prevent the opposition party from misusing these powers if and when that party comes to power at the Centre.

Every citizen of the nation is entitled to know what sort of checks and balances are provided to guard against be abuse of power of transfer of officicers. Every citizen is entitled to feel concerned that an important organization like the ESIC, which is the backbone of the nation’s economy, is not made a playground to play foul games.

Moreover, a politician should not be allowed to be the Disciplinary Authority. That would corrode the civil service, the steel frame of the nation.

Creating constituencies

Transparent transfer policy alone is the need of the hour. Christening exoting names like ‘Fairness Committee’ or any such things would, actually, create more power centres. One who is genuinely in need of transfer will have to please so many persons in that Fairness Committee. Instances were many that the officers who were in such committees created their own constituencies among officers.

Once, the Committee met. An officer who was in the Committee in the Hqrs. office, managed to get ‘his man’ transferred to the place of that man’s choice. Just after the meeting of the Committee was over, he ‘dutifully’ telephoned that man to convey the message so that that man would remain loyal to him in the future too. ‘That man’ was very happy, naturally. He thanked the officer profusely. But, he did not stop with that. He immediately telephoned the Director (Administration) and thanked him too for that transfer. Now, the Director (Administration) was wondering how ‘that man’ knew of the developments so fast. In another case, an officer just advised the committee members to finalise the transfers of all as they pleased but to leave one Region to him. The other officers complied with his request. He just settled his personal score with many officers of that Region. Favouritism and Witch-hunting became the hallmark of that order. With Fairness Committees, the organization saw only collusion of persons in power to achieve their personal ends.

Opportunity lost

Public interest will be served only if there is a well-laid-down policy and it is enforced in a transparent manner. Such transfers are effected in Indian Oil Corporation and many other organisations. These organisations travel some extra distance, too, to help the admission of the children of the transferred officers in educational institutions. These measures are well-justified and the ESIC Administration expressed its readiness to consider these issues in the year 2004. But, the ESIC Officers Federation played spoilsport.

If a proper policy is laid down, the general transfers will, simply, become a clerical work in the E. I. Branch itself without much scope of manipulation and arbitrary discretion. The staff members had been very sincere and almost scientific in applying the principles of transfers and postings while preparing the proposals both at the time of promotion to hundreds of officers on every occasion and at the time of general transfers. But, what they need is clear and unambiguous guidelines in writing.

The Hon’ble Minister would be doing real service to the nation, if he ensures that such a policy is really enforced by the bureaucrats in an objective manner. If, still, the Hon’ble Minister wants to become the Appointing Authority, Disciplinary Authority and Transferring Authority, he must become a full-time administrative officer of the ESI Corporation and run the organization duly assuming responsibility for his actions.

It would be helpful, if the public is enlightened about the reasons, if any, recorded by the Hon’ble Minister for the various transfers ordered by him so far, through his unlawful interference in the Administration, by exercising undue influence.

Those instances would show the tendency of the Hon’ble Minister to the public. And the public does have the right to know what their Minister is up to.

We welcome Hon’ble Minister, Mr. Sis Ram Ola to become a full-time administrator of the organization thus. But, let hm not remain the Minister also at the Centre in charge of various other departments and dabble only with the transfers of officers of the ESIC. We know very well how seriously it harmed the EPFO.

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It would be of help to readers to go through the following news items too:

The Hindu, August 13, 2013:

A senior IAS officer handling sensitive gas pricing issue and matters pertaining to Reliance Industries Limited-held KG D6 block has been relieved of majority of his duties on personal orders of Petroleum and Natural Gas Minister Veerappa Moily.
According to the August 6 note signed by Mr. Moily and accessed by The Hindu, Joint Secretary (Exploration) in the Ministry, Giridhar Aramane, has been relieved of charge of gas pricing, acquisition of E&P assets abroad, all establishment and administrative matters related to Oil and Natural Gas Corporation Videsh Limited and unconventional hydrocarbon.
“The above mentioned work of Mr. Aramane is transferred to Joint Secretary (IC & GP) P.K. Singh,” says the note.
Mr. Aramane was involved in taking action against Mukesh Ambani-owned RIL for shortfall in production and failure to fully implement the field development programme in the KG D6 block.
A spokesman of the Ministry denied knowledge of any such order being issued.
“I demand the immediate withdrawal of the order. The new officer being posted in place of Mr. Aramane will carry out the dictates of the Petroleum Minister and would not do justice to his job,” CPI MP Gurudas Dasgupta said in a letter to the Prime Minister.

Times of India adds:

On its part, the ministry dismissed allegations made by Dasgupta. A senior official said, “If there was any ulterior motive Aramane would have been divested of gas pricing when it was not finalized. Now, gas price is settled and the Cabinet has cleared it. Transfer has been done to bring in better synergy.”
Calling the transfer of Aramane “nothing short of a fraud being played out by the petroleum minister”, Dasgupta said by his abrupt transfer “government loses the expertise that the officer has gained in the subject”. He said entrusting Aramane’s work to an officer “who has been recently promoted as joint secretary by the present petroleum minister will ensure that the new officer shall only carry out the dictates of the minister and will not take an independent view in the matter”. Dasgupta said the “honest” officers are being victimized and “pliable ones being rewarded by the government, as the country has witnessed in the case of Durga Shakti Nagpal and others”. Referring to the Supreme Court’s stricture against the government for transferring officials handling the Coalgate investigation, the CPI MP said, “Transferring officers, who are carrying out their duty with integrity and upholding a public interest, in spite of unrelenting pressure from unscrupulous ministers, is a serious scandal.”


The Hindu said on the same day in a different news item:
“Strongly refuting charges of transferring an officer for being tough on Reliance Industries, Oil Minister M. Veerappa Moily on Tuesday said he will resign if even an iota of evidence was produced against him”.

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