T“wenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbour. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”-H Jackson Brown Jr
gfiles’ August cover story is all about the exploring, dreaming, and discovering of the 1990 batch of IAS officers. I met Raja Sekhar Vundru in his new office as DDG, UIDAI, in July and he remarked that his batch was going to celebrate its Silver Jubilee. “Congratulations, and let us make it a cover story,” was my response. He immediately called batchmate Atul Kumar Tiwari and the proposal was heartily approved by various batchmates in no time. All those who could join in at short notice were present on Raisina Hill for a photo shoot one Sunday at 7 am. Tiwari agreed to be the Editor of the special supplement. The Silver Jubilee issue of the 1990 batch (56th FC) is now in your hands. In it, Tiwari writes, “Each one of us has a wealth of accomplishments and we are justifiably proud of them. It would be impossible to catalogue them and to categorise the 56th FC except that we were young, all very happy together, dissecting each other and the universe, and proactive.” Dr Vundru illustrates another aspect: “The batch is about gangs.The JNU gang; USA-returned gang; Gulti-gang; Stefenian-gang, Maratha Light Infantry. TS Jawahar used to tell official jokes the whole night and Jawahar Reddy was called whenever the horses fell ill. The gangs remain, but have transcended the times to excel.” Sumita Misra Singh’s poems force one to sense the pulse of the young ones and those times. Warmingly, the 1990 batch of civil servants is the backbone of the government now, holding senior positions; and within eight years they will start commanding the reins of the country’s administration. Tiwari’s description of the composition of the batch shows it is committed and competent academically, and is now bolstered by experience to serve the system.
Arun Kumar, a veteran writer, raises a serious issue in his article, “Resurgence of civil services?,” regarding the composition of the civil services and training. “A disturbing fact is that the age limit has gone up from 24 to 32 for the general category (including creamy layer OBCs) and the number of chances up from two to six. In case of OBCs, the upper age limit is now 35 and the number of chances nine. In case of SC/ST, the age limit is 37, with no limit on number of attempts. One can see some SC/ST MBBS doctors making 8-10 attempts. This means that
for these years, they are not giving more than a nodding tribute to their basic discipline. Making a rough estimate of the number of ‘doctor years’ wasted or underutilised would run into a tidy figure.” In this issue, gfiles also has several other articles on important issues such as that by MG Devasahayam on ‘kleptarchy’ and a review of Coomi Kapoor’s book, Emergency: A Personal History, by senior journalist BN Uniyal. He writes: “Today I regret that so many journalists who were active in the field during those years and had so much insider knowledge of affairs have not recorded their reminiscences of those years.”
I am also happy to say that this is gfiles’ 101st issue. It has been a long journey and would not have been possible without your goodwill and support.