February 19, 2020
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A page on the quirks in public administration

Past Its Prime?
Is the Centre unable to hold in the finance ministry? Insiders say this year most of the budget preparatory work—the studies and working group reports—on specific proposals have come from outside North Block, from independent think tanks or the Planning Commission. While Yojana Bhavan staff are smirking with the reversal of fortune, sources say the dearth of talent inside the ministry may be the reason. Also, for the first time, Yashwant Sinha will present Budget 2002 without a finance secretary. The post has been vacant since Ajith Kumar left to become Planning Commission member-secretary. Officiating in his place is economic affairs secretary C.M. Vasudev, whose post has miraculously resurfaced after E.A.S. Sarma was shunted out before the last Budget on the pretext of redundancy!

Unlucky Strike
Believe it or not, the people who run our software industry simply forgot to renew the registration of their website. Click on the official website of the Electronics and Software Export Control Authority of India (www.escindia.com), and you will be redirected to a certain www.royalcasino.com. The URL was re-registered by a Florida-based company on January 19. Those still interested may go to www.indiasoft2002.com or later, if the registration comes through, escindia.org. Interestingly, http://www.indiansources.com/Esc/vik-esc.html has a page which states prominently on its title: "This is esc's webpage"!

Mahajan's With It
The government's all-purpose spokesperson, Pramod Mahajan, is sure going places. The IT and parliamentary affairs minister recently got the Asian Oceanian Computing Industry Organisation (ASOCIO) 2001 IT award for his "pioneering role in the development of the Indian IT industry". Previous winners include Malaysian PM Mahathir Mohammed. Presenting the award, ASOCIO chairman Harres Tan said: "As India's first IT minister, he has...shared a common dream with other Asian statesmen to build a knowledge-based economy in the new millennium." The award comes to each country once in ten years.

Snakes And Ladders
Filling up top jobs in babudom is turning out to be a pain for the government. Even as key posts in the ministries of commerce, fertiliser, planning and small industries were filled recently, more are falling vacant. Power secretary Ashok Basu and civil aviation secretary A.H. Jung retire in March, while family welfare secretary Javed Choudhury retires in April, health's A.R. Nanda and telecom's Shyamal Ghosh in May, adding to the list of contenders for the chairs at cag, SEBI, TRAI, Central Electricity Regulatory Authority and UPSC.
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