Reservations are a ploy for vote bank politics

Ministers prefer general category staff

Rakesh Lohumi
Tribune News Service

Shimla, January 11
While political leaders of various parties keep pleading for expanding the scope of reservations in jobs, but when they come to power and occupy ministerial berths, they mostly pose faith in officers from the general category.

The ministers have full freedom to choose their personal staff. However, while exercising that discretion, they somehow end up favouring the general category. This interesting fact came to light after RTI activist Dev Ashish Bhattacharya gathered information from the Government of India under the Right to Information Act.

Out of the total staff of 229 pertaining to 48 union ministries for which information was made available, 206 were from the general category. The percentage came to 90. Of the remaining, 11 officers were from the Scheduled Castes (SC), two from the Scheduled Tribes (ST) and 10 from Other Backward Classes (OBC).

Out of the 48 private secretaries, 43 were from the general category, four from SC and one from ST categories. Similarly, of the total 71 additional private secretaries, 67 were from the general category, one from SC and three from OBC categories. In case of assistant private secretaries, 60 out of the total 67 were from the general category, six from SC and one from ST. Out of the total 43 1st personal assistants, 36 were from general category while seven were from the OBC category.

Human Resources Development Minister Arjun Singh, who has emerged as a crusader for the reserved categories under the UPA regime, has not opted for even a single officer from the reserved category. All seven officers in his personal staff were from the general category.

Similar is the case of Railways Minister Lalu Prasad Yadav. He has four officers in his personal staff and none of them is from the reserved category. All six officers chosen by the commerce minister are also from the general category.

While all officers in the personal staff of Shipping and Surface Transport Minister TR Balu are from the general category, Power Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde has opted for an assistant private secretary from the SC category while his other four officers are from the general category. Minster for Social Justice And Empowerment Mira Kumar has opted for an assistant private secretary and 1st personal assistant from the SC category while the other four are from the general category.

Bhattacharya says the information exposes the double face of the leaders for whom reservation is merely a ploy to pursue vote-bank politics. If they ignore the reserved categories in making appointments where they have a free hand, what moral right they have to plead for reservation. Had the politicians been sincere about uplifting the needy and really deserving among the deprived sections, they will not have raised the creamy layer limit to reward the rich and the influential and restricted the reservation benefit to one-time for a family, he says.

Born in Bilaspur, Dr. Vatsayayan is at present working as a Assistant Professor at Aerospace Engineering Department of IIT, Mumbai, India.

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