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IAS officers never retire

R. Sundaram | Updated on July 16, 2012

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Frankly, to know why, one must ask members of the IAS this question. Of course, the public in whose interest they accept these positions must be thankful to them for placing their expertise at the disposal of the government, even when they can really afford to hang their boots and take to memoir writing. Anyway, who feels most peeved about this? Obviously the civil servants belonging to the other technical and non-technical services who have been denied their share in the post-retirement gravy train. Not just them. It appears that the journalists whose area of operation is information, seem to be rightly incensed because the information commissions all over India are packed, ironically, with those very bureaucrats who had operated in caverns of darkness.

Action plan

However, if one thinks carefully, one may find that retired IAS officers may not be the ones to blame for continuing indefinitely in government. As the saying goes, “Behind every successful man there is a woman.” And in the extant case a wife. Usually officers, a year before retirement, get busy with preparing pension papers, gathering service records for over three decades from various places, when the wife pops the question, “So, what are we going to do now?” She dreads the day when the office car and driver will stop coming.

Through the grapevine, she has heard a whole lot about how husbands of her friends are parking themselves in various ‘cushy’ appointments after retirement for ensuring uninterrupted facilities. So the couple sit down at the dining table and make a list of positions the husband can seek, starting at the very top from the post of Governor, Lt Governor, CAG, CEC, UPSC, CIC down to Members of Various Commissions, Tribunals, Public Sector Boards, Chief Integrity Monitors, and a matching contact list of political leaders and bureaucrat colleagues, a list of those who can help swing each specific job for them.

The couple draw an action plan and set to work till the appointment is announced. Even if they have been critical of the mannerisms of pan-chewing politicians in private, they call on the Minister, where the wife puts across, as delicately as possible, how the couple is ill-prepared for retirement, mostly because during his service days the husband was so tied up in the call of the nation.

The couple knows residence in Delhi is a must to get one of these sinecures and so even if they have to fall foul of the estate office they continue to stay in Lutyens Delhi.

Double trouble

So, if you think, on hearing that a Finance Secretary or Home Secretary took his position as a Regulator or a Commissioner just the very next day after his retirement, they all picked a low hanging fruit, you are wrong. Really, you must ask their wives to know how much effort goes into this. Well, you may ask, what if both husband and wife are in the IAS? Obvious, they have double trouble. In one case more than a decade ago, reportedly, a retiring IAS couple met the Prime Minister and sought post-retirement sinecures.

Finding that the wife was due to retire first, he favoured her with a post-retirement position in a Commission and the husband was left high and dry. The moral of the story: if you are an IAS couple it is better to approach the issue severally and not jointly.

(The author is a former Member, Ordnance Factories)

Published on July 16, 2012

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