Kerala babus on top in Delhi’s corridors of power

NEW DELHI: Slowly but surely, the reins in Delhi’s corridors of power are passing on to civil servants from the relatively backward states of Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand, Orissa and Madhya Pradesh.They dominate the premier cadre of civil servants, the IAS. Thirty-five of the 100-odd senior-most bureaucrats, of the rank of secretary in the Union government or equivalent, come from these states.This trend has several implications, most of them regarded positive. Above all, it is assumed that these senior policy-making babus would be extra-sensitive to the special requirements of the backward regions, and with so many of them in top jobs, would be able to influence thinking on development issues.

But, the buzz in babusphere is all about the dominance of the “Kerala mafia”. It is so strong that the US embassy picked it up and cabled it — as WikiLeaks reported — to Washington.In that probably lies a lesson: Numerical strength doesn’t necessarily signify clout. There are offices and key offices. It’s pointed out that the latter are occupied by the officers either belonging to Kerala or belonging to that cadre.The numbers game is as follows. Secretary-wise, the largest number come from UP (13), followed by Bihar and Kerala (8 each), Madhya Pradesh (7), Punjab (4), Andhra Pradesh (3), Jharkhand, Tamil Nadu, Nagaland, Himachal, West Bengal (2 each), and Maharashtra 1.

In addition, there are officers at the secretary level in the IFS and other cadres.Brandishing “evidence” of Kerala’s alleged dominance, a senior bureaucrat says: “The man at the helm, cabinet secretary K M Chandrasekhar, belongs to the Kerala cadre. National Security Adviser Shiv Shankar Menon is from Kerala as also home secretary G K Pillai. The PM’s principal secretary, a hot job, if there’s one in babudom, is T K A Nair, who too is from Kerala. – TOI