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Cover Story

Counting old as gold

PC Alexander, an IAS officer, served as Governor of Maharashtra till the age of 72. Brajesh Mishra, an Indian Foreign Service officer, served former Prime Minister of India Atal Behari Vajpayee till the age of 76. TKA Nair, an IAS officer, served as Adviser to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh till the age of 73. Pulok Chatterjee, an IAS officer, served Manmohan Singh till the age of 65. K Padmanabhaiah was working as interlocutor for the North-East for almost 10 years after retiring as Home Secretary. BN Yugandhar, after retirement as Principal Secretary to late Prime Minister PV Narasimha Rao, worked elsewhere for many years and was brought back as Member, Planning Commission in UPA-I. SS Sidhu after retirement served in ICAO, a UN body, as its head and later as Governor, Manipur and Goa. ESL Narasimhan, after retiring as Director, Intelligence Bureau, has been serving as Governor of Chhattisgarh and Andhra Pradesh for the last eight years. Shiv Shankar Menon served as NSA till the age of 64. BK Chaturvedi, former Cabinet Secretary, served till the age of 69. Naresh Chandra, former Indian Ambassador to the US, served till the age of 67. NC Saxena, Governor of Jammu and Kashmir, served till 70. Ajit Doval, present National Security Adviser, is 69 years old; Nripendra Misra, Principal Secretary to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, is also 69 years old. These are the who’s who of the Indian Administration and Civil Service. They have served almost 45-50 years with the Government of India. They are mentally agile, physically fit and have abundant experience to solve even the most intricate of problems. When all these seniors have and are running the nation, then why should the available experienced human resource be superannuated at the age of 60 years? The moment most officers retire, they look out for a cushy post-retirement abode, to enjoy the ultimate luxury of life. It is a sheer wastage of resources. The government has to re-plan and restructure so as to ensure the best utilisation of its competent human resource, which it has nurtured over the years by acclimatising these people in different administrative terrain. As it is, thousands of posts of IAS and IPS officers are lying vacant. These cannot be filled up in a jiffy. Given this scenario, retiring experienced and trained bureaucrats on whom the state has spent a fortune over a period of 30 years clearly does not appear practical. When the Government of India trusts its officials till the age of 70-71, sometimes even 75, then why does the system retire them at the age of 60? These are pertinent questions which should be debated. Globally too, there is an ongoing debate on when governments should retire their human resources. The National Democratic Alliance government will also have an uphill task before it as Modi has reposed faith in running his administration with the help of civil servants above the age of 65-70 years. In this cover story, Prabhat Kumar, former Cabinet Secretary, MG Devasahayam and MK Kaw, both also former IAS officers, discuss why the government should not retire its human resource at the age of 65.

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