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Significantly insignificant

ADalit wrote the most important policy document of the nation, our Constitution. But 68 years on, there have been very few IAS officers from SC/ST categories in the highest echelons of policy-making. It has been observed that officers from the Dalit community seldom reach the rank of Secretary. There are many factors. What happens when a Dalit reaches the rank but is assigned to an inconsequential ministry? There are at least four serving Dalit secretaries in the government but, intentionally or unintentionally, they have been sidelined in insignificant departments or commissions. Lalit K Panwar, a 1979-batch Rajasthan-cadre IAS officer, known for his skills and efficiency, has been posted as Secretary, Minority Affairs. Another officer, Ashok Angurana, 1980-batch J&K-cadre IAS officer, has been posted as Managing Director, Tribal Co-op Marketing Development Federation of India (TRIFED). Surjit Chaudhary, a 1980-batch Tamil Nadu-cadre officer, has been posted as Secretary, National Commission for Minorities, and his post has been upgraded within the same ministry. Prabhudayal Meena is another IAS officer of the 1980 batch, MP cadre, and his post has also been upgraded in the Department of Land Resources as a Special Secretary. When Narendra Modi took oath as Prime Minister, Dalit officers had heaved a sigh of relief and felt assured that finally officers of their community will get justice but mindsets change slowly.

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