NEW DELHI:The composition of steel in India’s steel frame is changing, thanks to the Narendra Modi government. Flaunt a foreign degree and get a plum posting, for IAS officers under the UPA government, is passé. Now, with the NDA giving equal or more consideration to expertise in traditional knowledge, ranging from medicine to language, top mandarins are busy working on their ‘Indian side’.
There are, however, many senior IAS officers with strong backgrounds in yoga and Sanskrit who are steering major positions in the government. And juniors are also trying to learn a thing or two about traditional wisdom.
It was Dr Hasmukh Adhia, secretary (financial services) who kick-started this trend. He shifted from Gujarat to Delhi along with Modi. He holds a doctoral degree in yoga from Swami Vivekananda Yoga University, Bengaluru, and is playing a crucial role in “Indianising” the bureaucracy. “It is not that Adhia has no exposure to ‘modern’ education. He is a gold medallist from IIM Ahmedabad and has also undergone training at Maxwell School of Public Affairs, Syracuse University, US. But the crucial thing is that he values his traditional wisdom. It’s all about attitude,” said a junior IAS officer in Adhia’s ministry. This additional secretary-level officer, interestingly, has become hooked to yoga and meditation after joining the Union government earlier this year.
Adhia is said to be planning a Gujarat model ‘Karmayogi Abhiyan’ for bureaucrats, which is meant to transform them into karmayogis by imparting training which will include pranayam and yoga. He enjoys direct access to Modi and is said to have played a crucial role in making the International Yoga Day a success.
“Traditional wisdom had never been the ‘in thing’ in bureaucratic parlance. But not anymore,” said the officer about his late entry into the vast arena of traditional knowledge.
Another senior official who flaunts his ‘Indian side’ is expenditure secretary R P Watal. Well versed in Sanskrit literature, he often chants verses in the language during official meetings to explain investments and credits. Even during public functions he does it.
Kapil Dev Tripathi, secretary in the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas, is another Sanskrit expert in the Modi government. An Assam-cadre IAS officer (1980 batch), Tripathi is a well-known face in the Sanskrit literary circle. Another senior official charting a traditional path is Balvinder Kumar, secretary, Ministry of Mines. The 1981-batch IAS officer of Uttar Pradesh cadre writes prolifically on philosophy of religion and aspects of spirituality and consciousness.
R Ramanujam, a 1979-batch Madhya Pradesh cadre IAS officer who was a secretary in the PMO, is another Sanskrit expert for whom the NDA
government offered an extension in office though he was a prominent face in the previous Manmohan Singh government.