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IAS, IRS, IIS associations ask officers to contribute to PM CARES after Modi govt ‘nudge’

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Representational image of IAS officers with PM Narendra Modi | Photo: narendramodi.in
Representational image of IAS officers with PM Narendra Modi | Photo: narendramodi.in


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New Delhi: The Narendra Modi government Wednesday informally urged all civil service associations to ask their officers to contribute generously to the PM CARES Fund, ThePrint has learnt.

And on the same day, the Indian Administrative Service (IAS), Indian Revenue Service (IRS) and Indian Information Service (IIS) associations tweeted a 16 April letter by Cabinet Secretary Rajiv Gauba, urging officials to contribute to the fund.

A government source said that while no written communication was given to associations, they were all informally asked to tweet this letter by the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT).

Another source said the “pressure” to contribute assumes different forms every other day, but has remained a constant since this fund was set up to combat the Covid-19 epidemic in India.

However, DoPT spokesperson and Press Information Bureau Director General Kuldeep Singh Dhatwalia downplayed the significance of the associations’ Wednesday appeal.

“Whenever such contributions are made, these are voluntary. Information during such crises is reached to all through whatever means of communication it is possible. During crisis, personal, government and non-government lines are immaterial,” Dhatwalia said in response to queries from ThePrint.


Also read: Modi govt ‘weighs proposal’ to allow IRS, IAS officers to work from home even after lockdown


Gauba’s letter

In the letter sent to secretaries of all departments last week, Gauba had said: “While the government is doing its best, it will be a noble gesture on the part of government officials to augment the resource pool by making voluntary monetary contribution to help fight the (Covid-19) challenge.”

The letter added: “Government officials have, during similar national crises in the past, contributed minimum one day’s salary. Hence it will be appreciated if an appeal is issued at your level to all officials working in your ministry/department as well as in the attached/subordinate offices and public sector undertakings to contribute to government’s efforts to deal with this unprecedented situation.”

After tweeting the communication, the IAS Association clarified in a subsequent tweet: “This contribution will be in addition to any donations or contributions already made for Covid-19.”

‘Nothing voluntary about the fund’ 

ThePrint had earlier reported how this constant nudging from senior officials to contribute money to the PM CARES fund had irked officers.

The second government source quoted at the beginning of this report, an IAS officer, said there has been constant pressure to contribute, and that there is nothing “voluntary” about the contributions.

“When every other day officials are being nudged to contribute, what is voluntary about the contributions?” the official asked. “We have all donated our salaries individually and through our association networks…But what is this constant pressure?”

Last week, ThePrint reported how a circular by the Department of Revenue had stated: “Any officer or staff having objection to it may intimate drawing and disbursing officer, Department of Revenue in writing mentioning his/her employee code latest by 20.4.2020.”

This has led to absolute lack of discretion, an IRS officer said on the condition of anonymity. “It is like if you do not want to donate, then give reasons for it…Who would want to get into that sort of confrontation?” the official asked.

The official also called the move to urge associations to tweet the letter tantamount to “coercion”.

An IIS officer, who also didn’t want to be named, said: “Associations are meant to represent the interests of the services…Nobody is opposed to donating their salaries, but there has to be discretion.”


Also read: Lav Agarwal, a ‘reticent’ IIT grad, Andhra IAS officer who’s the face of India’s Covid fight


 

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Andhra doctor, suspended for alleging PPE shortage, now beaten by cops for ‘creating nuisance’

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Bengaluru: A doctor with a government hospital in Andhra Pradesh, who was suspended for questioning the shortage of PPE kits, was admitted to a mental health facility Sunday, a day after he was allegedly manhandled by the police and arrested for creating nuisance in Visakhapatnam.

Dr Sudhakar Rao, a government civil surgeon, was beaten, his hands tied behind his back and dragged by police officers Sunday. During the incident, Sudhakar allegedly verbally abused the Jagan Mohan Reddy government in an inebriated state. Videos of the incident have since been widely shared online.

“The police control room received a call about a person creating nuisance on Beach Road Hospital in Visakhapatnam. The Fourth Town police was rushed there and found that the person was the suspended doctor, Sudhakar.

“When the police tried to control him, he snatched the mobile phone of an officer and threw it away. He is suffering from mental disorder and he was drunk. He was sent for a medical examination,” Vishakapatnam Police Commissioner R.K. Meena told the media Sunday.

Sudhakar was admitted to a mental hospital Sunday after doctors at the King George Hospital in Vishakapatnam said he suffered from anxiety.

“Since the doctor is in anxiety and talking irrelevant things, I have referred him to a mental care hospital in Visakhapatnam,” said Dr Radha Rani, medical superintendent, King George Hospital.

A statement released by the hospital said: “Dr Sudhakar was brought to the KGH casualty ward at 6.30 pm. From the smell, it was found that he was in a drunk condition. Under the influence of alcohol, he did not cooperate with anybody there and kept abusing all. Still, his pulse, BP were checked. Pulse was 98, BP 140/100. Blood samples were sent to forensic lab to ascertain alcohol content in his blood.”


Also read: 6 toilets for 20 houses, inadequate testing: Why Mumbai’s Worli chawls are a Covid hotspot


‘Treatment towards Sudhakar was inhuman’

Sudhakar, who spent more than 10 years at the Narsipatnam Government Hospital in Andhra Pradesh, was suspended from his duties in March after he openly criticised the Reddy government for failing to provide PPE kits and N95 masks to doctors treating Covid-19 patients.

He had alleged that the state government was giving N95 masks and PPE kits meant for doctors to politicians and the police.

A video of Sudhakar criticising the government was also shared widely. In the clip, he can be heard saying: “We are putting our lives at risk here. We are asked to use the same mask for 15 days and a fresh mask will be provided only twice a month.”

Speaking to ThePrint, Dr P. Gangadhar Rao, member of the National COVID Committee of the Indian Medical Association, said the manner in which Sudhakar was manhandled by the police was “inhuman” and “violated” human rights.

“We strongly condemn the way he was taken into custody. He was not carrying a weapon, he was alone, the number of policemen outnumbered him. Why treat him like that? We also saw a video where a policeman beats him with a lathi,” said Dr Gangadhar.

He added that Rao was one of the most experienced anaesthetists the Andhra Pradesh government had.

“Our next step of action is to get Sudhakar to write an unconditional apology for having used filthy language, abusing the chief minister and the government. We will then take our appeal to the CM seeking that he be reinstated,” Gangadhar said.


Also read: Face shields, gowns, masks — the new attire for cabin crew post lockdown


 

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