Here, political favourites often hijack foreign trips | Thiruvananthapuram News


THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Foreign tours are being eyed as an attraction not just by the political executives but also by the officials. In many cases of foreign trips, the proposed names are manipulated and replaced with political favourites citing multiple reasons.
In the latest instance, (records of which have been accessed by TOI), the name of one among the two IAS officers who were invited to travel to Seoul in South Korea next week to attend an environment-related event, was struck off at the higher level to replace the name with a retired IAS officer who is continuing to be employed in the government after retirement and a serving senior official.
In another case, a tour to Vietnam by officials from the agriculture department was accompanied by former IFS officer and the government’s officer on special duty (OSD) in Delhi Venu Rajamony after removing subject experts. It is reliably learnt that he will be accompanying the chief minister and his team in the upcoming trip to Finland as well.
The state government had appointed Rajamony, a retired officer, as the OSD in the rank of the chief secretary to liaise with the ministry of external affairs, Indian and foreign diplomatic missions and to explore possibilities of collaboration with other countries. “All other states make use of services of the Indian embassies abroad whereas we are reinventing the wheel and wasting resources,” said a retired IFS officer, who did not want to disclose his name.
As per an order by the Union ministry of finance regarding foreign travels of the officials, it has been said that “the administrative secretary shall ensure in every case, that officers of appropriate functional level dealing with the subject are deputed instead of those at higher levels”.
It has also been said that if it is considered that the participation of the officials in international fairs, exhibitions, workshops and conferences are unavoidable, only the officer directly dealing with the subject should be deputed.
Experts said that the trips of officials abroad will make sense only when those who are dealing with the subject are deputed. “Retired officials or officials who are not directly dealing with the subject need not be sent on such trips. This is the practice followed in the Union government,” former secretary of Union urban development ministry M Ramachandran said.
It is learnt that the government is considering giving Rajamony an extension for another year. “Rajamony travelling abroad along with the officials from the state is fully justified because his services have been hired by the government by counting on his experience in the foreign service and working with the governments of various countries,” a top government official told TOI, on conditions of anonymity.





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