27 February, 2021

Is There Anybody In There?

A 'lame-duck' Paswan feels he's more sinned against than sinning

Is There Anybody In There?

There is always a buzz around the corridors of Sanchar Bhawan, the headquarters of the Department of Telecom (DoT) on Delhi's Parliament Street. Rumours abound of private companies paying off bureaucrats and ministers and there's often talk of threatened agitations by DoT employee unions centring around wages and the proposed corporatisation of the department. But on the evening of May 31, there was hushed silence. Everybody knew it was crunch time. The next morning, IAS officer Vinod Vaish was to take over as secretary, Department of Telecom Services (DTS), from Indian Telecom Service (ITS) officer P.S. Saran. A turf battle the ITS was determined not to lose.

At about eight in the evening, Ashok Kumar Sinha, president of the Indian Telecom Service Association (ITSA), had just finished dinner when he got a call from Shyamal Ghosh, secretary, DoT, asking him to come to his office. There, a bewildered Sinha was met by the entire top bureaucracy of the ministry: Ghosh, additional secretary Dhanendra Kumar and N.R. Mokhriwale, member, services.

A worried Ghosh put just one...

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