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Whistleblower Magsaysay winner disappointed with political interference in AIIMS

New Delhi: Whistle-blower bureaucrat Sanjiv Chaturvedi, who won the Ramon Magsaysay award, on Wednesday said he was highly disappointed with the political interference in the administrative work of the country’s premier health institution, AIIMS, and the PMO’s response to it.

Chaturvedi told IANS in an interview that political interference has increased under the Narendra Modi government.

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“During the past 3-4 years, a lot of unwanted activities have happened at AIIMS. I am deeply disappointed with the prime minister’s Office. Honest bureaucrats are not allowed to work independently as there is a lot of interference by the political class in administrative work,” Chaturvedi, who got to know about the Ramon Magsaysay award given to him on Wednesday morning, told IANS at his official residence.

The 40-year-old, 2002 batch, Indian Forest Service officer of Haryana cadre, said bureaucrats in the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) were also subjected to humiliation if they worked against the government’s will.

Emphasising that he was highly inspired by Modi’s slogan “Na Khaunga Na Khane Dunga” or “Zero tolerance against corruption”, Chaturvedi said he was later disappointed, when action was taken against him and not the corrupt officials after he exposed corruption at AIIMS and other departments where he had served earlier.

Chaturvedi, who is currently the deputy secretary at AIIMS, was removed from the post of Chief Vigilance Officer (CVO) of the institute in August 2014 much before the completion of his tenure that was till 2016.

Dedicating the award to all honest government officers across India, he said: “It is a strong morale booster for honest officers of the country who are discharging their duties in difficult circumstances.

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“My tribute to the founding fathers of the Constitution, particularly Sardar Patel, who was behind the creation of the all India services.”

Chaturvedi is the younger son of Uttar Pradesh Electricity Board retired engineer DS Chaturvedi. His elder brother Rajeev Chaturvedi is also an IFS officer of the Rajasthan cadre.

Noting that his grandfather was a freedom fighter and had participated in the 1942 Quit India Movement for which he was awarded in the year 1972 by the Centre, Chaturvedi said he was highly influenced by late former president APJ Abdul Kalam, who wanted to serve the country with the same positive attitude and selfless manner.

“During my convocation after the IFS course training, Kalam was the president, and he had come to our academy in August 2005 and awarded me two medals for excellence in training. His lecture was very inspirational,” Chaturvedi told IANS.

Asked if he had received any call from the health ministry, Chaturvedi answered in the negative, saying the first to congratulate him was Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer Ashok Khemka, who also faced government action for his fight against corruption.

Recalling his fight against corruption at AIIMS, he said: “My approval as the AIIMS CVO had the nod of all the statutory authorities of the institute and was also a part of the commitment to the Parliamentary Committee. However, all these were violated and a false excuse was given that my appointment had no prior approval of the CVC and that was why I was removed.”

“The worst part is that even as I sent more documentary evidence to the PMO demanding a probe against the culprits, harassment against me accentuated, work was withdrawn from me, instead of taking action against them.

“Attempts were made to implicate me in fake cases, and spoil my annual confidential report, my promotion was withheld and even my own ministry issued a defamatory press release against me of so-called complaints and inquiries,” the officer added.

Indicating corruption in the political system, he said: “When I had to be removed from the CVO’s post, 20 signatures were recorded within 24 hours, and when my reasonable and lawful cases of promotion, cadre change, deputation were concerned, these were kept pending for months. It shows how the system is working.”

Stating that he just had one message for the entire country, Chaturvedi said: “As long as I am a part of the bureaucracy, I will serve the country with full honesty and transparency, regardless of the consequences I face.”

(by Rupesh Dutta, IANS)

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