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Exclusive | 'Apology Heals': Kiran Bedi Weighs In on IAS Dog-walking Row, Punishment Postings

Bedi advocated that in such a situation an officer should go for a corrective therapy course and apologise in public. File pic/PTI

Bedi advocated that in such a situation an officer should go for a corrective therapy course and apologise in public. File pic/PTI

The former lieutenant governor also said that Ladakh and Arunachal Pradesh are the finest places to work and need capable officers

While there is a debate going on about the transfers of the IAS couple who emptied Delhi’s Thyagraj stadium to walk their dog, former lieutenant governor of Puducherry and top cop Kiran Bedi has said that pictures of the pet on the running track are not acceptable.

“This shows his callousness towards government property, of which his service is the guardian,” she said about Delhi’s principal secretary (revenue) Sanjeev Khirwar who has now been sent off to Ladakh, while his wife, Rinku Dugga, who is also a bureaucrat, has been transferred to Arunachal Pradesh.

Bedi advocated that the officer should go for a corrective therapy course and apologise in public.

The former L-G also said that Ladakh and Arunachal Pradesh are the finest places to work and need capable officers with good reputations and not be stigmatised.

“It would be just to hear him (Khirwar) out and discover what was happening. Who had instructed what? And why? Was it any written direction or was it verbal? Or was it an overreaction by junior staff for their senior? But pictures of the dog on the running track are not acceptable. This shows his callousness towards government property, of which his service is the guardian,” she said in an exclusive conversation with News18.

When asked about exploring the option of suspending these two officers as punishment, Kiran Bedi said that would have been disproportionate. “Moving them to another UT as an instant reaction gives the impression that some UTs are punishment places. Which they are not. They are the finest places to work to develop and enhance the quality of life of people there. These places equally need capable officers with a good reputation and not be stigmatised,” she said.

The recent transfers have spurred a debate on “punishment postings” and several voices have suggested that it is discrimination against the residents of these areas.

“Each place and every department deserves to be served to the best by public officials posted. Each place has self-pride and self-dignity. All are part of our country. Once stigmatised, postings to these places have a debilitating effect on others. We must instead find another way of corrective and reflective practice. Of course, it depends on the gravity of each case,” Bedi said. “Another immediate way could have been to ask him (Khirwar) to seek leave to reflect and redeem and give a written realisation of acceptance of the mistake made. It will make him a better human being.”

An apology heals, said Bedi. “It will show him having become humble,” she added. While talking about possible corrective measures, she suggested that the government could ask the officer to go into a corrective therapy course, which he can choose or can be designed. “Objective is provided for a healed officer for the rest of his service,” she said.

Bedi said she would have preferred sending such a person away for self-realisation and to admit to his senior what he had learnt and what he would not repeat.

“We must not leave a bitter public official anywhere. For that is a lifelong loss in administration. Or else he will serve grudgingly in various capacities for the rest of his career. Which is harmful for all that he does,” Bedi said.

While talking about the corrective measures to make bureaucracy more public-friendly, she said, “Our recruitment needs to increase weightage on assessing attitudes, which is the emotional quotient, like practised volunteerism, empathy, kindness, humility, giving, sharing, selflessness, simplicity, and gratitude.”

Authorities should find ways and means of knowing these qualities during recruitment and maybe have more extended probation for such qualities to surface, she suggested. “It will help understand what kind of a human being he is likely to be. We strike a harmonious balance between the highest marks obtained and centred humanity which will get expressed in all-pervasive behaviour,” Bedi maintained.

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first published:May 27, 2022, 16:16 IST