The Union home ministry has identified bureaucrats who are being “cultivated” by foreign intelligence operatives to push their agenda through the granting of personal favours, such as courses in foreign universities.
In a strongly worded note to all secretaries of the Union government, home secretary RK Singh has asked heads of departments to restrain bureaucrats from hobnobbing with foreign embassies in India.
While promising to take action against officials who have been “compromised”, Singh has told secretaries to prevent officers from seeking personal favours from officials of foreign embassies and high commissions.
“Specific instances have come to the notice of this ministry, where officials have been in touch with foreign service nationals (FSNs)/embassy officers/staffers of other counties, in contravention of the laid-down rules and circulars. Such contacts give FSNs and embassy officers (some of whom may be intelligence operatives) an opportunity to cultivate sources within the government and/or push their agenda,” Singh wrote to secretaries on April 3.
Stating that the home ministry has identified officers who have sought “personal favours" by being “nominated for courses abroad”, Singh said the act of the officials was reprehensible, and they would be taken to task. “The matter regarding specific officials will be taken up separately, but you may like to advise all the officials to strictly follow the extant rules and guidelines,” Singh said in his letter.
It is a normal practice for high commissions and embassies to dole out short-term courses and mid-career fellowships to civil service officers. Even fellowships earmarked for academics are often given away to influential bureaucrats in order to cultivate them.