Outspoken MP IAS officer rubs the government the wrong way, yet again

Deepali Rastogi has ordered that 2 lakh-plus tribal students staying in government-run hostels would not attend any political, social or religious event

Bhopal: Deepali Rastogi, a senior IAS officer of the Madhya Pradesh cadre, who has been in the eye of a storm for her articles in national dailies questioning the ODF campaign and fawning bureaucracy, has again rubbed the ruling party the wrong way by issuing an order that students staying in the hostels, ashrams or studying in schools run by the tribal development department would not take part in any political, religious or social event.

Rastogi, a 1994-batch IAS officer, is presently posted as Commissioner, tribal welfare.

There are around 2,629 ashrams, hostels and other institutions run by the tribal welfare departm

Deepali Rastogi
Deepali Rastogi

ent in the state, where more than two lakh students stay. These students are frequently used by the ruling party to swell crowds at political events.

Rastogi issued the order, acting on the complaint made by Jagan Solanki of Indore on the CM Helpline. The complaint said that a religious event was organised at Niwali Tehsil of Badwani district in March this year. Despite the fact that the annual examinations were underway, hundreds of young girl students staying in Tribal Welfare Department hostels were made to walk barefoot, balancing a ‘kalash’ on their heads, in the Shobha Yatra, which was a part of the event.

ODF: Why are we emulating what the Whites do?

In her article published in an English national daily in 2017, Rastogi said the ODF campaign was an attempt to change a centuries-old mindset in just a few months because the white people say it is wrong to defecate in the open. She also raised doubts about the availability of water to keep clean the toilets constructed under the ODF campaign. After picking holes in the way the scheme was touted by the government, she concluded saying, “Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for toilets. After all, I am a city-dweller. I’m just uncomfortable with the way we are pushing it.” A notice was served on Rastogi by the state government for questioning PM Modi’s pet scheme.

‘Bureaucrats are yea-sayers’

“They weigh their words very carefully before they speak. Most choose to not speak at all — on critical matters. On anything else, they can hold forth forever, to those below them. To those above, well, they are the silent yea-sayers,” she said in another article published this month in an English daily. “The biggest “quality” attributed to an IAS officer is that he or she will anticipate political will and run to obey/ comply before words are even out of his political masters’ mouth. The best IAS officer is one that has no opinion of his own, or even if he does, keeps it to himself,” the article went on to say.
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