‘Decided To Move On As Professional’: Former Finance Secy SC Garg

“My continuance as a professional was difficult. It was a lame-duck like situation,” Garg said.

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Cameraperson: Sumit Badola

On 31 October, senior bureaucrat Subhash Chandra Garg took voluntary retirement from the Indian Administrative Service, one year ahead of his superannuation.

Garg posted a note on his Twitter handle in which he said his stints as the head of the Finance Department, both at the Centre and in Rajasthan “ended unceremoniously”.

Although he was designated Finance Secretary, in a surprise move, the government issued an order in July and transferred him to Ministry of Power as the secretary.

In the note, Garg said he would have been the longest-serving finance secretary had he not been transferred.

In conversation with The Quint, the top bureaucrat elucidated the circumstances which led to his decision. Further, he gave his opinion on the state of India’s economy and the shortcomings of the nation’s economic policies.

“A situation got created that my continuance as a professional was difficult. It was a lame-duck like situation,” Garg said.

Garg was careful not to divulge many details but he did imply a few policies aren’t going in the direction he agrees with.

“Certain decisions were moving in a particular direction. This is why I took this call... I felt I could do more by being outside the government,” he added.

The former bureaucrat said three of his top finance-related postings ended prematurely.

“It has happened three times that I was transferred while heading the finance division in the state (Rajasthan) or Centre,” he pointed out.

‘Too Much Government Involvement’

According to Garg, one of the main problems faced by the Indian economy is the high degree of government involvement.

“We have a very large government presence in businesses. Until recently, insurance and financial sector were under government control,” he said

“Government is not a businessman. It is a governance institution, it is a regulator... Whether it’s infrastructure or manufacturing, government should think like a businessman and frame policies accordingly,” he added.

Garg said that private players are finding it unviable to take up big infrastructural projects.

“In the infrastructure sector, we are witnessing a reversal. For some time there was a great deal of interest by the private sector in projects such as road-building. That isn’t the case any longer. Now, thanks to policies on land acquisition and financing, the private sector isn’t interested any longer. The costs are very high, the returns are low.”

How Can We Resolve India’s Job Crisis?

Garg thinks the solution to India’s job crisis lies in boosting production in the economy.

“Much of what we hear about unemployment is not based on root cause analysis. Employment is generated only when there is production of goods and services. Without that, there can’t be any employment. Employment can’t be provided by giving government jobs,” he said.

According to him, automation and increase in digital technology are also contributing to the shortage of jobs.

‘Respect Judgment of Bureaucrats Who Quit Services’

On being asked about young bureaucrats like Kannan Gopinathan and Sasikanth Senthil who have resigned from the IAS in protest of what they called an attack on “India’s democratic ethos”, Garg said he respects their decision but refrained from commenting on the stance that the two civil servants had taken.

“These two cases are in a different space from one where I am comfortable – which is industry and the economy. These are more political thinking and feel about rights and wrongs. I respect their judgment. If they feel they can serve better by being outside the government, in civil society, then they are entitled to do so,” he stated.

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