An Uttar Pradesh Minister has criticised the bureaucrats for behaving like kings with the people and pleaded for the abolition of the Civil Service, which he feels should have been done immediately after Independence.
To add insult to the injury and to show abysmal ignorance he added that developed nations like Britain, Russia, China and Japan don’t have Civil Services in their countries, and the same should have been abolished in India also after the country attained Independence. Each country in the world has a system of recruitment to its civil, military, diplomatic service. It may not exactly be, what we have in India, but a system of Civil Service prevails in every country. It could be an outright patronage or appointing party people, or experts to the top jobs, as in USA. But the basic structure of bureaucracy has to be there and has been there since the known history. It is a simple truth, that if you do not know something, keep silent, instead of speaking and revealing your total ignorance.
One cannot deny, and it will be the travesty of the truth, that instead of being a help, the bureaucracy has become a bottleneck, to the common man. But the rules framed have the approval of the Ministers, most of whom are either illiterate or do not spend any time on the Government files, or are busy politicking or making money to make up for the amount spent on the elections or doing fresh collections for the next elections.
In an interview to a Hindi newspaper, the same Minister, who studied in Aligarh Muslim University, claimed that during training, it is put in the minds of IAS and IPS officers that they are going to be the kings. Having been trained in the Indian Police Service, at Mt. Abu as well as IAS Academy, Mussoorie, the least I can say, that it is not even a lie, but a fertile poisoned thinking. Nothing of this kind is in the syllabus or even remotely connected in the training of any official.
The Minister is ignorant of the fact, that the officials are asked to stand up for integrity and honesty. The Minister and his like prefer civil servants who are doormats or who dust off their shoes or touch their feet, or who will yes to every activity of the Minister. We have a UP Minister, who told his officials , that you can indulge in corruption, but do not over do it.
The election watch about the State to which the Minister and the party belongs says, that 48 per cent of UP State Assembly elected representatives who have got elected on SP tickets have declared criminal cases against themselves. Our Parliament is no different. Out of the 543, Lok Sabha MPs, 162 (30 per cent) have declared criminal cases against themselves and 14 per cent of the current Lok Sabha MPs have declared serious criminal cases against themselves.
A total of 1,258 (31 per cent) out of the 4,032 sitting MLAs from all State Assemblies have declared criminal cases against themselves and 15 per cent of them have declared serious criminal cases against themselves.
A leading newspaper undertook a survey about the state of affairs of the Administrative Service, which is likely to be the same for IPS and other top services.
The findings are as under:
v 6,154 is the total authorised strength of IAS across India (January 1, 2013).
v 4,377 is the number of serving officers.
Research Organisation C fore conducted the survey among IAS officers across the country. About 500 IAS officers were contacted for the survey. 63 per cent of the respondents were below 40 years and 37per cent of the respondents were between 40 to 60 year of age. The questions and answers are as under:
Q. Are you facing/have faced political pressure at any point in your career?
Ans: 82 per cent said yes while 18 per cent said no.
Q. If yes, has the pressure been severe, moderate or mild?
Ans: About 63 per cent said severe, 32 per cent moderate and 5 per cent mild.
Dissatisfaction with the political class is clearly visible as more than 4/5thof those surveyed faced political pressure in making their decisions.
Q.Was there any pressure on you to take a decision by your seniors that you didn’t want to take?
Ans: 86 per cent said yes and 14 per cent no.
Q.What is the biggest roadblock while performing your duties?
Ans:Political interference 84 per cent, Redtapism 16 per cent and local mindsets 0 per cent.
It’s not just politicians that influence officers, the survey reveals, seniors too influence them.
Q. Have you ever taken a decision that went against political pressure/popular opinion?
Ans: 78 per cent said yes and 22 per cent no.
Q.If yes, how did your seniors reacted?
Ans: 80 per cent said they have not supported, 20 per cent said they reprimanded, 0 per cent said they have supported, 0 per cent said they were rewarded.
Q.Looking back, would you still choose IAS as a career?
Ans: 60 per cent said yes and 34 per cent said no.
Incidentally, the Government has not hesitated to take action against the dishonest, as the following figures will show:
v 35 bribery cases registered by CBI in four years (2009- 1012) against IAS officers.
v 200 IAS officers suspended over last two decades.
v 47 IAS officers facing cases punishable with dismissal.
Except for a few honourable exceptions, most of the scams, whether it is the Fodder Scam, or 2 G, or Common Wealth Games, or Rail Gate or Coal Gate, are the doings of the politicians, to quote a few. What has been unearthed thanks to a vigilant media, is only a tip of an iceberg, as 9/10 of it remains hidden.
The role of the Civil Service is not that of the Opposition Party. Politicians may consider it an evil, but it is a necessary evil. Surely, the politician would not sit in the office of the Sub Registrar to register deeds, nor would he sit at the reception to direct the patients to the concerned doctor, nor would he like to work as a cook in a Government guest house.
The Ministers are welcome to review the work done, in their respective Departments, as per the laws and rules laid down.
The government cannot lay one set of rules and expect the civil servants not to follow it, as it does not suit a particular Minister.
But unfortunately, the list of Central and State Ministers involved in scams and corruption cases is too long and even one computer would not be able to contain it. It is tiring to listen that our democracy does not work. In the ultimate analysis, we are the ones to make it work. After all, in democracy only, we can ask the powers that be, whether they should be that powers that be.
In my personal view, we have given over protection to the bureaucracy in weeding out the inefficient and dishonest and it would take ages to get rid of the corrupt. This needs to be changed.
The position now is that the distinction between the workers and shirkers has been obliterated. After all, no democracy, can function which is half good and half criminal or which is half rich and half poor. Once a former Congress President, D Sanjivya was talking about corruption in 1962, when I had just joined the Indian Police Service. He said that “Congressmen (The only ruling party) who were paupers, have become crorepatis.” In India, the civil servant, is sometimes like a broken cannon—it won’t work and you can’t fire it.
If anything, there is a need to make an example and shunting out the dishonest and corrupt from the system, including the bureaucrats and politicians. The present situation in India is no different from what Mark Twain once said that . “It could probably be shown by facts and figures that there is no distinctly native American criminal class except Congress (USA Parliament ). No man’s life, liberty or property are safe while the Legislature is in session.”
It is anybody’s guess, as to how much of the above applies to India.
(The writer is former Director CBI)