IAS lateral entry is attempt to cut cobwebs of complexity in governance

Those who are crying wolf over “the bureaucracy’s autonomy” are mistaking the government for a political party

ajay

Ajay Singh | June 13, 2018 | New Delhi


#administrative reforms   #Narendra Modi   #lateral entry   #Bureaucracy  
Prime minister Narendra Modi
Prime minister Narendra Modi

If you want to know why the Narendra Modi government's proposal for lateral entry of experts into the hallowed precincts of the Indian Administration Service has kicked up such a row, this anecdote will be helpful: While researching files on bureaucratic notings during the British Raj, a scholar came across a note by a civil servant to his successor advising the latter to browbeat a truant landlord. The note said, "Crush him". After a few days the successor noted on the file, "Crushed him". The next officer jotted down: "Found him crushed".

That temperamental legacy of the Raj's bureaucracy has been seamlessly passed on to India's modern bureaucracy which steadfastly refuses to change its spots. Over the years Indian civil services have become the most exclusivist and powerful club in the country. Even politicians fade away in comparison.

This is the reason why any attempt to introduce reform in the civil services is resisted from the word go. The brouhaha created by retired bureaucrats and serving civil servants over the lateral entry at the level of joint secretaries is nothing but protecting their power turf.

This government has set in motion some path-breaking initiatives to bring the bureaucracy in line with the government’s approach on development. Modi spent an entire day recently at the Lal Bahadur Shastri academy in Mussoorie and interacted with new trainees to orient them towards the government’s developmental plans. Perhaps this was the first time the trainees were asked by a prime minister to make a detailed presentations on the work they would like to do in the states they have been allotted.

The experiment was unique in more than one way. In one go, trainee civil servants got the chance to interact with the government at the highest level and learn about the government’s priorities. Officials who attended the function said that the new recruits were then guided by the senior-most bureaucrats — secretaries to the government of India — to work on the presentations such that they could pass muster with the prime minister. This experiment was intended to bridge the gap between senior-most and junior-most linkages of bureaucracy and promote an understanding between the two extremes.

The fact that the prime minister personally looked at the presentations and rated them himself is clearly intended to push the bureaucracy to closely align with the government. How could anyone find fault with that? Are civil servants supposed to act in a bubble or work against the interests of the government? Perhaps those who are crying wolf over “the bureaucracy’s autonomy” are mistaking the government for a political party.

If the government is determined to cut the cobweb of complexity created in governance by bureaucracy in the past, it is a welcome step. The lateral entry of officers from the private sector is apparently such a move. The survival in the private sector depends upon efficiency and transparency. The same does not hold true for the government. Lateral entrants might be lost in the labyrinth of files and governance complexities at initial stages, but would find his way by introducing changes.

It is absurd to say that outsiders would hold brief for corporate interests over civic interests when the opposite is actually happening. Witness how many bureaucrats take up post-retirement assignments in corporate India. In the last lap of their service, senior bureaucrats are known to lay the ground, and angle for, juicy assignments in India Inc raising doubts about whose side they were on while in harness. On this issue, the less said the better.

It would be perfectly in order to say that more than politicians, the bureaucracy has been the biggest let down for the country in post-independent India. A nexus of politician-criminal-bureaucrats has promoted a powerful underworld that has substantially undermined and subverted the rule of law across the country. There are stories of chief ministers assisted ably by their favourite bureaucrats to amass wealth at unprecedented scale. Such stories are not fictional.

Overhaul of the bureaucracy is much needed and overly delayed. It needs radical reorientation to be aligned itself with the development priorities of the elected government of the day. And there would be no better way to begin it than by introducing lateral entry and allowing even civil servants to serve in the private sector on deputation to enrich their experience.

In a liberalised economy, it is rather absurd to carry the legacy of socialism and perpetually suspect the private sector as deviant. It is perverse to think that the government and the private sector work at cross-purposes. Let this lateral entry in the bureaucracy be a new beginning of aligning all interests in one direction and usher in a new culture of governance which is totally inconsistent with the culture of the British Raj bureaucracy that believed in the ‘crush-him, crushed-him and found-him-crushed’ thesis of administration.

This comment has appeared on FirstPost.com.

Comments

 

Other News

Reopening: Old guidelines extended to November

As the Covid-19 situation continues to improve in India, the ministry of home affairs (MHA) has decided to continue the Guidelines for Reopening, which have already done away with nearly all of Lockdown restrictions in areas outside the containment zones. The MHA issued an order Monday and e

India records lowest new cases in three months

After a scare in September with the number of daily fresh cases inching above 90,000, India seems to have gone down the peak, with several key parameters giving cause for relief just in time for the annual festive season. The new confirmed cases in the 24 hours to Tuesday morning have fallen below 36,500 (

India’s case fatality rate lowest since Janata curfew

The annual festive season has brought good news for India: the country’s case fatality ratio has gone down to touch 1.5 percent, and the number of deaths per day has dipped below 500 in the 24 hours to Monday morning – bringing the situation closer to the number before the lockdown was imposed

“Script is the real hero”

Basking in the success of the new web series, ‘Scam 1992: The Harshad  Mehta Story ’,on SonyLIV, the OTT platform from Sony stable where the lead actors are new faces, NP Singh, MD and CEO of Sony Pictures Networks, has said that the script is the new hero. He credited the s

India’s active cases below 10% of total cases for three days

India’s trend of steadily decreasing active cases continues unabated. The number of Active Cases has remained below 10% of the total cases for the last three days, suggesting only one in 10 cases is active Covid-19 patient. The active cases comprise merely 9.29% of the total positive c

Cabinet clears bonus for non-gazetted employees

The union cabinet chaired by prime minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday gave its approval to pay productivity linked bonus (PLB) for 2019-20 to 16.97 lakh non-gazetted employees of commercial establishments like Railways, Posts, Defence, EPFO, and ESIC, with a financial implication of Rs.2,791 crore.

India Police Virtual Summit and Awards 2020

Archives

Current Issue

Opinion

Facebook    Twitter    Google Plus    Linkedin    Subscribe Newsletter

Twitter