The Rusting of the Steel Frame

And the story of two exceptions: An honest officer is deemed guilty, and a top officer says no to post-retirement sinecures

ashishm

Ashish Mehta | December 26, 2018


#Harish Chandra Gupta   #IAS   #Indian Administrative Service   #bureaucracy   #Steel Frame   #Hasmukh Adhia  
Ashish Asthana
Ashish Asthana

The Steel Frame of the government machinery was forged by the Iron Man. The phrase that has come to describe the Indian bureaucracy was coined by Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, when he addressed the first batch of Indian Administrative Service (IAS) probationers on April 21, 1947 (the day is celebrated as the Civil Service Day every year since). Patel could not have envisioned this but the frame is now rusted, leaving a few solitary shining spots.

The shining spots, then, stand out. They are the exceptions who prove the rule. In the past fortnight, two such veteran administrators made news. It was a case of shock and awe: shock at the conviction of Harish Chandra Gupta, and awe at the graceful exit of Hasmukh Adhia, among the handful of the most powerful officers till last month.

In case of the modern-day Harish Chandra, irony is that even investigators, who probed him for his alleged role in the allocation of coal blocks as coal secretary in the UPA years, are ready to vouch for his innocence. There are of course legal wrangles in the way, and he is prepared to face them in his own, stoic way.

That is the way also chosen by the other officer. The man who is believed to be the only one prime minister Modi kept in loop on his most historic decision had been offered high-profile positions to choose from after his retirement, but he modestly declined each, thanked his bosses, and vacated his official residence, to pursue his own path.

The subtext of the two events is that the norm these days in the rusted Steel Frame is to garner unaccounted wealth and not get caught, while also keeping political bosses happy to ensure the trapping of power continue past superannuation.

Governance Now tells the unusual story of the two officers who provide a model for the next generation if the Steel Frame is to regain its lost strength.

Read: A Harish Chandra parable gone wrong

Governance of the self

 

(The article appears in December 31, 2018 edition)

Comments

 

Other News

COVID-19 demobilisation: Lessons for public governance

Demobilization, like its predecessor – demonetization, is another decision gone bad in implementation.  In both instances a careful public administrative action through its governance systems could have saved the magnitude of impact particularly on the most vulnerable sections of the society. Th

Don’t fear Corona, fight it

In a bid to break the “chain of transmission” of the deadly Covid-19, India, a country with more than 1.3 billion population, observed a voluntary ‘Janata Curfew’ on March 22. This has been followed by a 21-day, nationwide lockdown from March 24. Prime minister Narendra Modi also re

Sci-Tech Empowered Committee set up for COVID-19

To take speedy decisions on research and development for Sars-Cov-2 virus and COVID-19, the government has constituted a Science and Technology Empowered Committee. The committee, set up on March 29 and chaired by Niti Aayog member, professor Vinod Paul and professor K Vijay Raghavan, princi

Covid-19 and real estate: This could be last straw that broke camel’s back

Covid-19 may turn out to be the last straw that broke the camel’s back so far as the real estate sector is concerned. It broke out at a time when pundits were estimating the GDP to be hovering around 2.5% with unprecedent levels of unemployment. This itself was a good indicator that the real estate s

India ramps efforts as COVID-19 cases rise

As COVID -19 cases continue to rise amid a 21-day lockdown, the centre and the states are proactively taking measures to provide aid to the underprivileged and the needy during this unprecedented situation.         By Sunday morning, India had registered 27

Diplomacy in the time of Covid-19

In the thick of battle with the deadly coronavirus, India on March announced a 21-day lockdown till April 14 in its bid to control the spread of virus which has so far led to 10 people’s death and over 600 others falling sick across the country. As per experts, India, which is in the second stage of



Archives

Current Issue

Opinion

Facebook    Twitter    Google Plus    Linkedin    Subscribe Newsletter

Twitter