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: India crosses 1 crore tests milestone

India has achieved a significant milestone as the number of Covid-19 tests conducted in the country so far has crossed the 1 crore milestone. This signifies the importance accorded to widespread testing and the focussed ‘Test, Trace, Treat’ strategy with several follow-up measures taken in tand

“Practise ‘mental distancing’ to keep calm amid epidemic”

Half way through the year 2020, it has been a tough time all around the world: Covid-19 epidemic, loss of lives, economic hardships and also numerous other problems – natural disasters and political protests. Coming together, it all has mental health under immense strain. To discuss this and othe

Understanding immunity: How to boost it during Covid-19

In a first, the Department of Home Science, Sri Padmavati Mahila Visvavidayalam (Women’s University) Tirupati, Andhra Pradesh, recently organized an international webinar on “Nutrition and Immune System Support during COVID-19 Pandemic”. Speakers included eminent national and internationa

Covid-19: India’s recovery rate improves to 59.43%

Even as Unlock enters the second phase, the number of Covid-19 infections continues to rise to record levels and India remains No 4 in the worldwide list, yet there is glimmer of hope: its recovery rate is also rising in tandem. There are 1,27,864 recovered cases more than the active Covid-1

Coming soon at a station near you: private trains!

A long-debated idea is finally coming to fruition as the Indian railways has decided to join hands with the private sector, in running some train services to begin with. The ministry of railways has invited ‘request for qualifications’ (RFQ) for private participation for operatio

A place of local democracy in pandemic governance: The case of Mumbai

Democracy in India is now taken for a fact, with an unstated assumption that all our institutions are democratic and hence often our successes and more often failures are attributed to ‘democracy’. However, a key frontier where democracy remains a challenge is that of local governments and that



Archives

Current Issue

Opinion

Facebook    Twitter    Google Plus    Linkedin    Subscribe Newsletter

Twitter