top of page

Straighten the bureaucracy and make it accountable by RK Raghavan


C3S Paper No. 0031/ 2015



If press reports are to be believed, the HS admitted having spoken to some CBI officers to go slow on Matang Sinh, a former Union minister, whose role in the Saradha Scam was being probed. Rumour has it that both Goswami and a few senior police officers who had links with Sinh did not want CBI to arrest him. You may ask me: Do not ministers and others in the ruling class regularly meddle similarly with criminal investigations?


There are several theories floating around about the exit of Union home secretary (HS) Anil Goswami: some credible and the rest preposterous The basic point, however, is that he was found wanting in a demanding and performance-driven environ. Only this time, it was not the outcome of a minister- civil servant ego clash, the usual source of strife and trouble in the higher echelons of government.

If press reports are to be believed, the HS admitted having spoken to some CBI officers to go slow on Matang Sinh, a former Union minister, whose role in the Saradha Scam was being probed. Rumour has it that both Goswami and a few senior police officers who had links with Sinh did not want CBI to arrest him. You may ask me: Do not ministers and others in the ruling class regularly meddle similarly with criminal investigations?

Undoubtedly, they do. But then, they, unlike government officials, do not constitute a permanent structure governed by conduct rules framed specially to ensure that they are a disciplined lot. They have also taken a pledge at entry to abide by those rules.

When you join the civil service you barter away your freedom to act as you want like a citizen, and agree to eschew whims and fancies so as to fall in line with prescribed modes of civilised behaviour. Also, the politician is a bird of passage. whereas, a civil servant is a permanent entity who lends stability to governance.

The Modi government has broken all conventions and has sent the unmistakable message that civil service sloth and negativism are things of the past. It has further told the rest of the world that it has a mandate to deliver, and whoever does not rise up to the occasion to act fast and efficiently, will be shown the door. A civil servant at the top will have to demonstrate how a certain project can be implemented, and not tell government why it cannot be.

This was seen in the government move to extend a bank account to milions of Indians who did not have one.

I am sure a lot of seniors are cribbing about the speed of response required of them. My stand is that they cannot complain as long as they are not asked to do anything illegal or that which hurts the poorest of citizens. The famous dictum that applies to the British civil service is worth recalling here. A secretary to the government has the right to advise his minister, but has no right to be accepted.

Here again, he has a right to protest against illegal orders, and refuse to do a minister’s bidding when the demand is downright illegal and also unethical. He should exit on his own when pressured to do what is not within the realms of propriety. I still remember the case of PS Appu, who used to head the National Academy of Administration several decades ago. When the government asked him to take back an IAS probationer whom he had expelled for reasons of miscondict, Appu put in his papers and walked away. There are a few other examples of justified civil servant remonstrance against unethical directions by the political class.

But the Goswami episode is different. It sends out the right message that a senior civil servant should conduct himself in such a manner that he is an example to his juniors and not otherwise. It is sad but true that many in the All India Services have not measured up to standards of probity that an honest citizen expects them to attain. They are naturally, therefore, objects of derision of the lower bureaucracy and the aam aadmi. If the Modi government succeeds in straightening them up, it would have more than earned the gratitude of the millions of our country wallowing in poverty and who demand to be uplifted.

The national consensus is that the higher echelons of our services are monuments of greed and a vulgarly high lifestyle which are incongruent with the masses. This deplorable state of affairs requires the Prime Minister’s immediate attention.

The writer is a former CBI Director

0 views0 comments

コメント


LATEST
bottom of page