Better Bargaining for a Good Governance

Joginder Singh
IPS (Retd.)
Former Director, CBI 

The IAS associ­ation of Andhra Pradesh said on 4th February, 2012, that its members have been targeted selectively and arrested for their alleged role in Emmaar and mining scams, while no politician or minister has been named. Incidentally the Supreme Court Empowered Committee has recommended, the cancellation of 49 mining leases and resumption of operations in 45 Leases. It added “ The massive illegal mining and transportation had become possible because of the blatant connivance of the officials and public functionaries concerned concerned. What is more there has been an all round degradation of environment with all its attendant problems because of the unsatiable greed of the few”.

Obviously, without saying in so many words, the officials feel that the mal-governance of previous re­gime is being laid on the officers because of political compulsions. What the Association has not said but it implies, that the compulsion, of any Government is to survive, even if it means supping with devil and to keep its supporters in line.

In the present system, the voter’s choice, is limited to the devil, or the deep sea, as it is the political parties on the basis of winnabilty decide, as to who will be its choice to contest elections.

It is not to say that bureaucracy is all pure and honest. In Mining Scam, the Reddy Brothers Ministers in Karnataka are already in jail for nearly 6 months. The question which remains unanswered is that all bureaucrats, irrespective of the service, to which belong want plum post, which can be given only by the powerful politicians. So if one bureaucrat does stand up for honesty, probity and law, there are umpteen numbers, which are willing to fill in his place. All do not follow the same set of principles

The climate in the country has been aptly summed up by Justice AK Ganguly. Formerly of the Supreme Court who observed “The corrupt are unit­ed and judiciary alone cannot take them on…. It has to be a collective effort…

Judiciary has been a forum where common man’s rights are upheld against corrupt gover­nance. With civil society move­ment, against corruption gain­ing’momentum, even politicians are announcing that they do not want people with criminal back­ground to fight elections… The 2G scam is a fall out of the executive failure on gov­ernance front” Incidentally, he was part of the Supreme Court bench that can­celled 122 2G-spectrum licences given to various companies at throwaway prices in January 2008 during then telecom min­ister A Raja’s tenure.

The delivery system, that is the Indian bureaucracy has let the country down, along with some corrupt politicians and rulers. Of course, there are honest politicians and officers, as otherwise, we would not have, even a semblance of progress. But a report has shown that public servants received Rs 21,068 crores as bribe, apart from cuts from several government schemes in one year. Between 1996 and 2000, the CBI and the Central Vigilance Commission investigated 13,265 individuals for corruption. And between 1998 and 2001, the CBI registered 2,256 cases under the Prevention of Corruption Act. Of these 41 were from administrative departments, four were from the police and 23 from the revenue department. This is a drop in the ocean, when the total number of government and public sector employees in the states and the Centre runs to 197 million.

Despite the Government possessing vast powers to dismiss the dead wood and the dishonest, it has never taken an such action, where even bureaucrats with hundreds of Crores worth of assets have been caught .

It is because of lack of political will and for not having the guts to take bold decision. A report says that the Government can review the performance of any buraucrat after 15 years and send him home, if he or she is found unfit on the basis of his or her Annual Confidential Records.

I have seen in nearly four decades of service, that hardly anybody’s work is classified as unsatisfactory. This is to avoid any hassle of giving an adverse confidential report and then justifying the same, when an appeal is made. It is usually seen that almost all appellate authorities, with few honourable exceptions, tend to accept all such appeals.

The present position is Government is riding a dead horse of governance consisting of insensible bureaucracy and corrupt politicians. The correct approach would be, that when you discover, that you are riding a dead horse, the best course of action is to dismount.

However, what the Government is doing, is changing riders,, appointing a committees, after committees and Commissions after Commissions to study the horse, arranging visits to Western Developed countries to see how other cultures ride dead horses, lowering the standards so that dead horses can be included, reclassifying the dead horse as living-impaired and hiring outside contractors to ride the dead horse, or Harnessing several dead horses together to increase speed or providing additional funding and/or training to increase the dead horse’s performance or doing a productivity study to see if lighter riders would improve the dead horse’s performance, or declaring that as the dead horse does not have to be fed, it is less costly, as carries lower overhead and therefore contributes substantially more to the bottom line of the economy than do some other horses. It also promotes the dead horse to a supervisory position, both for bureaucrats and politicians ( Appointing OSD that is Officers Without Duties and dumping the politicians to sinercures like that of the Governors or Chairmen of Various Commissions). Post retirement posts are galore as almost all Commissions and Committees are filled with the retired bureaucrats.

Infact, while making rules, this is built in that for a particular job, a person must have been a Secretary or Additional Secretary or Joint Secretary Level officer. This is a farce and a comedy as many serving officers do not have even half day’s work and the favoured lot are over loaded and over worked. First reform that the Government needs to do, is treat retirement from a Government service as final, and not an extension of ten or twenty years.

A shocking newspaper report reveals, that some people in 80’s are still on some Committees, though they cannot even walk and are confined to bed. Probabaly, even the Government has forgotten about such Committees and Commissions The current position is that if you are a Yes Man and keep your political boss pleased, you can be sure of landing in a job of either a Regulator, or Head Committee or be Consultant or Join some Commissions. Probably, there are more retired officials at the senior level in Government Jobs, in different garbs, than those serving in it.

As people with the pre conceived notions and set methods of working are retained as advisers or counselors, the working of the Government continues to be effete, lifeless and unresponsive. However, if we listen to the speeches of the rulers or others politicians, both in season and out of season and elections, and if we get one-tenth of what is promised , there would not be any inducement to go to heaven. Our rulers must remember that good governance and modernity cannot be imported, to make up governance deficit in integrity or honesty in the administration. It is rather overdue that our systems and institutions remain relevant to the time to serve the Nation. Sophocles rightly said that “I have nothing but contempt for the kind of governor who is afraid, for whatever reason, to follow the course that he knows is best for the State.”