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    March 2014

Bureaucracy derailed? 


The Indian bureaucracy, once regarded as the “steel frame” of the British Raj, now seems to have become rusty. The scams and scandals that are coming to light in the recent times have exposed the venality of politicians and bureaucrats. Rules are being flouted as per one’s whims and fancies.  Our Cover Story, which unfolds the conspiracy behind the “illegal” post-retirement extension to BHEL CMD B P Rao, is a reflection of how the administrative acumen has gone down drastically with bureaucrats ready as ever to curry favour with their political masters. About Rs 10 lakh crore of public money is being handled by the Government through public sector enterprises. The BHEL with an employee strength of 48,399 alone handles Rs 50,156 crore public money. But the vested interests in the Government are manipulating the top management of the PSU. The powerful and wealthy have appeared to be placed comfortably beyond the pale of the law.  The Government’s action in Rao’s case is not only a betrayal of the public aspiration but also undermines the effectiveness of other deserving employees in the PSU. There is not an iota of doubt that the arbitrary decision of the Government would erode the employees’ morale in the PSU. Can there be any explanation other than timorous self-interest for the Government’s action of trespassing the prescribed norm for favouring Rao? Or whether the bureaucrats involved in the scam failed to perform their duty because of the political lobby to which they eventually have to report. The same political lobby that ties their hands and gags their mouths. If yes, then what kind of a system of governance lies ahead?   It is a point to ponder why have things come to such a pass? And will it ever change? At a time when the Indian rupee is depreciating vis-à-vis the dollar, the Government is failing to attract foreign investors. It is the Government’s regulatory morass that is discouraging foreign investment and harming the Indian economy. It is high time our rulers worked towards making the Government more open and transparent. The writing is on the wall. A young India where 50 per cent of its citizens are aged below 35 years can ill-afford to ignore the suppressed restlessness and aspirations of its youth. At a time when the country has been facing a huge unemployment crisis for the past many years with the number of jobless youths increasing by the day, the granting of post-retirement extension behoves no one. It will do more harm than good. It is time the bureaucracy restored its professionalism based on absolute, not obsolete, principles. 

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