By Rupesh Dutta
The people of India have given a huge mandate to the present BJP-led NDA Government to give a big push to reformation of various sectors in the country. However, we all know that the biggest hurdle to reformation in India is excessive red tapism and bureaucratic control of sectors that require specialisation. In a way it makes no sense that important organisations like the Army, the Navy and the Air Force should be controlled by an IAS officer. Likewise technical Central Ministries should be headed by non-IAS officers as unlike the 20th Century where there was very less automation, the 21st Century is the age of specialisation and technology will play a very important role in defining the future of a country.
Whereas the British Raj system of bureaucracy that has prevailed in our country for so many years has done enough damage to the socio-economic development of this great country, the British and for that matter almost all the developed nations in the world have now gone in favour of corporate culture rather than bureaucratic culture.
However, in our country the bureaucracy still tries very hard to control all cadres recruited under UPSC and now services like IFS, IPS, IRS, IES etc have been pushed to the corner more so because the Department of Personnel and Training(DoPT) which controls all the UPSC recruited cadres are all manned by IAS officers and therefore all the grievances of all other services are being outrightly ignored thus making India a world champion in bureaucracy. In some North Eastern States some of the Chief Secretaries are of Joint Secretary rank whereas traditionally the senior most or next senior most IAS officer within the State cadre should be chosen as the Chief Secretary.
Similarly many officers are becoming principal secretaries at very young age in the State Governments leaving no room for officers from other UPSC services to come on deputation. In short this is how IAS are controlling both Central and State Governments. To make the matter worse some posts like Finance, Home, Personnel and Administrative reforms and Planning are strictly en-cadered for IAS officers in State Government leaving no room for other UPSC cadres to penetrate and in Central Government Departments only IAS officers in DoPT decides who should be Secretary or additional secretary or Joint secretary of a Department and the Cabinet Ministers who have very little knowledge of how bureaucracy works normally agrees with whatever proposals that is being placed by IAS officers. Therefore there is a need to post officers from Army, Navy, Air Force, IPS, IFS, IRS, IES etc in DoPT and the selection process for the post of Secretary, Additional Secretary, Joint Secretary etc should also include officers from Defence and non-IAS UPSC cadres as they too have undergone the same rigorous process of recruitment through UPSC. At the State level there is a need to clearly define the minimum years of service for the post of Chief Secretary, Additional Chief Secretary, Principal Secretary, Secretary etc and en-cadrement of posts should be withdrawn immediately to allow officers from other UPSC recruited cadres to come on deputation.
Till such time the reformation of bureaucracy is done both in Central and State level the dream of making India a super power or a developed country will not happen and India as a country will be known the world over as a bureaucratic super power or bureaucratic world champion.
Meanwhile the steps taken by the current BJP Government in bringing specialists as Joint Secretary through lateral entry is an excellent step and more management experts, specialist, scientists and corporate professionals should be brought as Joint Secretary is every Ministry and if required even at the level of Additional Secretary and Secretary.
Perhaps it is high time that India as a country make a special study on how bureaucracy works in developed countries like Japan, US, UK, France, Germany, Singapore etc by engaging renowned international consultants otherwise the present boring bureaucracy will continue to say that Indian bureaucracy is the best in the world and we will remain a backward country in spite of having tremendous human resources.
The world today is moving towards business corporate culture where economic strength prevails over military strength and it is felt that as long as the BJP led Government allows bureaucracy to control the defence forces and suppress all other specialised UPSC cadres and corporate world, the people of this country will feel that the mandate given by the people to the BJP led Government for quick reformation is by and large getting defeated and people in general will continue to feel that any Government is the same and life goes on as usual without any meaningful changes in their life time.
Thus the big question still exist as to why the Government which is now having huge majority in the parliament is hesitating in bringing officials from defense forces and other UPSC recruited cadres in decision making process and the bigger question remains whether the democracy we have is controlled by politicians or by the all powerful bureaucracy.
(Rupesh Dutta is a Delhi based journalist and can be contacted at Rupeshdutta@yahoo.com)