Saturday, June 1, 2013

No Democratic Country Can Progress So Long As Its Administrative Services Are Resistive To Change: Something For India To Take Note of !

Modern democratic systems have evolved in such a way that they have two main types of people occupying the administrative organizations:

1. The elected Representatives of the people, called the politicians, who become organizational heads of various governmental organizations or ministries for some time as long as they have the people's mandate.

2. The permanent appointees occupying the service posts called the bureaucrats who are heads or in charges of various offices or functions, subordinate to the political bosses.

So the governmental administrations are carried out by organizations of people with varying degrees of power and authority. The power and authority of the people in these administrative organizations are generally supposed to be  increasing as one goes higher in the organizational set up. But the higher levels of governmental organizations are composed of individuals who do not occupy those posts for a relatively shorter period which could be anything between a few days to a maximum of five years.  

This is true for the republic of India, which has been in existence for the last over six decades as a democratic nation. However, peoples' aspirations seem to be neglected fully in  democratic India and such neglect seem to be on the rise as years pass.

Take for example the following:

1. India has not added much to its railway infrastructure. The progress is pathetically low as compared to other nations such as China. Same is the case with roads, sea ports and airports. Moreover, the quality of the existing infrastructure has not improved much in comparison to modern development in other countries and the development has not at all kept pace with the growth in population.

2. Nothing much has happened in the literacy rate. One third of Indians even in this modern era do not know reading and writing. While most of the countries in the world have made remarkable achievements in this field, India still maintains the poorest pace with regard to general literacy growth.

3. Nearly half of the population, a whopping 600,000,000 Indians, are pathetically poor as per world standards. The performance of Indian rulers who ruled for six decades is extremely poor if one compares this period with a similar period before independence when India was under the foreign bosses !

4. India has not achieved much in health care and social security systems. Neither its performance in environmental aspects anything worth mentioning.

5. The law and order system and the judicial systems are degraded versions of the systems originally made by the foreigners. No one can safely say that these systems are any  better in independent India !

7.  There are not any noteworthy contributions from the 1200,000,000 Indians in the field of science, sports or any other field in the last six decades as compared to other nations, commensurate with the population.

What could be the reason for this kind of a situation for this nation which is other wise blessed with one of the most fertile and hospitable terrains in the world ?

Is it the over population ? I don't agree. The high population should be the most advantageous situation for any country to develop at a much faster rate, provided there is a proper management system in place !

Is India inherently poor ? No, never. India is potentially rich. Only thing is that the Indians who are at the helm of affairs are people who either do not have the talents to tap the potential or are not placed properly to accomplish it. How can a driver drive a car, when his owner does not allow him to drive ? How can a scientist do some meaningful research when his boss does not understand the ABCD's of research ? How can an IAS secretary with basic education in History understand the nitty gritty of the Aviation sector and make his minister boss with basic education in say, Law, take appropriate decisions for the Aviation sector of the country ?

The problem with India is that it is having many administrative systems manned by people who are not competent with relevant knowledge and training to understand the problems and take appropriate decisions in their respective areas.

A government secretary who is meant to advice political boss who is not an expert is himself or herself a non expert. Same is the case with his or her subordinates who come from the same  administrative services. Someone who was handling Child and Women Development yesterday could be handling Science and Technology the next day ! The political portfolios of ministers and their offices keep changing according to political compulsions every now and then ! How can the country have any consistency of rules and systems in such a situation ? Where is the time for any one to think for the people and the country ?

Then there is the lower rung administration with a permanent sort of set up. They are the same always irrespective of their political or bureaucratic bosses changing every now and then. They keep seeing many type of bosses and their whims and fancies to such an extent that after some years they lose all their respect to their bosses and take things for granted. They know that the top bosses are totally helpless without them. It is the latter who keep the files and who know the procedures. The minister or his secretaries can perhaps do any thing in such a situation other than touring and attending seminars or such other functions through out the country and also in other countries. A great deal of time is also spend in planning their tours and travels and public speeches. Where is the time for these so called heads to calmly think if at all they have such a faculty still working ?

Most often the top bosses act as post offices and parrots ! They mark the papers and files to down below functionaries and get reports made by the down below ones to read out elsewhere. The top, both bureaucrats and political bosses, in such a scenario degrade themselves to be led by others instead of they giving the directions. They degrade as spoon-fed babies and parrots in a very short time ! The only major decisions they seem to take interest would be the posting of people and allotment of work to those of their choice. Again, how they are making this choice to know the people in their vast administrative organizations is another interesting thing to ponder ! Of course, their interests in touring both within the country and outside remain mostly intact. Any files that they happen to take special interest would be those where their special interests are some how motivated by some one and it is well imaginable what such interests would be !

It would also be very interesting indeed to find out how the decision making files move in the administrative organizations of democratic India and who writes what in these files and how the ultimate decisions evolve !

Again, the administrative system of India is comprising of people of various degrees of calibre and character. While about half of the central administrative service officers get in to the service through the all India civil services examinations, another half get into it through departmental promotions from lower cadres. There is no harm in this kind of a system, except that it makes up a system with varying kinds of weaknesses and strengths in the organizational set up.

A senior IAS officer publicly stated the kind of officers that comprise the Indian system in the following manner:

1. Officers who are competent and honest !
2. Officers who are incompetent, but honest !
3. Officers who are competent and dishonest !
4. Officers who are both incompetent and dishonest !

I would like to add a fifth kind in the above : Officers who are competent, dishonest and destructive !

Unlike the system in the USA and some other progressive countries, the existing individuals in the service class decide how they should function or organized. They would not allow the existing system to be changed in any way that they construe as a possible threat to their own authority. Moreover, it is not wrong to say that the Indian administrative service officers have systematically captured most of the administrative authorities to themselves that it is not easy for their political masters with lower knowledge in such things to change the system even when they have a desire to do it !

In effect the politicians and the administrative bureaucrats naturally became complimentary to each other for keeping all the authority of actions to themselves, without knowing how and when to act for achieving results that are for the betterment of their nation and its peoples.

They are scared of losing their authorities and hence they would never ever ask any one outside their own fraternity for any possible advices even when they do not know what to do next or how to proceed next for the better. Being designated as the highest authorities of the land, it is not at all befitting for them to take expert guidance outside their fraternity. Even when they do such a thing at times, they never agree to any expert advice in-toto. If previous experiences are any indications, in India hardly any such things have happened which went totally as per the learned advice of the external experts !

Democracy and the incompetency of the political leadership in a way have proved a boon for administrative officers of the third, fourth and the fifth categories as mentioned above to twist the system the way they liked without any one hardly noticing. This way the bureaucracy, the guardians of the system, has practically fallen prey to self interest and greed rather than working as checks and balances for ensuring a proper democratic system.

Now-a-days a number of fresh high calibre graduates from reputed engineering, management and other such educational institutions are also taking up the civil services examinations of India seriously and getting into it because they have realized that no other service in India enjoy such vast powers. They work hard to crack the tough civil service exam, as if to capture power to enjoy an aristocratic life for the rest of their career, even when the salaries the civil services offer are comparatively much less to what they could have probably got in the multinational corporations !

I know that there are honest young men and ladies among them who are desirous of doing some thing better for the country, soon to get disheartened by the system which would not so easily allow them to perform the way they wanted. Soon their engineering and management learnings get diluted and forgotten as they hardly gain any thing in that front to augment their experiences. Their experiences would now be provided by the lower bureaucracy who knows how to mould their fresh and young masters ! Coupled with that and together with the pragmatic approach of their seniors under the physically active political system would now make these young and intelligent officers to enjoy the powers rather than use the powers for the benefit of the society at large, in a few years time if not happened earlier !

Can any one imagine any IAS officer, belonging to both genders, who had got in to the cadre due to their so-called high calibre, knowledge and determination to crack tough competitive examinations, would turn out to be so corrupt and greedy later in their career that they can amass hundreds of crores of rupees by illegal and corrupt practices using their authority ? Perhaps it is difficult for the common man to think that it is possible for these wise men and women to do like that. But it is happening in India ! It proves that the possession of any high genius or cleverness is not  a substitute for true character.

India needs people of high calibre and character at all levels if it has to compete with other nations in development. Otherwise, its 1.2 billion odd people would never be able to achieve anything worthy because they are administered and managed poorly by a faulty governmental system composed of a mixture of people of all sorts without any efforts any where for getting the best management and leadership !

Indian system does not show any dynamism and is so reluctant to changes. The key decision makers in the system would not allow any novel ideas to be adopted if they have their way. They will be the last ones to support or do some mentoring for any one who has novel ideas for the country. But if any one authority does that by some accident, they are the ones to do the lip service and pampering to that high degree that the person concerned would slip and fall without achieving anything !

I always wonder this ! Why most in my country clamour for high posts and positions without ever having any agenda to do any thing good for the rest of the society using their positions of power and clout ! Why are they so to cling to power positions when they know for sure that they could not use their power in any manner because of their possible ignorance and incompetence ? Is moving in beaconed cars accompanied by some uniformed men with arms, such a big attraction ? The Indian public has long adored the powerful policemen and the uniformed security personnel. So getting in to a position where some of those kinds show obedience is indeed a great reward for many Indians that they can go to any extent of getting into such positions ! Hardly ever they realize that these spoiled and hard worked uniformed men are cursing them throughout and are waiting for an opportunity to pounce on their harassers if ever an opportunity comes !

The breakdown of the Indian law and order situation  is due to this aspect whether the so called administrative experts admit or not ! The bosses, have neither the time and the free brains to think of this eventuality and to make a system of dedicated and duty-bound security personnel ! The more they try mechanically, the more these men become ragged with a burning malice towards all in the society.

Our bureaucrats do not realize this saying : Never harass the cook who cooks the food for you ! But they keep doing it and keep eating the food the harassed ones keep making for them ! Should I say how it is made ?

I am not making this lengthy. The Indians need to learn to behave as human beings of a modern society. Especially the Indian bosses- whether they belong to the governmental administrative systems or any other kind. It is indeed the bosses who can shape the fate of a society and hence the bosses need to have these two  C's  in their hearts and brains : Competence and Character !

If they have those, they would not be scared of making any changes and trying out new systems and practices and using their brains. They would then learn to be generous, broadminded and with a determination to do good for the society they lead ! They would not like to cling to their seats of power and position when they cannot possibly act to do good for the society and the nation. They would gladly allow others who can do it better.

And that is the essence of democracy !


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