Friday, December 9, 2016

Empire Of Babus : Clearly, IAS reforms are essential - By Minhaz Merchant :

Much of the usurious corruption has sprung from the ministry of defence and the ministry of finance. The former controls large defence purchase budget.

When Narendra Modi became Prime Minister, he took two immediate key decisions. One, he disbanded the Groups of Ministers (GoMs) that had mushroomed to more than 20 during the UPA government. Two, he called a meeting of more than 75 senior bureaucrats cutting across ministries.

The message: you now have direct access to me. Work hard and work fast. The intent: to replace India’s notorious red tape with a red carpet — a Modi campaign promise. The outcome: the babus worked hard and fast for several months. Without tedious, interminable and often infructuous GoM meetings the bureaucracy became energised.

It didn’t last. The Indian bureaucracy is a unique animal. Created as the Indian Civil Service (ICS) by the British, it formed what Jawaharlal Nehru called India’s “steel grid”. The ICS morphed after Independence into the IAS but the change in alphabet hid the fact that real changes did not occur. The ICS had served an exploitative empire. The nomenclature it gave its officers gave the game away: for example, District Collectors were principally tasked to collect taxes from the districts.

After Independence, the IAS should have changed not only such honorifics (69 years later, it still hasn’t) but also its mission: to serve, not rule. The steel grid of the civil service has long rusted. Worse, it has been co-opted by unsavoury politicians. Most of the serial corruption scandals since Bofors in 1987 have had a political-bureaucratic nexus.

Much of this usurious corruption has sprung from the Ministry of Defence (MoD) and the Ministry of Finance (MoF). The former controls large defence purchase budgets. Bureaucrats with negligible knowledge of defence technology decide billion-dollar deals.

Extraordinarily, no officer from the army, air force or navy is attached to the MoD. Under a weak defence minister such as A.K. Antony, bureaucrats ruled the roost. The outcome was appalling on two fronts. First, kickbacks. Second, delayed decisions on fighter jets, battleships and even ammunition.

With a virtual war raging on the India-Pakistan border, the lack of ammunition was especially serious. India had to make emergency off-the-shelf purchases of ammunition, firearms, and other defence equipment from Israel and Russia worth over Rs 5,000 crore in September 2016 with delivery schedules ranging from immediate to three months.

Clearly, defence minister Manohar Parrikar must shoulder some responsibility for this appalling state of affairs. He has been in the job for two years and blaming Antony for all such lapses will no longer do.

Worse, MoD bureaucrats have continuously sought to sabotage relations with the armed forces. The latest ploy to downgrade military officer ranks with relation to civil service officers through a letter dated 18 October 2016 was nipped in the bud due to media pressure. The matter is now being resolved by Parrikar whose good intent is often stymied by slow reactions to events in his ministry.

Parrikar was proactive during the OROP imbroglio and passed the file in early 2015 over the heads of MoD officers. However, their colleagues in the MoF sat on the file for four months, fetching the government bad press — and the entirely avoidable distrust of the armed forces. Much the same bureaucrat -inspired shenanigans muddied the waters over rank-linked increments to the armed forces under the Seventh Pay Commission as well as disability compensation.

In each case, Parrikar - with Modi’s full support - had to firefight before righting babu-manufactured wrongs. The suicide of a jawan, Subedar Ramkishan Grewal, over OROP pension payments was quickly seized upon by opposition politicians Rahul Gandhi and Arvind Kejriwal.

The MoF has been a particularly malignant breeding ground for bureaucratic malfeasance. Apart from its role in OROP, disability compensation and the Seventh Pay Commission controversies, it has succeeded in keeping the worst legislation of the UPA government on the statute books: retrospective tax. 

Like Parrikar, finance minister Arun Jaitley must accept responsibility for not repealing this egregious tax that has diminished India’s global reputation. He has had three Budget opportunities to do so and has fluffed all three. Another Budget arrives in early February 2017. Jaitley should seize the opportunity or shoulder the opprobrium that accompanies the retro tax.

Modi is meanwhile trying to combat the bureaucratic inertia by setting up 10 Groups of Secretaries to conduct a mid-term review in December 2016 of the state of major projects ahead of the Union Budget.

Bureaucrats, of course, aren’t all inert. Some like Amitabh Kant, the CEO of Niti Aayog, have been agents of transformation. Many young IAS officers, posted in Maoist-infested areas, are brave, committed and selfless. The problem arises when Central postings beckon. The lure of the entrenched political-bureaucratic nexus with easy pickings, can tempt the best. Clearly, IAS reforms are essential. Modi’s attempts towards this end have been focused and patient but borne limited results. More drastic reforms must now be his priority as he enters the second half of his five-year term as prime minister.

This is what I wrote on IAS reform:“The second Administrative Reforms Commission (ARC), headed by former law minister Veerappa Moily, has not been implemented. The second ARC’s report is an outstanding document with over 15 closely argued, well-written chapters on reforming the bureaucracy. If implemented, it would transform the IAS and the quality of public services in India. 

In the spring of 1964, shortly before his death, Jawaharlal Nehru was asked in private by his closest colleagues what he regarded as his greatest failure as India’s first Prime Minister. Nehru replied: ‘I could not change the administration. It is still a colonial administration and one of the main causes of India’s inability to solve the problem of poverty.’”

One of the reasons India moved up just one place to 130 in the World Bank’s latest index of ease of doing business is the intransigence of the Permit Raj. Despite Modi’s efforts to cut red tape, India is ranked at 185 on getting “construction permits” and at 155 on “starting a business”. 

In the World Bank survey India does best on three parameters: “protecting minority investors” (13), “getting electricity” (26) and “getting credit” (44). Notably, all three have minimal inputs from bureaucrats. 

The moral of the story couldn’t be clearer.


This article was published in BW Businessworld issue dated 'Dec. 12, 2016' with cover story titled 'India's Super Rich 2016'

(Minhaz Merchant is the biographer of Rajiv Gandhi and Aditya Birla and author of The New Clash of Civilizations (Rupa, 2014). He is founder of Sterling Newspapers Pvt. Ltd. which was acquired by the Indian Express group : Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution).

(SOURCE :Via Gp e-mail from Col A Sunder Rajan (Retd):: BW Businessworld - http://businessworld.in/article/Empire-Of-Babus/08-12-2016-109387/ )

22 comments:

  1. Sharma sir,many are reading without comments

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  2. Sharma sir,many are reading without comments

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  3. Sharma sir,many are reading without comments

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  4. What an ordinary soldier got to do with IAS & bureaucracy .JCO&OR community does not and should not have any kind alliance with officers.The Editor of this blog,Mr.Gavin, I request you not to accommodate their articles here.Officers are not ex servicemen.They can take this camouflage else where to vent out their grievance

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  5. I am avid reader of this blog site. And fully agree with this article.

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  6. An analysis of facts, yet to be resolved

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  7. An analysis of facts yet to be addressed by the political leadership

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  8. Beware,the storm is gathering momentum and approaching fast, the corrupt should pull out their heads from sand and come clean, there is hardly any time left. Babus and their corruption, have been the bane of India and their game is about to get over. Cofiscation of Benami properties is soon coming with capital punishment-so RUUUUUN,BABY RUUUUU---N.

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  9. karunakaran a ex havildarDecember 10, 2016 at 4:40 PM

    The whole department including peoples representative act need reforms, it should be indianised, no punishment for wrong doers, what I feel even judiciary is little bit lenient towards the corruptions case, particularly in tamil nadu politicians vis-a-vis corruption related cases. in one case SC judgement reads, being public servant you have misused your good offices by amending the guidelines and procedures for procuring government property, and further judgement says that act of your misuse is not sufficient to punish you legally , atone your own heart and return of the property. see this is the judgement written by the honourable judges of supreme court
    when an ordinary man is seeing something unusual in the judgement

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  10. karunakaran a ex havildarDecember 10, 2016 at 4:41 PM

    The whole department including peoples representative act need reforms, it should be indianised, no punishment for wrong doers, what I feel even judiciary is little bit lenient towards the corruptions case, particularly in tamil nadu politicians vis-a-vis corruption related cases. in one case SC judgement reads, being public servant you have misused your good offices by amending the guidelines and procedures for procuring government property, and further judgement says that act of your misuse is not sufficient to punish you legally , atone your own heart and return of the property. see this is the judgement written by the honourable judges of supreme court
    when an ordinary man is seeing something unusual in the judgement

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  11. Modi ji may think to short out the attitude of Babu's mental set up to change theirs habits of Bossism / superiosm over army and democracy of this country. I am of the opinion that Modi Ji is a wonderful man to do this.

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  12. Good write up .My compliments to the blog and to Col Rajan for their effort of circulation and publication.
    The military as community of Indian Military Service (IMS) ,particularly intellectuals in IMS ,should be active and assertive.They should facilitate in forming public opinion on matters of military ,national defence and national interests.
    They should grow to come out of mind set and false notions such as sub serviance and drill sqare instinctive obedience on matters of national interests.
    Military has vast reservoir of experienced human resources and intellect.
    Induction of Some suitable ( very few ) , into higher levels of administration and as advisers to government to checkmate the ills of IAS lobby and monopoly as part of reforms is viable.

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  13. Well if the reforms are implemented.... The babus will need to change collectively and all will have to work.
    That's difficilt

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  14. Mr Minhaz Merchant, you are talking of reforms to correct the bureaucrats. Just watch out, they are coming with a new armour to protect themselves from corruption charges and this got the approval of the political bosses. Our Parliament is all set to change the Prevention of Corruption Act (PCA), 1988, into a law that can only be described as Protection of the Corrupt Act.
    The Hindu editorial dated 12 Dec 2016 may be refered at the following link for details:
    http://www.thehindu.com/opinion/lead/Time-to-blow-the-whistle/article16793830.ece?homepage=true

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    1. karunakaran a ex havildarDecember 15, 2016 at 1:20 PM

      SIR

      well said, our laws are more legislated and less implemented, very sorry state of affairs, in india rich rule the law and the law grinds the poor, in india a law has two sides one is to punish the poor and the next is to protect the corrupt politicians and babus

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  15. Sir, no doubt empire of babu's has become very powerful since independence, now they even do not care,s army power, and are trying to beaded down our brave army? Why they're given so freedom? It's the combination of corrupted system involvement,Modi Ji must look into this Army & Babu's gape of misunderstanding that who is more powerful? Army or a IAS

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    1. If the army officers are given the same power at par with IAS officers,can you imagine what would be the fate of India? I do not understand why do you want to compare IAS with army officers and what is the necessity?

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  16. Hi, how are you? I have seen your blog, and I received good information from your blog, Great information. Thank You Today News Update

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  17. IAS /IDAS/IRS/IES cadre to be abolished as these categories are wastage to common and poor people especially to our Defence Forces

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  18. No till now actual OROP has been given to Defence Forces personnel especially to Below Officer Ranks (JCOs and Below) and not to Officers as Officers are already got actual OROP in actual definition . Statement made by Prime Minister and defence Minister is absolutely wrong and misleading public since I am not having any politics or participating any political party even not yet vote to any party

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