Work in progress? – Priti Jain

There is nothing called absolute freedom in this world. We have freedom of speech and expression but cannot express what we honestly feel with a free will, at least in public; we also have freedom of movement and residence in any part of the Indian territory but get scorned by the regional politicians for migration. We got freedom from the British in 1947, but was it an absolute freedom? I’m afraid no. We, in the name of ease of functioning and wont adopted their Constitution, their Bureaucracy and Education system.

Though the constitution provides us with the know-how of our working, the bureaucracy is the working. It has fully been adjusted according to the need of our nation, but somewhere down the line we still get the reminiscence of the British Raj. We are well aware of their general apathy and indifference towards our needs, their red tapism and importantly their corruption levels. But delving into this will be a complete waste of our own time. It’s just like whining and grumbling about something we feel feeble about.  Instead, we need to vindicate ourselves with regards to the small role played in warming their pockets and indirectly encouraging this behavior. A strong negative point of the globalization with its new companies, brands and the likes is providing us with a choice. This includes not only the common man but also the not so common bureaucracy. Even if we are law-abiding citizens and staunch proponents of honesty, leaving no room for corruption, there always exists a rebel who will wreck the system. Well, sadly the proponent is the new rebel and the common man has succumbed to the ailing system.

We are generalists; we tend to fit everyone in the same umbrella for our ease of understanding. We think every politician is corrupt, every policemen rowdy and every bureaucrat a puppet in the hands of the politicians. We are not always right. It’s true that we sample out the whole population and then make our inferences; there is a need to look beyond that sample. Let me refresh your memory, the Robert Vadra land price misappropriation case brought forward an IAS officer Ashok Khemka. Working under the state of Haryana in the Land Consolidation and Records department, he picked up irregularities in the registration functioning of the department. This whistleblower was transferred to the Haryana Seed Development Corporation, adding one more to his 43 transfers in his 21 years of service. Harsh Mander, E.A.S Sharma, Aruna Roy, Kiran Bedi and many more can be added to the list of clean bureaucrats. They are continuously transferred, suspended or given voluntary retirement. These people are the outcasts in any governmental department; many take up social activism and keep up their implicit duty even after retirement.

The blatant misuse of the mechanism of transferring an officer to sustain the smooth functioning of the department leaves no space for improvement. Before an officer even adjusts in his office and insinuates a probe in a particular case of malpractice, he is shown the way out. Accountability and transparency are suffocating and barely surviving to give way for uninterrupted public service. The nexus between the politicians and bureaucracy is the most lethal weapon in the democratic arsenal. All the theoretic knowledge and idealistic principles go down the drain as they fall short of being pragmatic. This concept of being impractical is used so loosely and has become the perfect alibi for their incompetency.

The point where government goes wrong is just creaming the upper layer of the bureaucracy and relegating the lower classes which mainly include the clergies and the peons. The brewing inconsistency in their subsistent treatment stems the need for pocketing whatever they can lay their hands on. The bribery system has its own kinds of prey. The lower level hurts the common man’s sentiment and the higher level civil servants work during the pleasure of the political leaders. This in turn jeopardizes the efficiency norm of public functioning. The constant delay and hike in major programs, the sub-standard and shoddy state of infrastructural projects and the general anathema towards nosy bureaucrats leaves the system short of achieving international standards. It’s ironical how they talk of modernizing the system by adopting e-governance when they cannot get their basics right. Though, the use of e-governance can bring about accountability in the working of the system, nation-wide adoption is a long-term process. Achieving international standards should never be the prerogative of a government but trying to meet the expectations and needs of the citizens; jumping the initial levels will only bring out the hollowness of the planned initiative at a later stage.

The slogging public sector undertakings have been defaulting since the inception of the industrial policy and globalization. People say that privatization of these sectors is the way out, but this is just rationalizing the inadequacy of the government. Instead of squeezing the best out of the public servants and increasing their productivity, we are going for an easy replacement making way for a jobless growth of the economy; the better the technology, the bigger the replacement. Rejuvenating the sick companies instead of going for a sellout would be a better long-term policy for the government. Bureaucracy when used appropriately can be a catalyst in straightening the limping democracy; public welfare and stability become one of its many by-products.

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