Bureaucracy

What is the main requirement to change the bureaucratic system of India?

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Beginning of the license raj, even and before that the Bureaucracy has devised various ways to harm the national interest. It is more apt to say that the Bureaucracy has devised ingenious method to harm the national interest and manipulate in a manner that the ultimate blame lie on the politicians and the government. 26/11 was not a policy failure, it was the failure of the people not to be able to, not to be willing to and not having the capability to implement policies in national interest.

It is indeed an irony that the country's economy has grown up, looked up, brightened up and moving forward. Despite all we may not have tasted development, but at least we are tasting growth, and all this despite the bureaucracy. Indian economy is growing at a rate of over 7% despite the bureaucracy. The bureaucracy has not managed the aviation sector despite the enormous inertia being available by way of Air India….. so what ? Aviation sector developed without that. The bureaucracy has almost completely devastated the Shipping Industry……. so what ? Indian exports have picked up. HEC, Ranchi and other public sector units have fallen from grace……. so what ? a lot of state-of-the-art industrial centres have come up that mock HEC. Every road-block the Bureaucracy can put up, despite that the road transport has shown growth – qualitative as well as quantitative. The Indian film industry has grown in universal appeal despite the bureaucracy; the quality of education (read information and literacy) has improved at least quantitatively if not value wise.........despite the bureaucracy. If so many things have shown an improvement inspite of obstacles put by bureaucracy then its left to anyone's imagination what would have happened with a responsive, efficient bureaucracy having a feeling for the country. The country's economy would have shown a progress unparallel in the whole of Asia.

A fall out of the existing corruption and red tapism is very detrimental to the Indian economy in the long run, as foreign investors in a rapidly global, economies of the world view entering into India as a challenge and plagued as it remains both with political and bureaucratic corruption as well systematic inefficiency which leads to long turn around period as project delays cause cost escalations in volatile market economies. Also in the recent years, several corrupt economies of Asia have faced setbacks, after the wave of economic upturn faded, this makes the urgency of corrective measures more than evident, they make it an imperative.

The only asset we have with ourself is our demographic dividend and time to take our country into 21st century with dignity. The bureaucracy with dilatory tactics and tapism more than capable of not only damaging but super damaging the economy.

Bureaucracy shows every ability, willingness and zeal to damage the psyche of the people and they have not only reasonably dented it, but are inflicting more and more damage to it.

The greatest damage is by way of allowing people they serve to make them perceive as dispensing favours rather than really serving them. They behave as Indian Administrative Masters rather than servants. Given the abject poverty and illiteracy, a culture of exaggerated deference to authority has become the norm. Obviously, this approach is not citizencentric. The reasons for the government not being citizencentric is primarily attributed to the attitude and work of the bureaucracy. Of course, there are other factors that are also responsible, such as the deficiencies in the existing institutional structures and also to some citizens.

Once selected and also by virtue of training, their company, the pressure by the peer group, not to speak of the constitutional protection, just as they get into the bureaucracy they start feeling superior, and in order to maintain that superiority they start suppressing any new idea, new innovation and consequently the rise of any talent. The emergence of any new talent undermines the brand IAS. The degree and amount of innovation promotion that the government thinks of, hardly gets implemented.

Unlikely to appreciate and encourage talent merely by being facilitator, the bureaucracy is often rude and insulting by showing an ignominious attitude. This is not only very derogatory to the citizens, it discourage them to no end. Having not stopped at deriving pleasure out of it, they continue in whatever capacity they can truly mindful of the consequence it is likely to have on the masses.

Innovation diffusion and management propels any civilisation toward a new sense of perception, new balance of perception, building new institutions, facilitates new institutions, new fresh thinking as well as prevent the death and decay of old institutions. Institution-building should have been more smooth, more progressive, more global as well as adhering to the roots of preservation of local wisdom, local cultures. Unfortunately this sense of responsibility towards the country and the humanity had not found in the workings of the bureaucrats. This only showed lack of love for the country and/or its people, as well as its past.

One pitfall of such a suppression of is the loss of opportunity for the general masses for the citizens. Indeed the bureaucracy wants to scuttle out any existence of opportunity which can allow the citizens to reach some height of success. They simply do not want to facilitate any equality of opportunity.

While the laws made by the Legislature may be sound and relevant, very often they are not properly implemented by the bureaucracy. The institutional structure provided at times may be also weak and ill-conceived, and thus, has neither the capacity nor the resource to implement the laws in letter and spirit.

"The system often suffers from problems of excessive centralisation and policies and action plans are far removed from the needs of the citizens. This results in a mismatch between what is required and what is being provided."

Even the commission observed that the civil services and administration in general had become "wooden, inflexible, self perpetuating and inward looking." "Consequently their attitude is one of indifference and insensitivity to the needs of citizens. This, coupled with the enormous asymmetry in the wielding of power at all levels, has further aggravated the situation.

The argument that the IAS serves to promote the unity and integrity of the Indian nation, transcending cleavages and differences which form the basis for states' identities, seems much less convincing in the contemporary situation than it might have been at independence. The contribution of the All-India Services to cementing or safeguarding the Union cannot be reckoned as crucial, compared with the historical, political and cultural factors which make Indians feel that they belong to the same nation, whatever their differences. The efforts to make the higher civil service more representative through reservations are limited to a purely quantitative approach to national integration and do not transcend the social, religious and ethnic cleavages that divide Indian society. How could an elite administration itself affected by casteism, communalism and regionalism offer the perspective of a collective quest for common goals?

The IAS officers form a powerful lobby at the national level, and they will certainly resist any proposal that threatens their position, even when the objective is to make them more accountable to the public, especially by removing the constitutional protection given to them. The officers who fail in their mission to public service, the openly corrupt, the partisan, still enjoy the security of tenure guaranteed to them by the Constitution, which makes their dismissal very difficult. The partisanship of high-level civil servants goes against their mission of national integration. If nothing is done to increase the effectiveness of the IAS as a binding force of the country, and if, instead of contributing to national unity, its members deepen even more the existing social cleavages by their partiality, then the whole institution loses its raison d'etre.

When George Fernandes was the Defence Minister, he came across a very insensitive response of the bureaucracy. The soldiers of Siachen had applied for snow scooter to have a vigil on the borders in the most hostile atmosphere along the LOC. The request lay with the bureaucracy for five years before it came to the notice of George Fernandes, that too when he himself once had the chance of visiting the region and came to realise the harsh realities. The bureaucracy was debating over the need for snow scooters for the armed forces for five years, and many soldiers lost their lives due to frost biting and cold.

If the Administration Services keeps the progress of the country to ransom, sit over the files catering to the supply of essential snow scooters to the Siachen soldiers, who protect the country, try to humiliate armed forces, reduce the dignity of the country as country's representative on a flight by entering into drunken brawl and trying to molest air hostesses; disrespect country's past and its culture, its people and population, advocate the same British who did not disguise their hatred of the country and its people, and propagate British form of culture by not pressing in censor for the choicest Anglo-Saxon "gaalis" and blanch at a word "saali", meanwhile faithfully allow the enemy countries to encircle India, despite knowing very well of its consequences or totally mindful of its consequences........This is where, China has been bullying us right now.

Any organisation, any institution, any business-house, or any service, which indulges in such a despicable deed, for all of them, the question is ……. Will any one do that if they love their country, and everyone will do that who are, “I, Me. Myself”

CIVIL SERVICES SELECTION-ISSUES AND SUGGESTIONS FOR REFORMS

BUREAUCRATIC SELECTION The present selection system in IAS: Its limitations & relevance for good governance

A good governance requires an efficient, coherent, amicable and smooth functioning of the coordination between the executive, legislator, judiciary and the civil services, supported by an awakened, enlightened and well informed citizens. The people select someone to represent themselves in an election mandate who frames policies for the welfare of the people, which is in accordance with the law or not, is analysed by the judiciary and then implemented by the government servants called civil servants. In order to implement the policies of the government, the chosen civil servants require to behave in a holistic manner having an idea about everything happening around them, so that they can administer the policies taking almost everything or maximum number of variables into account. Thus, these civil servants are not required to be any specialists rather they require to know something about everything, i.e., they are required to be generalists, who form the army of bureaucrats who supposedly 'run (or ruin)' the administration of the country. The bureaucracy has to dispense certain duties, handle a lot of responsibilities, help in governance, help frame policies of the government and that too with a feeling towards the countrymen, so that the policies bring about a holistic upliftment of the society and do all these require certain qualities. The bureaucracy requires a combination of human traits, personality traits and attitudinal traits. The identification of the bureaucratic tests, abilities, capabilities, its testing and ultimately its selection is done through a system of examination promoted by the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC). The UPSC tries to identify whether the candidates possess the desired qualities or not and on that basis recommends them to the Ministry of Personnel Affairs for their induction into Civil Services.

Had it been that the selection process of the UPSC would have been infallible, the chosen government servants would have been patriotic, intelligent, efficient, hard working, visionary, sensitive and understanding. However, the present corp of officials far from showing these qualities rather excel in qualities which are completely reverse and on the extreme. They come to earn money, which they start doing right from their early stage, they have a bloated ego, which gets a boost by qualifying and subsequently oil massaged in the administrative setting, they come with minimum feelings about the country which becomes dead.

Obviously then, something is wrong somewhere. There is a thorough mismatch between what is required, what is desirable, what type of government servants we get and how they work. The qualities that are desired of them, whether they have been tested, checked or is that, that they are picked up for wrong qualities.

An attempt in the following paragraphs is being made to understand these anomalies and make some suggestions for sustainable governance of the country.

To begin with, the civil servants don't require to be genius, intelligence is enough. A genius has its own ways, his/her thinking is completely out of the world. Genius are not part of the general masses, they do not care for the world and can be out and out a revolutionary. An intelligent person allows his logic and intuition to function in a balanced manner. He knows when actually to use his intuitive abilities and his logic. The present examination system particularly the Prelims lays more emphasis on the retentive capability, rather than on intelligence but its Mains examination has a good mixture of intelligence and retentive power capability. Indeed the people chosen are intelligent, talented, but whether they use their talent and intelligence for the right cause or not, leaves a lot to be desired.

Language for bureaucracy is not merely a test of only the reading and writing ability but a means of communication. It emboldens the bureaucrats' ability to draft letters, understand legality, communicate what is to be communicated to the masses without causing any offence , and prompt the reader to think beyond words. Language has never been the most important test for the bureaucracy, however at two levels of examination the ability of the candidates to communicate used to be checked-- the Mains level and the Interview level. Since the Mains answer require the candidates to faithfully reproduce rather than think originally, therefore to what extent the language was tested remains a question mark. Some interview boards go on to become quizzical. Consequently, their efficacy in testing the communication skill and language also remains to be seen. The induction of essay has been a good attempt to check the language of the candidates, and its comprehension ability. Still, the questions in the Mains require to test the analytical capability to a greater range by inducting complexities and to test the conclusive range of the candidates.

As part of the recent changes in the civil services examination system the welcome development has been the introduction of Interpersonal skill, including communication skill as part of CSAT. CSAT is an appreciable effort for the reason that the qualified candidates of the Services will not be required to be taught English language (Some four IFS candidates who though having qualified and not able to comprehend English had to be taught English separately for one year) and the non-expressive one will be eliminated right in the beginning.

One of the most important administrative traits is the organisation of thoughts and the capability to organise the thoughts. The more organised the thought of a person, the better are the possibilities of his becoming a better administrator. If not in the PT, surely in the Mains examination, and in the Interview the unorganisation of thoughts become a major hindrance. The candidate in no way can clear the Mains examination without this ability.

Only when the thoughts are organised, can there be any enhancement of analytical ability and that always helps a better judgement after a solid comprehension. The prelims test has introduced such questions and enlarged their numbers in the question paper as well.

However, the real test of analysis comes in the Mains. Fortunately, the scope of analytical questions has increased over the last two years to such an extent that the civil services examination has ceased to be only a test of reproduction. Some interview boards also test candidates’ ability to analyse but most of them still go on to be quizzical. After all, a quizzical interview is so easy, less strenuous and requires virtually no quality interviewer. Analysis, helps one to convert information into knowledge or use the tool of information for knowledge. Knowledge is the capability of using information, learning for a value based judgement on what is wrong and right, what is good and bad, what is desirable and undesirable, what is view and vision, and whether it is better to be short sighted, visionary or to be blind.

Unfortunately, knowledge is not really subjected to any realistic assessment at any stage of candidate's qualification scheme of things, as the perspective base of candidates is not subjected to any value based assessment. A selected candidate devoid of wisdom is bound to be poor in decision making, has to be short-sighted and irrational.

Even with a diverse perspective base, the candidate can be objective in thinking ready to balance perception. Any lack of balance of perception is bound to make the officer partial, show a lot of biases take a sectarian view, ally themselves easily to any ideology, political party and view. No test has been designed for checking the balance of perception and objectivity of the candidates in their thinking. Needless to say, the present corp of bureaucrats show every type of bias, sectarianism, casteism, regional bias and what not.

The UPSC could have better thought of advancing its thinking on CSAT as previously thought of, where it sought to check in the candidates’ "ethical, moral and analytical dimension in decision making" but the present form of CSAT is a good departure from its previous motive of testing ethic and morality.

The form of testing of ethics and morality is nowhere visible in the present format. Although it must be said that a design of test to check the ethics and morality in the candidates aptitude couldn't have been too difficult to assess and check. Asking the candidates to choose between "Monsoons are uncertain" and "Monsoon are unpredictable" and "Monsoon show high degree of spatial and temporal variation" would have indicated the candidates approach towards nature – whether critical or appreciative, whether ethical or consumerist. In turn such a designed test with the help of certain questions would have indicated the feelings of the candidate towards either nature or fellow human beings such a question would have a choice in the form of "A train accident killed 70 people or "70 talents of country, or 70 families devastated because of train accident"

Indeed, the bureaucracy must have a fair degree of sensitivity along with talent. Bureaucracy must be picked from the best in the country. Talents are easy to spot and identify. But it is difficult to find and identify candidates sensitive and benevolent vision for our country. The country's governance is bad not because of talents but because of the attitude of the bureaucracy. It is attitude that would have determined the progress of the country. Well being of oneself, positive thinking, progressive nature and the ability to identify and respect others as well as one's own talent comes with attitude. Attitudes have hardly been studied and/or they have got any precedence over talent. Talents can be spoilt brats, attitudes are always rational. Inability to have an attitudinal test or to design one or the lack of willingness has determined the dearth of attitude in the administrative manpowers.

A leadership trait in bureaucracy will help the bureaucracy take a lot of lead in initiative building, mobilising people, association building, developing consensus for far fetched concepts, furnish thinking and consequently improve the predictive power of the candidates. Incidentally none of these traits are associated with the present bureaucracy. They are perceived as leaders by virtue of the powers they hold, or they have, or the perception they build around them, or their subordinates who protect them to such an extent. They are not leaders by virtue of having it as one of the personality traits.

The present system of examination does not seek to test the leadership qualities of the candidates. Had it been, the initial screening would have been done on the lines of SSB, a complete picture of the perspective candidates would have emerged of the candidates who really had (the leadership qualities) in them. An examination system that is ostensibly meant to select the cream of the candidates from the country, grossly lacks on this count. The Prelims checks the information capability of the candidate, the Mains examination checks the candidates’ ability of to reproduce fact, the Interview of 30 minutes duration hardly gives correct information about the candidate. Had the present system of examination with a Prelims-Mains-Interview combination been very effective, we could have hardly seen the type of inefficient, incapable, short-sighted, corrupt and psychological dented bureaucracy.

The present CSAT related reform ostensibly to check the aptitude of the candidate must not be a departure from the initially thought out plan of testing, "ethical, moral and analytical dimensions in decision making." What the reform in prelims examination means or intended to mean can be known only when the Preliminary examination takes place with the new pattern. It will prove how far the Union Public Service Commission is sincere in its efforts to really design and bring out a test which could choose a bureaucrat with moral and ethical value, required at the crucial time that the country is passing through with scams in all the fronts…… be it telecom sector, banks, commonwealth games, space or judiciary……. and many more. In the Main examination, there is an urgent need to re-frame the syllabus and its content change along with a change in the way the questions are asked, so that the candidates who can only faithfully reproduce facts can be weeded away, and encourage good amount of thinking among the candidates so that they assimilate, account for and analise the situation, circumstance an the setting. Some subjects like that of literature and some social science subjects must not be encouraged, as they deter any improvement in the imaginative power, analytical capability of the prospective candidate or to infuse fresh thinking.

The scope of personality test have to be increased/ improved further and its weightage must – must be increased in terms of marks and its form changed to SSB type or evolve a dynamic, as well as customised variant so that in five-six days of time it really tests, the attitude and talent of the candidate that is not fake and which the candidate cannot camouflage.

By K. SIDDHARTHA