August 5, 2014
In the previous blog post I provided comments by Rajput and Vinay Shankar (IAS, retired) on my strong recommendations regarding revamping the governance system of India.
Essence of Rajput's view
"IAS has become a bunch of "BABOONS", totally subservient to the corrupt rulers and politicians, who have shown no initiative, no new ideas and no improvement to reform the crippling system of red tape and bureaucracy that waste years of a citizen's life making him a coolie or moron in the end. Like the ministers, they, too, are corrupt, dishonest and unreliable.
"Nehru, instead of liberating the natives from the crushing load of red tape and bureaucracy he let the IAS create more and more ingenious ways to tie the natives down under pestering rules and regulations. Bribery and corruption flourished. Countless capable Indians (NRI’s) left the native shores, seeking freedoms abroad.
"I do not agree that IAS should be abolished. I am not clear whether you endorse what Sanjeev says or Sanjeev echoes your views [Sanjeev: These are my views based on learnings both academic and practical. My father - because of whose regard for the IAS I joined it, instead of becoming a painter or doctor which were my first preference - has incrementally learnt about them and understood them. He now strongly endorses them].
By simply wishing that an alternative system will be free of corruption, be epitome of efficiency and effectivenesss, it will not become so.
In a democrcy, it is the collective character of the people that is reflected in all institutions – political and bureaucratic.
Even if you abolish IAS, other central services will remain.
In a democracy, the craftsman is the political executive. If he is skillful, he will sharpen the tool and make it fit to do difficult job easily. If he is inefficient, he will blame the tool.
My thesis is that our consitution was unsuited to the socio-economimc conditions of the country prevailing in 1950 and it continues to be so. It has thrown up in to power the scum of the society and the really talented, sincere, committed people in to resignation and helplessness. It needs to be rewritten by a new constitutent assembly. new Constitution will come up with a new scheme of bureaucracy."
SO WHAT PRECISELY AM I SAYING?
First, I'm NOT saying that the IAS must be abolished in one go. I've clearly outlined a transitional plan in which the senior roles of the IAS will be incrementally replaced with highly paid but fully accountable contractual positions. Thereafter a thin layer of permanent service will remain – perhaps promoted (maximum) to the rank of Under Secretary to the GOI. But there will be NO tenure, even at this level. Whether it will be called IAS or something else is a matter to be considered in the future. Details are provided in BFN.
Second, there is absolutely no intent to retain any tenured central service. These too, will be incrementally replaced by a modern, performing service.
In each case, the best officers of these services will be eligible to be appointed (upon resignation from their tenured service) to senior roles – as part of open competition. This competition will NOT be run by the government but will be run by the concerned Secretary or his/her delegate for EACH individual post.
Third, I'm NOT saying that the IAS reform is the only solution that will fix India's governance. In terms of political reforms, and the urgency for change, it is ELECTORAL REFORMS that take priority. I've put them first in my book, for that's the soul of reform. Without creating a system in which good people are able to participate we can't possibly hope to clean up India's governance.
Fourth, I'm with Rajput. I left the IAS after meeting MANY senior IAS officers to whom I offered reform proposals. NONE of them were either willing to ask questions or discuss these proposals. Their entire "contribution" to India was to tell me that none of my proposals can be implemented in India because the politicians won't agree to them. But they REFUSED to undertake ANY due diligence to examine such reform proposals (e.g. negative income tax model to eliminate poverty – in the well-thought out manner I had proposed).
The IAS is the most incompetent bureaucracy in the world. That is totally undeniable.
Fifth, I agree with Vinay Shankar that a new Constitution is needed in India. I've thoroughly critiqued our Constitution in my book. However, we can't wait till such an assembly is established, to reform India's governance. Most reforms I've proposed can be implemented without any major change in the Constitution. Only Article 311 is one major stumbling block which should be eliminated as soon as possible. We need the SAME labour laws for the private sector and public sector. India is perhaps the only nation in the world with different labour laws for public servants (these are called service laws) and private sector employees. Across the world there is only one type of employee. All employees should have the same rights and obligations under the law. Not two different set of laws.
I had personally given a talk to Vinay Shankar and other senior retired officers of Palam Vihar, Gurgaon, a few years ago, but none had the patience to ask questions. They are typical babus who have long ago shut their mind and are of no particular use to India.
If ANY babu asks questions, he, too, is capable of learning. But babus are "know-alls". And that's how they destroy India, each day of their life.
THE GOOD NEWS: It is not just me who's been harpring on this for the past 15 years. I discovered that T. Chatterjee, Director (and head) of the Indian Institute of Public Administration has also recently published a note promoting the idea of dissolution of tenure.
Well, now there are two of us (former IAS officers) demanding the end of the IAS (tenured). I hope others like Vinay Shankar will soon see the light of day and ASK questions, instead of shutting their mind to new ideas.