Saturday, 29 February 2020

Governance Political Leadership & Bureaucracy In India

Updated: November 27, 2010 10:59 am

The relationship between political leadership and the bureaucracy has been the subject of public debate since the rise of the concept of democratic governance. Oxford Dictionary defines the term bureaucracy as the “Government by state officials, not by elected representatives” and is derived from the Greek work “Bjuereo”. English word ‘Bureau’ originally means “writing desk or office or department”.

                In ancient India, except during a short period of the City State of Lichchhivies, the sovereign head exercised all the powers of the legislature, executive and judiciary. However with the advent of the British Rule, the British Parliament framed acts & rules initially to govern India through Secretary of State for India in Britain and the Viceroy in India assisted by his officials below the line without any interference from the political class.

                Political consciousness spread in India from the early 20th century with the English educated class having studied liberal western political philosophy of Roussou and John Stuart Mill, regarding the democracy and the Government “by the people, of the people and for the people”. The protracted struggle by political leaders of the day, compelled the British to introduce ‘Government of India Act 1935’ and for the first time in 1937 an elected Union government under Nehru and State Government in UP under Pant was sworn in but it lasted only for two years. The political executive, despite feeling uneasy with the higher bureaucracy, did not interfere in the working of the public servants in general. The legislature, political executive, public servants and judiciary, worked smoothly within their respective domains. At the same time the Constituent Assembly, in the process of framing the Constitution, provided a scheme of separation of powers of the legislature, executive and the judiciary but left out a clear division of the powers and functions between the political executives and the public services. It is an enigma as to why Dr Ambedkar, the then Law Minister and Chairman of the drafting committee had to tell the Constituent Assembly about the public services that “the Committee has refrained from inserting in the Constitution any detailed provision relating to services. The Committee considers that they should be regulated by Acts of appropriate legislature rather than by the Constitutional provision as the Committee feels that the future legislatures in this country as in other counties may be trusted to deal fairly with the services” but this trust has been betrayed by the political leaders during the last 60 years who could not even introduce a Bill on the subject for a full debate either in the Parliament or the State Assemblies or encourage a countrywide public debate on the issue. The Public Service Bill 2006 tabled once in the Parliament is yet to be passed. According to the arrangements made under Articles 53 & 154 of the Constitution, all executive powers of the Union & State Governments vest though in the President, but are exercised by the council of ministers who works through “officers subordinate” in Union or State governments under Articles 77 & 166 of the Constitution. To conduct Government business, Rules of Business are framed by the respective Governments which specifically define the role of the civil servant in transacting Government business but in practice and also sometimes in words, have become simply ritualistic without much substance, particularly in northern states in India due to prevalent feudalistic style of governance in the hands of political executive.

                In order to protect the public servants and to define the role of the public services, in absence of specific Laws & Rules thereunder, one has only to depend on the three Articles of the Constitution viz. 309, 310 and 311 to examine the norms of relationship between the two.

                Article 309 lays down that “conditions of service of persons serving the Union or the State, subject to the provisions of this Constitution, Acts of the appropriate Legislature may regulate the …. conditions of service (of those) appointed to public services and posts in connection with the affairs of the Union or the State”. The Constitution has thus termed the persons serving the Union or the State Governments as “public servant” and not government servant, as very often made out, and surprisingly, believed even by the functionaries and the people at large. It may, therefore, be concluded from the Article that:-

  1. a) While maintaining cordial relationship with the political executive and the elected representatives, it may not be necessary for a public servant to

tow the identical line of the party in power or the ruling executive.

  1. b) The public servant has a constitutional duty and authority to tender his unbiased, frank and considered opinion and advice to the political executive, keeping the public interest in view on the principles of the “greatest good of the greatest number” which is the basic concept of democracy.
  2. c) The Supreme Court in Vineet Narain vs Union of India and others (1988) quoted and reaffirmed the recommendations of Lord Nolan Committee about the public servant to discharge his duties with the sprit of (i) selflessness (ii) integrity (iii) objectivity (iv) accountability (v) openness (vi) honesty (vii) professionalism
  3. The Public Services Bill-2006 also recognised that the Civil Service should provide “good governance” as it is an “inalienable right of the citizens” in a democracy which should be “participatory and managed by Rule of Law, equity and inclusiveness” and the public servant should be “politically neutral, effective, efficient, professional, transparent and accommodative”.
  4. The Second Administrative Reform Commission (ARC-II) once again reiterated the same but it is yet to be seen whether the political executive in the States or at the Centre will ever show the determination and the will to pass and implement the Act, defining the rights and duties of the public servant and relationship between the two.

Dealing with the practical aspects of this relationship, it has also to be kept in view that India achieved Independence and adopted a democratic polity after a protracted political struggle for more than half a century, therefore, a feeling of mistrust and suspicion was inbuilt in the working which was exposed more and more when the political leadership became increasingly conscious of its powers, caste, group’s narrow and partisan interest and often coerced the public servant to do or to undo things which serve their vested interest. Our fragile political system after the first phase of our contemporary history on political governance from 1947-1968 was exposed when the then Prime Minister bitterly criticised the civil bureaucracy publicly, drumming that the “administrative machinery is a stumbling block in the way of country’s progress and country will be in rut if it followed the British system which did not mind as to which political party was in power and cannot meet the requirements of social and economic change along with socialist lines. The creation of an administrative cadre committed to our national objective (read party) is an urgent necessity”. Thus the concept of a committed public service, which is in contrast to the democratic governance, started to produce ‘yes men’, pleasing their political bosses, ‘crawling, where they were asked only to bend’ as observed by Shah Commission. The ruling political party often believes that the electorate’s popular mandate is in its favour and their party agenda is a mandate from the people whereas, it is well known that hardly 30 per cent of the total electorate cast their votes in favour of the ruling political party or the combine, therefore, the interest of the leftover 70 per cent has to be watched and protected by an impartial, conscientious and upright public servant, despite being criticised and harassed for their petty interests by those who belong to any political party.

                The question is often raised about the implementation of the policy based on the agenda of the ruling party by the public servant but from the above premise, it is clear that the public servant must give his frank and firm views advising the political masters. In case, the political executive takes a decision other than the advice given, the public servant is duty bound to implement it honestly with the best of his capacity. Similarly, the theory of the “Budgetary Sanction” often propounded, is a myth as it goes against the very spirit and concept of the democratic governance because the people elect the ruling executive with the expectation that they will work for the greatest public good of the greatest number, therefore, the public servant must stick to this principle.

                The real test of the values of the democratic governance is the working freedom to the field officers according to rules and procedures with honesty and integrity. They are often pressurised by the political leaders and have to face numerous problems due to day-to-day interference under the cover of party agenda, some times resulting even in the murder of those who refuses to oblige. The public servants, therefore, have to be protected from such elements, while performing their duties honestly.


700,000 REPUBLICS


John Samuel on Mahatma Gandhi’s vision of local self-government, and how far panchayati raj in India still has to go to realise that vision

The three-tier panchayati raj system of India is the largest experiment in grassroots democratisation in the history of humanity. There are around 3 million elected representatives at all levels of the panchayat system and now 50% of them will be women. They represent more than 240,000 gram panchayats, 6,500 intermediate tiers (block panchayats) and more than 500 district panchayats. The fact that the Indian system of local governance—the panchayat system—has its roots in the cultural and historical legacy of India makes it different from many other initiatives of decentralisation of governance.

                The idea of panchayats and sabhas has travelled a long way from institutions of traditional local governance to an important cornerstone in the Constitution of India. The 73rd and 74th constitutional amendments, arguably the most substantive amendments since the adoption of the Constitution, envisage panchayats as institutions of local self-governance. The three-tier system of local governance is also meant to build synergies between representative and direct democracy and participatory governance, resulting in deepening of democracy at the grassroots level. Though there is a huge gap between the promises of substantive local self-governance and the realisation of true political devolution of power, the three-tier panchayat raj system of local governance still offers the great possibility of transferring power to the people.

                Substantive democratisation works when all people are empowered to participate in governance, ask questions, take decisions, raise resources, prioritise the social and economic agenda for local development and ensure social and political accountability. Such a vision of democracy requires democratisation from below and a true devolution of power to the people. The nurturing of local democratic culture and local self-government would be the most important means to realise the promise of Indian democracy: an inclusive, capable, participatory, accountable and effective direct democracy at the grassroots level.

                Though the idea of local government was discussed and debated in the wake of the movement for freedom in India, it took 45 years after independence to make it a constitutional guarantee. While Gandhi argued for Gram Swaraj (village republics) and strengthening of village panchayats to the greatest extent, Dr B R Ambedkar warned that such local governments would be captured by local caste and feudal elites, perpetuating the marginalisation and exclusion of dalits and other excluded sections of society. The present three-tier panchayat raj system, with 50% representation for women and provision of representation for dalit and tribal communities, provides a much-needed space for inclusive democracy.

                In spite of the promises of grassroots democratisation, there are structural and political impediments to realising the Gandhian proposal for real Gram Swaraj. The idea of panchayati raj emerged through a series of policy proposals and processes after independence. The Balwantrai Mehta Committee (1957) came out with the first comprehensive policy proposals in the context of community development. Though the committee recommended early establishment of elected local bodies and devolution to them of necessary resources, power and authority, the primary thrust was on implementation of community development projects rather than true devolution of political power.

                Following the Balwantrai Mehta committee, four other committees in the next 30 years (K Santhanam Committee,1963, Ashok Mehta Committee,1978, G K Rao Committee,1985, and L M Singvi Committee 1986) made serious proposals to revitalise panchayat raj institutions as per the Directive Principles of State Policy mentioned in Article 40 of the Constitution of India: “The State shall take steps to organise village panchayats and endow them with such powers and authority as may be necessary to enable them to function as unit of self-government.”

                It took 45 years of political and policy process to move this from an aspiration of the Directive Principles to a justiciable guarantee of the Cconstitution. Apart from the 73rd and 74th amendments, the most important step towards grassroots democratisation is the Panchayat Extension to the Scheduled Areas Act, 1996, which makes gram sabhas(people’s committees/ meetings at the grassroots level) a viable means of direct participatory democracy.

                One of the major hurdles in realising the true democratic and political potential of local self-governance is the structural and systemic resistance by the bureaucracy and political elites in control of important state apparatuses. There is a tension between the instrumental value of Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRIs) in community development and project implementation, and the intrinsic value of PRI as strong political institutions with regulatory and administrative power, adequate funds and fiscal capacity. Following the Balwantrai Mehta Committee recommendations, PRIs were expected to be the main vehicle for community development projects. However, funding for community development projects had stagnated by the mid-1960s and panchayats stagnated without adequate funds and authority.

                Even after the crucial constitutional amendments, one of the major hurdles is that in spite of various measures to devolve administrative and implementing mechanisms to panchayats, there has not been adequate devolution of finance, functions and functionaries to the PRIs. A few states such as Kerala, Karnataka and Madhya Pradesh have made important steps towards this, though true devolution of political and financial power still remains far from being realised even here. In a dissenting note to the Ashok Mehta Committee report (1978), one of the members of the committee, EMS Namboodiripad, made a very pertinent remark:

                “Democracy at the central and state levels, but bureaucracy at all lower levels—this is the essence of the Indian polity as spelt out in the Constitution… I am afraid that the ghost of the earlier idea that panchayat raj institutions should be completely divorced from all regulatory functions is haunting my colleagues. What is required is that while certain definite fields of administration like defence, foreign affairs, currency, communication etc should rest with the centre, all the rest should be transferred to the states and from there to the district and lower level of local administrative bodies.”

                Even now, one of the key challenges is the transition of PRIs from mere local-level implementing agencies to real local self-government institutions with political, financial, administrative and regulatory powers in setting the agenda for local social and economic development.

                There have been some very bold initiatives, like the People’s Planning Process in Kerala, that point towards the potential of people’s participation in local self-governance and the possibilities of panchayats. In spite of a few such innovative initiatives to strengthen PRIs and people’s participation, there are still major structural challenges to make them the vehicles for substantive democratisation at the grassroots level. Some of them are to do with the very architecture of the governance process in India and some of them are to do with the character and nature of political power in India.

Some key challenges and issues are:

         The challenge of transforming PRIs as the location of countervailing power of people to claim their rights and demand direct social accountability.

         The potential for PRIs to become the key vehicles for social transformation by ensuring the active agency and participation of women and marginalised sections of society. Such a role for PRIs would help women and marginalised sections of society to assert their political space and demands for an inclusive social and economic agenda.

         There seems to be a strong link between a vibrant local democracy and human development, as there would be more strategic allocation and effective expenditure of resources to promote primary healthcare, education and sustainable environment. However, PRIs play a lesser role in ensuring quality primary healthcare and education at the grassroots level.

         The success of PRIs is also influenced by the effective delivery of basic services to the poor and marginalised sections. Hence, the macro-policy framework, that ensures the right to livelihood, is critical to the success of PRIs as an important vehicle for poverty eradication.

         Devolution of finance, particularly untied funds, is crucial to the success of PRIs as the means for local governance.

         Deliberate efforts to remove the administrative, legal and procedural anomalies would be important to make PRIs effective.

         PRIs offer the most effective means for social accountability and transparency. Hence, devolving financial control to them would help reduce instances of large-scale and entrenched corruption. The Eleventh Finance Commission, analysing the issue of centre-state financial relations, highlighted the need to strengthen the finances of local bodies. Hence, there is a need to have broader finance reform to ensure fiscal devolution through the national and state finance commission.

The experience of Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka and Uttar Pradesh demonstrates that the transfer of funds, functions and functionaries would be critical to effective decentralisation. An effective policy framework for decentralisation from above needs to be complemented with social mobilisation and democratisation from below. In Kerala, social mobilisation through neighbourhood groups and women’s groups such as Kudumbasree, proved to be an effective means to strengthen the demand at the grassroots level and facilitate the participation of women and marginalised groups in governance.

                Democratisation at the grassroots level requires space for the voices of the poor and marginalised to be heard through networks of social mobilisation. Such a space for participation, demand for effective delivery of services, and demand for accountability, can strengthen the process of socio-political empowerment and capabilities of the poor. A human rights-based approach to governance is crucial for grassroots democratisation. Hence, empowerment of gram sabhas is critical to the claiming of rights and asserting the voice of the marginalised and poor. Unless the legal and administrative hurdles that often constrain the effective role of the gram sabha are removed, the potential of the PRIs will not be realised. It is important to recognise that there are entrenched pathologies of caste discrimination, patriarchy and identity-based political dynamics at the grassroots level. It is thus very important to have a safeguard mechanism to ensure transparency and accountability. There can be systematic efforts for participatory governance assessment such as social audit and people’s report card, to make sure that PRIs are not captured by the elite or by one political party or group.

                While PRIs are still a work in progress, there are many initiatives that undermine the role of PRIs. For example, more than Rs 2,000 core is spent annually through the Local Area Development Fund of MPs and MLAs. Most of these funds are spent independent of the social and economic priorities of the PRIs. Such parallel systems of financing can undermine the real governance role of PRIs, according more powers to the elites of a particular political party and to bureaucratic elites at the district level.

                There is also potential for PRIs to become the primary institutions for disaster mitigation, sustainable development, and water conservation, facilitation of local economies and creation of employment opportunity at the grassroots level through small and medium enterprises that make use of the local natural and agricultural resources.

                The 73rd and 74th amendments provide us a unique opportunity for democratisation, social accountability, effective service delivery, poverty eradication and reduction of corruption and a more participatory democracy. In spite of all the economic growth, there is still entrenched poverty and social and economic inequality in India. When there are islands of prosperity, surrounded by a sea of poverty and inequality, the real participation of everyone as equal citizens would be more challenging than it is assumed. We may have to go miles before realising Gandhi’s dream of Gram Swaraj:

                “Every village has to become a self-sufficient republic. This requires brave, corporate and intelligent work…I have not pictured a poverty stricken India containing ignorant millions. I have pictured an India continually progressing along the lines best suited to her genius. I do not, however, picture it as a third class or even first class copy of the dying civilisation of the west. If my dream is fulfilled everyone of the 7 lakh villages becomes a well-living republic in which there is no illiteracy, in which no one is idle for want of work, in which everyone is usefully occupied and has nourishing food and well-ventilated dwellings, and sufficient khadi for covering the body and in which all villagers observe the laws of hygiene and sanitation.”

Infochange


The ARC-II has also observed: “Area of conflict between the Minister and the officers is the influence exercised by the Minister in the day-to-day functioning of subordinate officers. Efficient running of activities of a ministry or department requires delegation of powers and functions to the various levels of bureaucracy. Once this delegation has been done, (it) should be allowed to discharge its duties, of course, as per the delegated authority. It has often been observed that the Ministers issue instructions, formal or informal, to influence the decisions. Officers, instead of taking decisions on their own, therefore, look up to the Ministers for informal instructions, ‘thus completely loosing their initiative’.” It has further said: “The relationship between the political executive and the bureaucracy (should be spelled out) in a comprehensive manner by a detailed institutional and legal framework to build a healthy relationship.”

                Further to quote ARC-II, it reiterated that “rule of business of government do provide for the secretary to the government to advise his minister about the course of action proposed in a particular matter and to submit to him a note, which tells him about the propriety or legality of his orders and suggests that either such orders not be given or that they be suitably modified”. Further, the Commission observed that the “relationship between the secretary and the Minister is organic. The Minister has the mandate of people to govern but the secretary has an equivalent constitutional mandate to advise the Minister”. Thus, if the Minister after his advice passes an illegal order, he must be bound to own it and held responsible and accountable in a court of law, where this burden is thrown on the civil servant for answerability and the poor officer has to face the consequences of an illegal order, sometimes even contempt proceedings, for no fault of his, or extravagant misuse of public money in anti-people expenditure under the garb of Legislative sanctions on the basis of its brute majorities in the Legislatures, as had been observed in a debate in British Parliament by Edmund Burke in the later half of 18th century. ‘Human Rights Watch’, after a survey of the biggest and most-populous state in India, has submitted a report in the 1st week of October, 2009 which mentions that the state, is short of 583 community health centres (CHCs) according to laid down norms, 45 per cent health centers do not have enough money even to run an ambulance, the state is short of emergency maternity wings, hardly 33 per cent PHCs have blood bank units and “expecting” ladies have to go more than 100 Km in the rural areas of the state for deliveries, though even in those centers, blood transfusion facilities are not available, which is a must for caesareans. It has also suggested that the public money should be diverted to such “Human Development” and welfare programmes by these states instead of spending it on activities which have no public-utility purpose.

                In the above context, it will be worth while to discuss the concept of the security and protection provided to a public servant under the Article 310 of the Constitution. It is generally believed that the public servant’s job is most secure and his tenure of service, assured till retirement. On proper scrutiny, it has not been found correct as under the above Article, his tenure is based on the “pleasure of the President or the Governor, as the case may be. In effect, it is actually the pleasure of the ruling political executive, which is indicative of a feudal mind set and contradicts the concept of a democratic polity. The creation of Civil Service Boards have also proved futile as best exemplified in the states where daily transfers in bunches, are the order of the day, signifying the true meaning of the word “Pleasure”. In a particular state, out of cadre strength of 537, except a few countable minions of the total strength, none has continued on his post for more than a year. A large number of them have been shuffled and reshuffled for more than 3 to 4 times in a year. The figures show that in less than 30 months i.e. half the tenure of the present political outfit in power in this state, has caused the cadre more than 800 transfers @ over 300 transfers almost every year, and has cost to the poor state exchequer an avoidable burden, though a multi-million dollar (convert it in Rs) business to the political executive. Many IAS officers have done as many as 4 districts as District Magistrate in less than 15 months and have not been able to inspect either a Police Station or a Tehsil or a Block, during their tenure in a district due to adhocism in the present-day administrative setup.

                On the pathetic position of transfers, the ARC-II has made some critical comments and has also quoted form certain studies, made in this respect. I, as the writer of this Article can not resist the temptation of putting them below:

(a)          “Area of tension in the relations (between the two) is the arbitrary transfer and posting of civil servants at the behest of Ministers and other political leaders particularly in the states.” Robert Wade, in his study of Andhra Pradesh State in South India, has shown how the process works. As Wade says: “The transfer is the politicians ‘basic’ weapon of control over the bureaucracy. With the transfer weapon not only can the politicians raise money by direct sale; they can also remove someone, who is not being responsive enough to their monetary demands or to their request for favours to those from whom they get money and electoral support—in particular, the contractors. One is thus led to visualise a special circuit of transactions, in which the bureaucracy acquires the control of funds…..then passes a portion to MLAs and especially Ministers, who in turn use the funds for distributing short-term material inducements in exchange for electoral support. These funds, it should be noticed, do flow through the public domain; but they are neither open to public scrutiny nor available for public expenditure programmes.”

(b)          NN Vohra, a retired civil servant has commented: “Transfers of government functionaries have in many States, virtually assumed the status of an industry. Officials at all levels are repeatedly shifted from station to station in utter disregard of the tenure policies or any concern about the disruption of public services delivery and the adverse effect on the implementation of development programmes.”

(c)           The 5th Pay Commission had already made very critical comments about the “Transfer Industry” in the States as it observed: “There is a definite feeling that the instrument of transfer is widely misused, particularly by politicians in power…, to subjugate the government (public) employees… as an instrument of punishment.. . Demands have therefore, been made that no transfer before the expiry of three years in a post, should be made.” It also recommended that the “instrument of transfer should not be allowed to be misused either by bureaucrats or by politicians in power, as a means of punishment by circumventing the procedure laid down”.

(d)          Lokayukta of Karnataka painfully wrote that “there is a lot of discontentments in regard to the transfer policies of the government… transfer are effected at the whims and fancies, which is mostly-influenced by the pressure from the politicians. He suggested that “to have an independent attitude and peace of mind, a government servant must have some assured tenure in any post to which he is posted, before he is transferred. Transfers though shown for administrative reasons, quite often seem to be the outcome of personal grievance, which will certainly have adverse effect on the performance of the government…. there is a common perception that transfers to certain powerful posts are being made for collateral consideration, which involves corruption and made suggestions to leave the transfer to bureaucracy itself without there being any interference what so ever by the ministry… on the recommendations of a committee” at the state, division and district levels. He also suggested that “there should be a minimum of three years fixed duration for the officer’s stay in a particular post”.

The third constitutional point, dealing with Article 311 of the Constitution, is regarding the protection to the job of a public servant. It is true, that he is assured that a “Pink slip” will not welcome him suddenly, but daily routine of suspensions have made the Article a matter of ridicule as an honest and upright public servant is often a sacrificial lamb, if he tries to stand pressures and illegitimate demands. The corruption behind such pressures is believed to be the main reason and ends at transfers of the honest officers frequently. During last few years, a large number of public servants have been transferred, as never before. It is now a common talk in certain states that the transfer of the public servants is a thriving industry of the political leadership.

                The relevance of Article 311 is best manifested on the other side of the fences of honesty, where such public servants abound who have amassed huge wealth and taken lucrative postings by indulging in corrupt practices in connivance with the political leadership, as it is well illustrated in Tables A and B containing the position under Prevention of Corruption Act.

                India’s position in corruption chart as shown in Tables A and B, is self explanatory and does not require any further illustration except that in order of grades in corruption and doing business with the government comprising of political and bureaucratic executives, according to World Bank report, is just slightly above the bottom. None from the top political executives or bureaucrats worth name, has been convicted so far, during last 62 years, despite the common knowledge that around 1.4 trillion dollars (Rs 70 Lakh Crores) have been deposited in the Swiss Banks by Indians, earned from doubtful sources. Instances are replete in South Korea, Japan and Italy, where some of the top political functionaries have been sent behind the bars on corruption charges. This slush money is sufficient for the entire infrastructural needs of the country, to make it comparable with the Western Countries and much ahead of China.

                The virus of corruption is spreading fast, infecting the entire body of public services including the judiciary which was known so far, for its uprightness, though people hesitate to discuss it publicly for fear of a court notice but the revolutions and movements do not wait for any sanctions or protocol, all over the world. It is, therefore, a matter of prime importance that strict norms of conduct and functioning of the bureaucracy and the political leadership be carved out, so that they do not overlap or encroach upon each other’s domain.

                National Commission to Review the Working of the Constitution also commented that the sanctity of parliamentary legislation under Article 309 is needed to counteract the publicly-known trends of the unhealthy and destabilising influences in the management of public services in general and higher civil services in particular. But we can not blame all public servant or all political executives though they are few and far between, in the lot.

                Against this background, we must adore and admire those public servants who live and survive by the strong winds beneath their wings, of their integrity, conscientiousness, strength of conviction, fearlessness, commitment to public good, strong moral character, activism for a progressive social inclusiveness and propriety in their relationship with the political executive, strictly adhering to para 10 and 62 of the Rule of Business, yet being humble but firm, accessible but not approachable and accommodative but not amenable to pressures.

                Having written all this, the fact remains that India is the largest-functioning vibrant democracy in the world with intense political activity, vigilant opposition, mature-political analysts, and constitutionally-guaranteed freedom of thought and expression. The country stands tall against visible opposite trends in our neighborhood, South-East and East Asian, African and Latin American countries. However, the stage has arrived, when the bureaucracy and the political leadership in India, should jointly brood over the deteriorating situation of governance and take suitable measures to cure the disease before it is too late for both of them to recover. To initiate the process, parliamentary passage and implementation of Public Services Bill, 2006, may be a step forward in the right direction. As it specifically mentions in terms of Article 19(e) of the Bill “the transfers and postings of public servants are undertaken in a fair and objective manner and the tenure of the public servant in a post is appropriately determined and is maintained consistent with the need to maintain continuity, and the requirements of Good Governance”.

By SC Rastogi

The writer is a Lucknow-based retired IAS officer

 

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