Monday, May 14, 2007

Wanted: pliable bureaucrats

No prizes for guessing U P Chief minister Mayawati's first moves on taking over. She has moved out bureaucrats loyal to her predecessor and brought in her own lot. Rediff reports:

Living up to her reputation of a hard taskmaster, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati suspended two senior IAS officers and rattled the state bureaucracy by ordering the transfer of over 100 IAS and IPS officers within hours of her assuming the new office.

.... ... As many as 64 officers belonging to the Indian Police Service including several district police chiefs and others holding key assignments were given marching orders from their existing posts. Besides, more than 35 officers belonging to the elite IAS were shifted in the shake-up. Among the key changes was the elevation of Sheshank Shekhar Singh as the state's cabinet secretary. Singh had suffered much during the Mulayam Singh Yadav regime because he refused to become an approver in the Taj Corridor scam in which Mayawati was facing a CBI probe. He had held the all important charge of UP's industrial development commissioner during Mayawati's last stint.

Two senior bureaucrats have been shunted out supposedly because they failed to maintain the Ambedkar Park created by Mayawati during her previous reign. One does not know to what extent the bureaucrats themselves were responsible- it's quite likely their bosses simply told them to sit tight or did not release the requisite funds.

Mayawati's moves will not come as a surprise. Mass transfers have become routine with each change of government although the disease is less widespread at the centre. In this, we seem to be moving towards the US system of government where nobody makes any bones about the fact that a new government wants bureaucrats loyal to itself- I remember reading after a presidential election that 40,000 jobs in the Washington bureaucracy were up for grabs! But we are supposed to be modelled on Westminster and its concept of a 'permanent' bureaucracy.

I find the absence of indignation in the media on this issue interesting. Also missing is any comment on the pending corruption charges against Mayawati. Perhaps this reflects strong negative sentiment towards the two principal blocs, the UPA and the NDA. Perhaps it merely signifies philosophical resignation towards issues such as an independent bureaucracy and probity in public life.

For the steady degeneration of the bureaucracy into a handmaiden of the political class, it's hard to blame politicians alone. Bureaucrats find it expedient to align themselves closely with particular masters, making hay while the son shines and accepting the price to be paid when it sets. It's heartening that the odd apolitical bureaucrat still has his uses. The Rediff report notes: Chief Secretary Shambhoo Nath and Director General of Police G L Sharma, both of whom were appointed by the election commission to ensure free and fair assembly elections, have however remained untouched so far.

If this continues, it would be following a distinguished precedent. TSR Subramaniam, the former cabinet secretary, records in his memoirs how, after he took over, Mulayam Singh Yadav let him stay on as Chief Secretary.

Yadav told a surprised Subramaniam that he (Yadav) had won because the elections had been conducted impartially under Subramaniam's tenure, so Subramaniam deserved to stay. Yadav apparently thinks this has not happened in the last round- he has been laying the blame for his defeat at the doors of the Election Commission!

1 comment:

Vinayak said...

In many parts of India there is absolutely NO law and order.

Either the Law and order machinery is totally corrupt and inefficient or it is sidelined by the politicians who work with the gundas

Take the case of Uttar Pradesh, the most populous state in India...

When such is the plight of entire state populations, what will individual husbands falsely charged with 498A do ??

more on the plight of India Husbands on these blogs