Friday, 27 July 2012

The Seven Sins of Indian Bureaucracy


Functioning of civil service   in  most of the states of India and at centre is becoming increasingly complex , large  , detailed and dynamic as literacy , education , knowledge , exposure and awareness increases  and global changes take place on  daily basis.
As a part of Christian ethics,The Seven Deadly Sins or vices have been used  to indicate  humanity's tendency to sin .These  sins are usually given as wrath, greed,sloth,pride lust ,envy, and gluttony.I have observed , interacted  with and  been a part of Indian bureaucracy for the past three decades .Taking a cue from these Cardinal sins as also from my observation and analysis  , I have drawn  my  list of   seven sins(with apologies to those who do not agree) that most of Indian bureaucrats commit  , often knowingly .There are always some exceptions(I have my deepest reverence for them though they are very few) , but they only prove the rules.This is not to say that the Cardinal sins are not present in Indian bureaucrats .The list below is the list of sins in the  bureaucrats the context of Indian governance system.
1.The biggest  and most  significant sin is the erosion and  the  loss of ideals (which many have at the start of service) and vision of public service .This is accompanied with lack of purpose .
2.The next  biggest sin  is an erosion of its values , integrity , courage to stand for convictions and increasing tolerance, acceptance , passive support and in many cases , active connivance  and wholesale involvement in  corruption .Often it takes the form of pressurising the junior civil servants to fall in line and co-operate in corruption .This also  results  in disrespect for laws , rules and due processes. This has its roots in "greed" of the  Cardinal sins
3. The third significant sin is being indifferent, inert ,lazy and slothful.The inertia sets within about ten years of service , though the exact length of service varies from case to case.This is accompanied with lack of motivation and  morale, loss of meaning in work  and initiative.This has its roots in "sloth" of the Cardinal sins.
4.The fourth  sin is the focus on short term  perspective , partly to avoid responsibility and accountability and partly due to short tenures .
5.The fifth  sin is getting politicised in slow degrees.This is partly to gain favours and partly  to develop God Fathers and God Mothers who  may grant protection in adversity .So we breed a class of bureaucrats who think and act less like civil servants and more like power brokers.
6.Most of the bureaucrats live in silos , lacking in the will and skill for co-ordination and team work .There is an increasing tendency towards departmentalism and empire building .There is a lack of competence and skills in dealing with complex situations that real life poses before the bureaucrats on a daily basis.This often results in paralysis in decision making and in taking action .
7.The seventh sin is the  trend of  denying accessibility to public and declining field level exposure .The bureaucrats , especially at middle and  senior levels , lose touch with the public they are recruited to serve .
                   These seven sins of Indian bureaucracy need urgent attention of all enlightened citizens.The first step is to understand , analyze and accept that these seven sins have become deeply ingrained , like drug addiction , in Indian Bureaucracy .We can deny or ignore them only at our own peril .(I have deliberately avoided giving the reasons and causes for this sorry state of affairs and  also avoided giving prescriptions and solutions  , to  sharply focus on the diagnosis which I believe is a correct one.)
 Some of my fellow bureaucrats may find this analysis  unduly harsh , but I have chosen to be impartial to the best of my abilities , in accordance with my belief that "Caesar's wife must be above suspicion."