Adm by policy not politics

Ordinary people do not have a clear vision of bureaucratic structure, powers and responsibilities of bureaucracy and its synchronization with national policy and interests. Politicians rule the country and bureaucrats run the country. Bureaucracy is the instrument that moves the wheels of administration. Bureaucracy is the very soul of administration and all countries, irrespective of the type of Government they have, must have the bureaucratic structure in place.
For nearly a century and half India was governed by the British. They had inducted British officers to head the Administrative Departments. Of course, these officers were given rigorous training in administrative spheres, and at the same time, they were made fully acquainted with the history, geography, culture and life style of the people over who they ruled. A conspicuous thing about the British bureaucracy was its efficiency and competence but at the same time they worked for their own motherland meaning Great Britain and not for India, which was only a colony. Therefore, the decisions taken by that bureaucracy were essentially close to the British interests.
When India attained freedom on the midnight of August 15, 1947, and Sardar Patel became the first Home Minister, a pressman asked him a question that since the British had left and Congress had been deadly against the British bureaucracy, how would the Government of independent India deal with these bureaucrats? The great Sardar gave a historical answer. He said, “I would like to throw them out one and all but who will run the Government?” The wisdom was to make the best use of the highly experienced bureaucrats whom the British had recruited in Indian Administrative Service (IAS). History proved him right. When the history of civil administration in India in post independence period will be written, we will find that initial decades of that period were perhaps the best of the entire gamut of administration. Once the bureaucrats of the days of colonial rule demitted office after superannuation and Indian bureaucrats filled those seats, there was appeared marked deterioration in the quality of administration, efficiency and competence of administration. This is also true of our political leadership as well. We do not propose to go deep into those details as these are out of our purview. What we are interested in knowing and debating is the role of the new recruits to IAS and IFS cadres’ vis-à-vis national interest.
Addressing the IAS officers of 2014 batch who have completed their three-month stint at Centre as Assistant Secretaries, Prime Minister made a very cogent point which sums up the entire philosophy of nationalistic bureaucracy. The PM said that “politics should never override policy”. This is the crux of the issue. Let us be candid in saying that long after the British colonialists had left India, the hangover of British bureaucracy continued for a long time. The mentality of the ruler and the ruled did not leave some of our bureaucrats for very long time. It caused grave problems for the nation. Actually, the source of degeneration of honest bureaucratic dispensation lies embedded in corrupt and distorted politics indulged in by some of our irresponsible politicians. Some bureaucrats unwittingly imitated corrupt politicians and used their malevolent behavior as their protective shield to hide irregularities detrimental to national interests. That created a wrong impression that Indian bureaucracy was not dedicated to national interest. Somehow people began to mistrust bureaucracy as antagonistic to the interests of the people.
Politicization of administration is a big misfortune for any nation. The Prime Minister conveyed to the young batch of IAS officers to usher in new philosophy of giving the people-oriented administration to the country. Towing the political line is not only disservice to the nation but is the defeat of very concept of good governance. How can we expect good governance in an administration where bureaucracy is politicized and serves the interests of politicians not nation? After receiving their training at the Lal Bahadur Shastri National Academy of Administration, the batch of new IAS officers were made to serve as Assistant Secretaries and assigned projects, eight of which were presented in the function. Three months training as Assistant Secretaries has given them a perspective of how the Central Government runs its administration so that when they are finally given their posting, they go with a wide national perspective and vision. The nation expects them to be Indians first and Indians last; to think, plan and work for the country and its people.


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