R K Sinha
Recently, the latest results of the Civil Services Examination of UPSC 2020 have been announced. The candidates who have been successful in these examinations will become Class 9 cadre IAS, IPS, and IFS officers, etc. of all the centers of the central services. Ultimately it will be their responsibility to actively implement the programs and schemes of the Central Government. The lifeblood of any democratic country is its bureaucracy.
If they do their work with diligence and the right attitude, then the country is bound to start its journey on the path of progress and development. However, if they become corrupt and incapacitated, the country will undeniably suffer a great loss. This is a fact known to all. At present, the process of congratulating the successful candidates is underway. Their real challenge will commence once they are posted in their respective districts or departments following their training.
When the Civil Services were initially conceptualized in India during the British era, its main purpose was for these officers to help in strengthening the British Raj and easing the process of strictly implementing British policies. That is why at the outset they had made a policy of posting only British officials in all the high-ranking posts and positions. Thus, in the beginning, mostly Britishers were inducted in the IPS and ICS.
It is said that those Britishers who were posted as district officers used to know every inch of that district at the back of their hand. They knew the types of agricultural lands in the district, the portion which was fertile, how much was barren, how much was irrigated, how much was not irrigated, what were the various species of trees and plants indigenous to that area, what was the population of each village, what were its prevalent social and economic composition, how many rivers and streams there were in the district and what was the average annual rainfall received? How many officers of today will know about these things? Let alone the district. They do not have sufficient knowledge of the number of localities in the city in which they are posted.
However, this also does not imply that there were no skilled and qualified officers in India after independence. The country has seen several capable government officers after independence. In this context, from Jagmohan to K.Subramaniam and A.K. Damodaran to L. P Singh and T.N Seshan, J.N Dixit, hundreds of highly intellectual, knowledgeable, and capable officers can be named. But there are many officers who have also proved to be incapable. They have also indulged in malpractices and corruption.
A thought that needs immediate attention and understanding is that if we expect our government officials to work fearlessly, then we have to give them the necessary environment for that. We have to provide them protection & security. It is often observed that only the officers who walk on the path of truth and righteousness, have to face numerous obstacles and hindrances. Does society or the government give them adequate protection or respect? Honest officers have to wander throughout their lives. They are denied promotions without any reason, and the threat of being transferred always looms over them.
Haryana cadre’s IAS officer, Mr. Ashok Khemka had to pay a heavy price for his honesty. There have been a lot of Khemka-like officers in this country. Somebody had rightly said that only a few people like bitter medicine and incorruptible officers. Everyone desires a Government puppet who works in accordance with their wishes.
How many people today remember the story of Mr. Satyendra Dubey and Mr. Manjunath? Mr. Satyendra Dubey was the Project Director at the National Highways Authority of India. He saw closely the corruption that was spread in the Prime Minister’s ambitious road plan of the Golden Quadrilateral.
At that time he wrote a sealed letter to the then Prime Minister, Atal Bihari Vajpayee Ji, in which there was a complete list of corrupt officials involved in the scheme. The names of powerful corrupt officers, engineers, and contractors were clearly listed.
Dubey had written that he could not deal with that nexus of corrupt people on his own and that is why he is writing a letter to the Prime Minister asking for additional help and backup. He was soon murdered for having written this letter.
Now let’s talk about Mr. S. Manjunath. He was working in Indian Oil Corporation in the Lakhimpur Kheri district of Uttar Pradesh. On September 13, 2005, while inspecting the Petrol Pump “Mittal Auto Mobile”, he discovered some discrepancies. The petrol pump was suspended because of his complaint. On November 19, Manjunath again inspected the place. But this time the son of the petrol pump owner along with his companions shot and killed him. That is, in the same way, the honest and dutiful officers have to pay a very high price for being honorable.
Metcalfe House, located in the Civil Lines area of the country’s capital, is a very special place for India’s peak bureaucracy. It was here that on 21st April 1947 the Iron Man, Sardar Patel gave a speech on the significance of self-governance and a good nation to the first batch of IAS-IPS officers of independent India. That is why 21st April is celebrated as Public Servant Day. Prior 1947, the Indian Civil Service (ICS) examinations were conducted in the Metcalfe House. It was here that till 1958, civil service examinations, interviews, and training of successful candidates were held. After that, their training started in Mussoorie.
In his statement, Sardar Patel had asked the officers of the country to work in the best interests of the people and to work without any hesitation. Do all the Government officials follow the path shown by Sardar Patel nowadays? Isn’t it true that when these officers are finally posted in the districts, they should be as close to the general public as they can be, on the contrary, they become further away from them? They live in their palatial Government bungalows and have no concern for the public. This situation is dismal and utterly unfortunate.
The Government should take strict action against those officers who do not perform their duties properly. The officers on whom there are proven corruption charges must be punished severely. It is also seen that many Government babus are busy their whole life looking for advantageous postings. In this sequence, they do not refrain from sucking up to the political leaders and powerful ministers. All these practices should be deemed unacceptable. Only then can Government officers fulfill their responsibility of public service.
(The author is a senior editor, columnist, and former MP)
R K Sinha