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IAS officers sans conscience?

While governance has collapsed and corruption has increased, the IAS mandarins have come out with a wish list instead of addressing these issues

I read this news in The Hindu on the morning of April 14, 2014 under the headline ‘IAS officers drafting wish-list for pay panel’ and a strapline saying, ‘Comprehensive and united representation of demands planned.’ The news story went like this:

When the country is in the midst of electing a new government, the executive is busy drafting its wish-list for the Seventh Pay Commission.

As per a recent resolution, the Central Indian Administrative Service Officers’ Association has decided to present a comprehensive and united representation of its demands before the Seventh Pay Commission, the setting up of which was announced by the government last month.

The association has asked the Andhra Pradesh, Punjab and Uttar Pradesh IAS officers’ units to work on proposals for pay revision. Andhra Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir and Rajasthan Associations have been allocated the job of drafting various aspects of essentials for IAS officers, including security, transportation or car facility or allowance, camp office and attendant allowances.

Dearness, travel and other allowances like entertainment and perks will be looked into by the Himachal Pradesh, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu associations while issues of loans for children’s education, housing, vehicles and gadgets have been entrusted to the Gujarat, Rajasthan and Arunachal Pradesh, Goa, Mizoram and Union Territory (AGMUT) cadre.

Health insurance and risk coverage and health facilities will be dealt with by the IAS officers of Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, AGMUT and Haryana.

Government residential quarters and housing schemes for members will be studied and proposals submitted to the commission by officers of the Andhra Pradesh, Kerala andUttar Pradesh cadre.

The Sixth Pay Commission, while giving a huge pay hike to the IAS, tried to focus on good governance and sprucing up the bureaucracy to provide cutting-edge administration. It adopted the maritime mantra— ‘shape up or ship out’—to send a clear message.

I knew the IAS has been on the decline for the past several years, yet I thought it continued to be a service with some dignity and conscience. I never thought the service as awhole would descend into being apack of mendicants seeking nothing except pay, perks, dearness, travel, other allowances, attendantssecurity, car, education for children,housing schemes, healthcare, insurance and risk coverage, entertainment and what not from the Seventh Pay Commission.

The Sixth Pay Commission, while giving a huge pay hike to the IAS, tried to focus on good governance and sprucing up the bureaucracy to provide cutting-edge administration. For this, the Commission adopted the maritime mantra—‘shape up or ship out’—to send a clear message. The Fifth Pay Commission also attempted something similar, though without any success. The result was that while tax-payers’ money is being drained, there has been neither downsizing nor improved productivity. On the contrary, the bureaucracy has gathered flab by capturing and subsuming a myriad of commissions and regulatory bodies! Governance has collapsed and corruption has assumed humungous proportions – all under the nose of IAS mandarins. And now they have this selfish wish list!

I do not want to pontificate. All I will do is to recollect the talisman of Mahatma Gandhi and tell the mandarins that the ‘elite service’ they belong to is rooted in the ethos of this talisman: “Whenever you are in doubt, or when the self becomes too much with you, apply the following test. Recall the face of the human being whom you may have seen, and ask yourself if the step you contemplate is going to be of any use to him (her). Will he (she) gain anything by it? Will it restore him (her) control over his (her) own life and destiny? In other words, will it lead to swaraj (freedom) for the hungry and spiritually starving millions? Then you will find your doubts and your self melt away.”
Lest you forget!

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