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The turncoat bureaucrat

Bureaucrats have failed to play the role assigned to them in the task of nation- building. Instead, they seem more concerned with enjoying the fruits of power

THE imminent change of guard at Raisina Hill will once again witness the emergence of turncoat bureaucrats, this time in large numbers due to their long association with almost a decade of single- coalition governance at the Centre. Misrule or otherwise, the penchant of the Indian bureaucrat to disassociate himself from the previous government and actively associate with the next, even at the cost of being termed a turncoat, is perhaps beyond compare.

Bureaucrats are expected to be non-political and, therefore, meant to guide and obey the diktats of their elected political masters. Yet, many of them emerge as bigger and wily politicians in their perpetual efforts to have a good time, almost always. Good times they invariably have, albeit at the cost of the nation and the hapless populace.

Bureaucrats also have another major role to play—that of keeping the nation in the throes of poverty and backwardness, for it is only in a developing nation like ours that the bureaucrat is the most important and the most powerful of the various clans that constitute a nation. Strutting like a master in developing and backward nations, the bureaucrat in the developed countries is almost always an invisible commodity where the bureaucracy is way down in the choice of professions as opposed to our own, where being a collectoror a superintendent of police is the height of ambition of the middle and lower classes.

Ambition for what? Serving the nation. Unbelievable. Ambition is for flaunting power over the heads of those he is expected to serve, totally oblivious of the role that a servant—after all, bureaucrats are government servants—is expected to perform. Besides, in the past few decades, the tremendous opportunity for garnering ill-gotten wealth that a bureaucratic role offers, has also added to the charm of being a part of the elite.

The most dangerous fallout of this non-adherence to the avowed role is the rapidly mushrooming cloud of corruption that has encompassed almost the entire gamut of machineries meant to govern at federal, State and local levels.

In the process, the true role of those who were once regarded as the steel frame has been lost sight of. While the political dispensation is expected to be temporary, the bureaucracy, that had permanence of job, was expected to provide stability and guidance to successive governments. Unfortunately, the servants, in connivance or ontheir own, have become almost as powerful as the masters themselves without sharing the responsibility that generally comes with power.

The most dangerous fallout of this non-adherence to the avowed role is the rapidly mushrooming cloud of corruption that has encompassed almost the entire gamut of machineries meant to govern at federal, State and local levels. Graft has become an essential ingredient of almost all sarkari decisions and contracts, to the extent that it is rare to come across even a single act of government that is straight and devoid of the customary manipulations.

Yet, the blame for the ills is invariably laid at the altar of the politician, regardless of the fact that without a bureaucratic nod or misrepresentation of facts, it is almost impossible for the neta to move ahead on the short-cut to prosperity. The social pressure for acquiring materialistic gains bears hard on the bureaucrat, who does not lose any substantial period of time in picking up the ropes. Sometimes—only sometimes—it is also a case of lack of will or spine to be able to say “no”, rather than direct indulgence in money-making on the part ofthe bureaucrat, who finds himselfin the soup without partaking of the loot. But even then, it is only the bureaucrat to blame.

It is time that nation-building through adept governance and development is realised as the only role of those who are in the business of governance. The primary issue in achieving the same would be the massive course correction that would be needed, keeping in view the misdirected take-offs attempted since the midnight tryst with destiny.

Yet, in God and providence we trust! India shall once again rise and achieve its destined glory.

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