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Wednesday, November 13, 2013

PM's call for sanity

The Prime Minister and the Finance Minister have echoed what the country's bureaucracy had long wanted to hear from the head of its government - that there is a need to differentiate between malafide and mistake. The leaders also said that unless this is done, the decision making process would continue in a state of paralysis. How true and how timely though ostensibly the reason may be different - to save those in power from the heat of the CBI. Yet the solace that these words have given especially to those who are honest and hence a miniscule minority in the bureaucratic fabric of the nation cannot be under estimated. 

Having worked directly under Jagmohan in his avatar as the Minister for Tourism and Culture, I admired his penchant for honesty as well as governance. His style was a far cry from the present times when we are almost always in a situation of honesty sans governance or governance sans honesty or the limbo ie neither governance nor honesty. Practicing effective governance not misdirected efforts at finding faults and crushing with an iron hand dishonest practices that come in the way of deliverance has been the style of Jagmohan who by far has been one of the most able administrators that the nation has sired.  

The working of governments is mired in bureaucratic red tape the world over. However the complex web of the tape is generally inversely proportional to the level of development of the nation. The more developed the nation, the simpler the web and vica-versa has evolved with the global realization that delivery is far more important than process. Yet India continues to be unique in that the web is getting more complex by the day with an absolute disregard for delivery.  

It is indeed unfortunate that even after over sixty six years as a free nation, the tantra and its components continue to lack clarity over what is supreme - process or delivery. Following the process appears to have gained a higher ground over deliverance and therefore we continue to be perpetually, almost at the bottom of the list of nations in all developmental indexes. It is this penchant for processes that has led to the current scenario where a genuine mistake or a deviation from the process even if carried out in the overall interest of the nation gets equated with malafide. A situation ripe enough for the vigilance setups and the CBI to merrily meddle in leading to the paralysis that the Prime Minister spoke about. 

The paralysis that the Prime Minister mentioned in his address had to happen. There is absolutely no doubt that the administration needs to be clean and dishonest practices curbed yet this cannot be the the sole talking point or focus of the establishment. The establishment is meant for delivery, more so in a nation that regards itself as developing and anything that helps delivery therefore needs a proactive support. There is also no doubt that corruption is presently the most severe of our national ailments and therefore needs to be fought tooth and nail. Yet we need to realize that surreptitious attempts to nail corruption as we are witness to in the present times cause more harm than good. Unless this issue is brought onto the table in all official forums, debated at length within the bureaucratic and political establishments and even placed as the most important issue plaguing the nation in the speeches of the prime minister and president delivered on the independence and republic day ceremonies, the battle would not be won.

The Prime Minister has touched a raw nerve in all of us. Yes there is a subtle undercurrent of fear that keeps many of us away from decision making of any kind. Procrastination has emerged as the order of the day. Yet I hope that the conscience keepers respond to the call made by the highest authority in the land to free the sarkari machinery from the fear of the unknown in taking decisions.

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