Saturday, February 20, 2010

Blame the Bureaucrat, not just Politician: Corruption of IAS officers' ignored in India!

Chhattisgarh cadre civil servant BL Agarwal is just one among thousands of civil servants in India, but his name hit headlines briefly when the Income Tax department found that he had at least 220 bank accounts and had amassed wealth and assets to the tune of billions of rupees, yes billions, not millions.

He didn't even have a 'reputation' of being an extremely corrupt officer unlike some other IAS and IPS officers. Still, he had accumulated so much unaccounted wealth in a tribal-dominated state where large section of poverty stricken populace barely gets to eat salt with roti, and nobody was bothered about his deeds until the recent raid.

Even after the disclosures, Agarwal's name hasn't appeared much in national media. Or for that matter the names of MP's IAS officers couple Arvind and Tinu Joshi who had Rs 3 crore cash lying in their house. Do you ever wonder why?

Had it been a politician with a few millions recovered, it would have caused anger and outrage. But neither IAS associations uttered a word, nor the citizens feel any outrage. Is it that we accept that it is the right of bureaucrat to earn money and rob this country?

Politician can be voted out, not bureaucrat

The fact is that a politician can be voted out, he can be blamed and even abused. Opposition parties make accusations and there is much criticism in media. The truth is that Indian politician's house is always open and people belonging to the MP's constituency goes to their house and is often served food and tea or their rail tickets confirmed.

Even if they don't do anything, they meet the people and give them assurances. The bureaucrat who gets to rule this nation without getting into limelight, remains aloof, has devised a system where there is never an onus on him and if there is something wrong then the politician will be blamed. The Indian bureaucrat is mostly elitist, arrogant and inaccessible.A corrupt bureaucrat can't be booted out by citizens and will remain in service for at least 30-35 years.

The suave English-speaking bureaucrat, specially the IAS and the IPS, is rarely targeted by media as well. Journalists--including those who wished to become IAS officers but couldn't make it to civil services and turned to journalism or those who aren't paid well, remain in awe of the officials. Unlike politicians who are considered unsmart and mostly rural. Most of the IAS officers at whose residence, raids yielded millions and billions, won't even to pay much for their sins.

No action on corrupt civil servants

In a couple of days everybody will forget it. They will fight cases and in any case they are not terminated or dismissed. The Chhattisgarh government didn't even appear in a mood to take action against Agrawal and it took many days for the Raman Singh govt to take a decision.

What followed was mere suspension. Most of these bureaurats will be back in offices in a few months, at the most their CR would be affected but they would remain in service, keep working as secretaries, principal secretaries, MDs and eventually retire and draw pensions.

In any case, the departmental inqurires are headed by the babus who are lenient towards their own. The cadre cameraderie is another unique factor among Indian babus. Ironically, the bureacrats are supposed to be less corrupt as they are educated, work hard to crack examination and claim in interviews that they want to do something for the poor by joining the services.

Corruption of civil servants harms the nation more

The truth is that the crime of the corrupt IAS officers is much more serious in magnitude than politicians. Those familiar with the system know that often it is the official who tells the Minister how to siphon off funds, how to plan schemes and bring fund only to misappropriate it, how to award contracts to own contractors through their own pointsmen [or dalaal] and how to avoid getting caught.

Mostly, the officials are smart and the ministers, MLAs or minor corporators-councillors get caught. It is not that the less educated politician is a saint. But the bureaucrat mostly shows the way. If the top babus--IAS, IPS and IFS officers are honest, there is no way the subordinate or the minister can bungle the funds.

No responsibility: Will remain in service for over three decades

Strangle, in our democracy, the real blood-suckers who drain this nation aren't identified. Citizens' anger is never directed at them. They never realise that because medicines are not available in hospitals despite huge funds coming from WHO and Centre, nothing is available because of this nexus.

Even in mishaps, mishandling of law-and-order cases, riots, terror attacks and other tragedies, the officers who fail to take action are neither held responsible nor taken to task. The example is 9/11 when media went after Shivraj Patil but couldn't point out the real failure of the bureaucrats who have been with the ministry for years and are in the real charge of affairs, ranging from policy making to intelligence.

Corrupt bureaucrat gives the mantra

The bureaucrat shows the way, the politician plays along. One wonders when there will be enough awareness in this country that citizens would learn to question the 'civilised robbers', question them, fight them and fix them. Channels will be busy with Shiv Sena-MNIK or Hindu-Muslim debates or Cricket-Bollywood, while this nation is being robbed by those who are supposed to be guardians.
They are responsible to a large extent towards how India is today plagued with bad infrastructure, corruption and misgovernance despite rich natural resources. Some IAS officers are no doubt honest and work sincerely but overall Indian bureaucracy is a huge letdown and has failed the nation more than any other group or section.

May be, it will take a century to develop a sense of democracy among us.