Stem the Rot, Quickly by Mohammed Ataur Rahman (FEBRUARY 13, 2010)

Mohammed Ataur Rahman on the dangerously spreading corruption in bureaucracy.

The British used to call the Indian Civil Service “the steel frame of India” for good reason. It bound India together strongly in an administrative apparatus that was unbreakable. That cannot be said of the civil service of today any longer, for it is neither “civil”, nor “service”. There is nothing of steel in this cast iron contraption that is rusted and brittle.

There is nothing civil about this service because it is unaccessible to common people. The babus manning it take themselves as masters of the people, not their servants. Naturally, the people cannot expect any service from a set of swollen-headed persons who regard themselves as heirs to colonial-era collectors, commissioners and secretaries. These dark-skinned Englishmen are simply not there to serve dark-skinned Indians.

So, what do we do with them? Not much, really. The judiciary can send a collector of Patna to jail for syphoning away money meant for buying fodder for cattle, another bureaucrat somewhere in India is booted out of his swivel chair for similar misdeeds. However, that still does not take care of the felons in civil service.

A dozen or so IPS officers, country cousins of the IAS, are behind bars for felony, but quite as many have ended up as governors of states, lording over all that they survey. However, as democracy spreads this class of nose-in-air folk has started knowing its place, albeit gradually. It used to be joked that IAS stood for “I Am Safe”. But they are safe no longer, at least not from the consequences of their misdeeds.

The case of three IAS officers brought to light last week following an IT raid is an indication of where things stand today. The rot has spread wide dangerously. However, it is heartening to note that democracy, too, has deepened simultaneously, and such people are now more likely to be brought to justice.

A husband-wife team of IAS officers from Madhya Pradesh was suspended last week after an IT raid ferreted out Rs. 3.10 crore in cash from their residence.

Another IAS officer’s premises (and those of his relatives) were raided in Raipur in neighbouring Chhattisgarh. Rs. 40 crore in cash and documents of huge property were recovered.

Such raids (and resultant discovery of huge amounts of cash, jewellery and other property) have become routine now. This must continue and the rot must be stemmed as quickly as possible.   



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