Transformation of the Indian Bureaucracy: Steel Jacket to Steel Frame

"Please for heaven’s sake let us support the NPC and NRC so that our own migrants get jobs and not the Bangladeshis."

Transformation of the Indian Bureaucracy: Steel Jacket to Steel Frame

A question that torments all right-thinking political leaders is; what is ‘Good Governance’?  Most leaders are only looking for spoils of office hence the said question does not occur to them even in their most charitable dreams.  

Hence, I qualified the noun ‘political leaders’ with right thinking; otherwise, it would be unfair on my part to accuse all political leaders of all hues that they are genuinely concerned of good governance?  

To be fair to them it does not really bother them and it is the least of their concerns.  Otherwise, how do you explain; when the entire country is fighting pandemic, one political party is trying its best to ensure that India fails?  

No sooner the lockdown was becoming successful the migrant crisis was kicked off by the party. It also ensured when the lockdown was about to end to ensure the industries and MSMEs should be starved of labour; the party ensured token buses to trigger the exodus of migrants from the place of work to their rural homes.

Remember the person who gave a false message on the WhatsApp in Mumbai for migrants to head to the railway station in Bandra? Also, recollect the bureaucrats in Delhi administration who precipitated the crisis in Delhi?  

You will see how stones and potholes are being laid in the progress of the country? It is all in the political game where addiction to power is stellar and political parties would adopt any means to steal power from the rightful owners; like an alcohol addict who came home and polished off the bottle of cough syrup meant for his own children just to ingratiate himself to the minuscule percentage of alcohol in it.

Now that migrant crisis has been kicked off; there is a panic to get home. During such public panics, the mind ceases to function and all that the victim wants is to reach home. They do not even ask as to what will they do once they reach?  

I was discussing with a friend and he really brought home the fall out of migrant labour heading back home. As things stand; there is already an unease in rural areas of Bihar and UP that is likely to spur reverse migration.  

All the earning members have piled up in villages. After sowing seeds for those who have some lands, they do not earn a single rupee. The money lenders are having a field day in disbursing loans to finance households. How will they repay the loans? The aid by the central government in their banks is to tide over the short-term crisis; it is not meant to stop earning.

Now, the cities and urban areas are hand-cranking their economies, we find the labour has disappeared. Only those who have remained are illegal Bangladeshi labour, who have nowhere to go.  

They will soon occupy plum posts in the labour market and when our own migrant labour return, they will have to be content with leftover slots. Most will have to further hunt for employment and remain unemployed or under- employed.

I will not be surprised if the Illegal migrants from Bangladesh are already heading to our urban centres to grab this window of opportunity? I hope the contemporary Gandhis, who wanted people to do or die for enacting CAA and protest against the follow-up NPC and NPR comprehend their imprudent if not outright anti-national stand?  

If the NPC and NPR get done, we will be sure of providing jobs to our own citizens with valid documents. With the present situation, the Bangladeshi labour in India masquerading as Indian citizens will displace the genuine Indian migrants and the latter would be left without jobs once normalcy returns.  

A good lesson for the opposition that they should discern the long- term advantages to the nation rather than gloat with glee for creating mayhem and carnage during the visit of President Trump to let down their own country.  

If they really had an ounce of love for our country it would never have happened. Afterall one’s love always prevails for the country of origin. Please for heaven’s sake let us support the NPC and NRC so that our own migrants get jobs and not the Bangladeshis.  

Any chaos created in the country the provenance is the bureaucratic bungling.  What did the Labour Secretary do all the time when a migrant crisis was initiated, deepened and went on a tailspin?  

Why did he not anticipate the crisis in the beginning and kept a master plan ready to deal with the situation?  It is because the bureaucrats are not trained and self-righteously believe by passing one exam that they are better than any expert.  

It is for this reason brilliant minds do not join government service as they would be ordered around by muddle-headed babus who do not have a figment of knowledge on the subject but have bloated egos that blind their ignorance and make-believe that they run the country.  

Now, the PM has declared the 20-lakh crore package; it should stabilise the country from the economic downturn.  However, I doubt its efficacy as ultimately it has to be implemented by the District Collector in their respective districts, who are the weakest link in the administrative chain.  

Just for instance, when the PM announced the lockdown, he categorically mentioned to all citizens to stay put where they are. The State Governments were told in no uncertain terms to look after the migrant labour residing in their respective districts. Very few DCs were competent enough to implement it.  

Look at Kerala not one of the 50,000 migrants from North East have left.  They are happy as they have been given food, their basic pay and shelter.

There is a need to train the bureaucrats in the ‘Non-contact War’ that is being waged by our enemies. Bluff and bluster and routine file pushing will not do. There is a need for them to have adequate knowledge in geopolitics and geostrategy to function in the prevailing international milieu.  

Dealing with China and Pakistan is a challenge and it has to be done at every level, not merely at the MEA and MOD.   Chanakya Niti is the order of the day.  The various instruments of national power need to be forged together into Comprehensive National Power.  

Political power, economic power, Science and Technological Power, Diplomatic Power and lastly Military Power have to be embedded in the National Strategy, where the bureaucrats have to play a major role in conjunction with the Armed Forces of the country.

As on today they are only involved in red tape and exercising control and causing hindrance to national progress. The very attitude should change from: Why it can’t be done; to; how it can be done?  

Any issue has to be facilitated and not controlled.  There has to be a sea change in the attitude of bureaucrats coming out of the Lal Bahadur Shastri Academy in Mussoorie. The Army War College can train them in ‘Non-Contact Warfare’. The British called it ‘Steel Frame’ however it has degenerated to ‘Steel Jacket’ of rigidity, ignorance and stubbornness.

The officers of Armed Forces have a number of entries like National Defence Academy, Combined Defence Service Examination, Short Service, Technical Entry Scheme, Technical Graduate Entry Scheme, Women Entry Scheme, Non-Technical Entry Scheme and the University Entry Scheme.  

This provides the Armed Forces officers with multiple qualifications from multiple backgrounds with multiple talents; the Bureaucrats should also have several entries to make the cadre wholesome and all-encompassing so that the steel jacket binding them is got rid of.  

Earlier, there was a scheme for Emergency Officers and Short Service Officers after their tenure in the Armed Forces were inducted into IAS.  They appeared for the UPSC examination in limited subjects and they also had the age relaxation.  

This had a very positive influence that infused a fresh outlook to dilute the cultural inbreeding among the bureaucrats. This policy needs to be reviewed. Other entry proposals also can be thought out so that the attitudinal degeneration of the cadre can be prevented so that they partake in the national building rather be an impediment, as they are today. Multiple entry scheme in IAS will go a long way in making the cadre efficient to support the nation in its quest for a global role.

Again, the entire migrant crisis has been created by the bureaucrats who really do not know administration. If the DCs of all the districts were proactive the migrant crisis would not have precipitated.  

Their jobs with basic pay should have been ensured. The food and their lodging facilities should have been provided for. The last-mile delivery of the announced schemes should have trickled down to them.  

It has been proved beyond doubt that our bureaucrats have let down our country.  Please read my earlier articles on the subject. I had anticipated that the DCs in the country will not be able to rise to the occasion and the present migrant crisis has vindicated by prognosis. A few of them have proved me wrong; I wish I was hounded for my misplaced clairvoyance; but alas! I have been proved right.  

Lastly, when we talk of good governance it cannot come out from one PM.  The Indian Administrative Cadre should once again become the steel frame for which it was created by Sardar Patel.  

It cries for transformation as a couple of cosmetic changes will not do.  If the country has to come up; governance has to improve. If governance has to improve there has to be a transformation of the existing Administrative Cadre.

They will certainly oppose it tooth and nail as not one of them would want to leave their comfort zones. What is Pakistan Army to Pakistan; the IAS is to India.  The bureaucracy has become the nation’s impedimenta. The steel jacket has to become a steel frame.

(Lt Gen PG Kamath is a highly distinguished General of the Indian army;  was the former Commandant of Army War College, Mhow. He currently writes on Ethics, Leadership Strategy and Current International and National issues)

(Views expressed are the authors own, and do not reflect the editorial policy of 'Mission Victory India')


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