Friday, June 05, 2009
QUOTING a survey done by Hong Kong-based firm, Political & Economic Risk Consultancy, Indian newspapers yesterday flashed a Reuters news item saying that Indian bureaucracy was least efficient among 12 Asian economies whereas those from Singapore topped the chart. The 12-page report based on a poll of 1,274 expatriates working in 12 Asian nations, went to an extent of terming India’s bureaucracy “suffocating”. It also said that working with the country's civil servants was a “slow and painful” process. I feel, we should not get carried away by a survey report and put the entire blame of system failure on Indian babudom. If you want to call Indian bureaucracy inefficient, don’t exonerate the political class, corporate leaders and intelligentsia too. In my 14 years of reporting in power corridors, I have encountered a large number of bureaucrats who transformed their departments into an institution despite serving under very inefficient and corrupt ministers. Can you call them below par vis-a-vis corporate CEOs? Absolutely not. I agree, some bureaucrats do fail to deliver like a corporate CEO though they are academically sound and have a passion to work in difficult circumstances. Yet, the number of such officers has come down in recent years in the backdrop of the government’s attempt to give them management trainings and allow them to work in private sector on deputation. The main handicap still is the lack of right synergy between bureaucrats and their political masters. The transfer, which is an age-old weapon of punishing babus by their political masters, still prevails leaving a massive demoralizing effect on officials. But yes, if Dr Manmohan Singh has succeeded to exclude non-performing ministers from his cabinet, he won’t hesitate to clamp down inefficient bureaucrats either. Maybe, the manner in which he will react would be quite different from Mayawati’s transfer saga in UP.