Monday, October 18, 2010

75% people say Indian bureaucrats are more powerful than their political masters, says BoI survey

IN YET another finding of Neta-Babu equations in India, readers of have convincingly given the verdict that Indian bureaucrats are more powerful in real terms than their political masters.
In an online BoI ( survey undertaken in September, 2010, whopping 75 percent respondents said bureaucrats are more powerful than politicians. Whereas 46 percent said bureaucrats are more powerful in most cases, 35 percent said they are more powerful than the political leaders in some cases. Only 14.2 percent respondents felt that both bureaucrats and politicians are equally powerful whereas only 12 percent people said politicians are more powerful.
The survey was undertaken in the backdrop of politicians voicing against the growing clout of bureaucracy. During the recent past, minister of state for health and a senior Trinamool Congress leader Dinesh Trivedi aired the harshest criticism of bureaucracy when he termed Indian bureaucrats “ineffective” and said that young people fresh out of college would be able to run the health ministry better that the bureaucrats. The minister was apparently upset with health secretary K Sujatha Rao when the latter refused to give a go-ahead to his Rs 140-crore pet project of creating a web portal.
Also, Union food processing minister, Subodh Kant Sahay, found bureaucrats in Jharkhand becoming autocrats after the state came under President’s Rule. He said there is a need to tighten the noose on those bureaucrats who have become autocrats.
A few months ago, environment and forests minister Jairam Ramesh’s tirade against bureaucrats in the wake of Shyam Saran’s controversial resignation hogged the limelight as Ramesh said he was not a rubber stamp to the bureaucracy. Mr Saran, a former Indian Foreign Service officer of 1970 batch, had serious differences with Ramesh, and there were tensions as he was to be given the rank of a minister of state.
Ahead of the Commonwealth Games, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh empowered a set of bureaucrats under cabinet secretary KM Chandrasekhar to take on-the-spot decisions to fast-track the Games’ preparations. Many politicians apparently did not like the move though no one aired their displeasure keeping in mind the urgency of the situation and prestige of the nation. For the record, a number of young politicians spearheaded the Asian Games’ preparations, and once the event was over, then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi reshuffled the cabinet and promoted them for their good work. 


  1. It's not surprising that bureaucrats are more powerful. But your analysis on politicians getting upset with growing clout of bureaucrats is excellent.