Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Why can't Indian bureaucrats try Facebook founder's hacker formula?

Zuckerberg listening to US president Obama
Facebook’s 27-year-old billionaire CEO Mark Zuckerberg has always wanted a hacker culture in his company. Usually, hackers mean those tech saavy bad minds who cripple websites and deface those. But in Facebook, hacker culture means giving an extra push to try out new ideas even if they fail. No wonder, Zuckerberg’s Facebook which was launched in 2004 (incidentally the same year the UPA came to power) is now a $100 billion company (about Rs 5 lakh crore). As many as 845 million users, meaning more than the entire population of Europe, now log onto Facebook.
But such fascinating stories of entrepreneurship like Facebook or Google which incidentally started in a garage, should teach lessons to mammoth government set-ups across the world, and India in particular. Why can’t Zuckerberg’s hacker attitude not inculcated by Indian bureaucrats who are brilliant, yet carry a baggage of laziness and negativity? Many bureaucrats will instantly dismiss such an idea saying that in government you have to do everything within rules, and leaving one mistake will mean you are culpable. But that’s an old-fashioned argument.
This is how Indian bureaucrats can use Zuckerberg’s hacker formulae of trying new things even if they fail.
a)      Be prepared for mistakes. If you have read the comments of Prime Minister, CVC etc. you would have realized by now that you will get away with “honest mistakes” even in government. So what stops you from experimenting new ideas, hackers’ way?
b)      We often forget that there are start-ups within the government too. Unique Identity, Delhi Mumbai Industrial Corridor, new metro rail projects across India etc. are all start-ups. Read Zuckerberg’s philosophy and try to incorporate those in your government venture.
c)      Hacker’s attitude can also find place in old-fashioned large government offices. The Commercial Tax Department of the government of Karnataka, for example, has received the Central government’s annual e-governance award for creating a paperless system. One entrepreneur-like spirited bureaucrat at the top can change the entire system below.
d)      The departments like DoPT should also take note of such new ways of getting things done. The ACRs of officers should include a column where getting out-of-box ideas should be suitably rewarded.
e)      Finally, implementing Zuckerberg’s hacker’s attitude is not possible in government unless there is a team of like-minded people. Why can’t an officer choose his own men rather than getting satisfied with those who are given by his department? Is DoPT listening?
When Prime Minister’s Office is on Twitter, and is contemplating to have a Facebook account any time soon, Indian bureaucrats must read Facebook founder’s hacker philosophy and experiment things which are considered odds in government. If you want to follow babu blogger in Facebook, here is the address: http://www.facebook.com/babublogger


  1. Like all the idea, point C makes lot of sense 'One entrepreneur-like spirited bureaucrat at the top can change the entire system below.'
    Relax your fears, always keep the greater good to the country and its people in mind and work smartly/diplomatically. IAS/babus you canot go wrong. Truth can not be hidden. People will embrace you. I think IAS/babus should do a lot of PR for their initiatives. They should not be media shy and master the art of PR. Unless there is a rule stopping them their political masters want them to be media shy. So mis-information rather than truth is spread

  2. I think that the point (d) is the most important initiative that can be taken to promote the 'Hackers Culture' in bureaucracy. And, only by this can our bureaucracy shed its status-quoist image.