|PM with an award winning bureaucrat on April 21|
THE day Alex Paul Menon, a 2006 batch IAS, was kidnapped by Naxals from Majhipara village in Maoist-infested Chhattisgarh district, Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh was incidentally addressing hundreds of bureaucrats in New Delhi. The occasion was the annual Civil Services Day. While showering praise on bureaucrats, Prime Minister said Indian civil servants would rank “among the best in the world”. “They have done excellent work. They have delivered results in the face of adversity,” he said.
But as Alex Paul Menon incident has demonstrated, the adversities for young officers serving in Naxal-hit areas...have increased manifold and turned complex in nature. Alex Paul hailing from Tamil Nadu was an engineer in electronics. But like thousands of brilliant students, he too aspired to become an IAS and unlike most others he succeeded becoming one.
Till a few years ago, IAS officers posted in trouble-torn North-East states and Jammu and Kashmir changed their cadres to a “safe” land mostly on the ground of marriage. But the way Naxals have strengthened their bases in states like Chhattisgarh, Orissa, West Bengal etc. during the last few years, the IAS, IPS and Indian Forest Services officers have now no option but to face insurgency in most parts of the country.
Dr Singh in his speech on Saturday did mention some of the adversities being faced by bureaucrats. He said the decisions that the civil servants take must be fair and objective in nature, “their judgment and advice should not be affected by the nature and colour of the political leadership”.
During the last one and half years, many outstanding bureaucrats have chosen the path of “take it easy”. Taking no decision means making no mistakes either. Many bureaucrats have realized that they could be victimized in political crossfire. If a minister makes a mistake, chances are that top bureaucrats of the department could also be hauled up. And you never know, as in case of ex-telecom secretary Shyamal Ghosh, a file may get reopened even after nine years of one’s retirement.
Running a government without taking any decisions is still possible, but what’s if collectors in Naxal areas too take a causal “no-decisions” approach. The situation will exacerbate, and may reach a point of no-return.