Monday, February 03, 2014

IAS officer’s son Satya Nadella and Ludwig Von Mises’ book “Bureaucracy”

IAS officer's son Nadella of Microsoft
IF 46-year-old Satya Nadella, son of 1962 batch IAS officer BN Yugandhar, becomes the CEO of the world’s fourth largest company by market cap, Microsoft, he would arguably be the most successful son of an Indian bureaucrat, globally. But, are sons and daughters of veteran bureaucrats, Yugandhar being one of them rising in the hierarchy to become a Planning Commission member, no longer interested in Indian civil services? In fact, the trends of the last decades have demonstrated that sons and daughters of top Indian officers are going...
the private way. Many have even studied in ivy-league universities in US but despite their talents and clear understanding about India, majority of them, unlike their parents, have shied away from taking the trouble of preparing years long UPSC examination. But that leaves another pertinent question: Will Indian bureaucracy be filled with a more mediocre lot in the years to come? BoI does not want to speculate on the issue and pass any value judgement preposterously. Instead, let’s go back to 1944 when Ludwig Von Mises wrote the legendary book called “Bureaucracy” and tried to answer many such questions that remain highly relevant even after 70 years.
One has to first understand the backdrop in which Ludwig Von Mises wrote the book. It was the period of World War-II. And many criticized bureaucrats in Europe for the mess. But the author of “Bureaucracy” claimed that it would be “a mistake” to ascribe the frustration of European bureaucratism to “intellectual and moral deficiencies of the personnel”. “In all these countries there were many good families whose scions chose the bureaucratic career because they were honestly intent on serving their nation,” he wrote.
Von Mises then went on to say that many of the most gifted and lofty members of the intelligentsia have actually served as bureaucrats. He also talked about the “prestige and the social standing” of even the lower echelon of the government bureaucracy. In those days, only other groups that commanded similar prestige and social standing were the army officers and the members of the oldest and wealthiest aristocratic families.
“Many civil servants published excellent treatises dealing with the problems of administrative law and statistics. Some of them were in their leisure hours brilliant writers or musicians. Others entered the field of politics and became eminent party leaders,” Von Mises wrote. He then quipped: “Of course, the bulk of the bureaucrats were rather mediocre men”.

1 comment:

  1. Interesting book on bureaucracy written 70 years ago!