Bureaucracy bashing has become part of our culture: Manoj Shrivastava

Newsroom24x7 Staff

Manoj Shrivastava

Manoj Shrivastava

Bhopal: “We are witnessing an unending game of smoke and mirrors. Bureaucracy bashing has become part of our culture and as a result the public servants are losing their capacity to take decisions. Young and idealist officers are going through torture and trauma and are finding themselves in the grip of insecurity.”

This was stated by Madhya Pradesh Principal Secretary Commercial Tax, Culture, Religious Trust and Endowment and Trusty Secretary Bharat Bhawan Manoj Shrivastava. He was delivering the key-note address on the theme “Governance and ethics” at the Academy of Administration here today. The programme, presided over by K.K. Sethi, former chief Secretary of Manipur and ex-President Board of Revenue Madhya Pradesh, was organised by the Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh branch of Indian Institute of Public Administration.

Shrivastava said: “We have created so many structures to fight corruption but in fact these have become corruption traps. When such people are entrusted with the responsibility of conducting inquiry or investigation who lack sensitivity and do not know the difference between a wrong decision and a corrupt decision and treat their job as a providential break to overcome their lifetime of frustration, the honest officers lose their zeal, jest and all the fervor and the fire within.

Motives are imputed in the case of those who work whereas those who do nothing have a gala time and many start thinking that there can be no better employer than the State because other employers give salary for doing work and the state for not doing any work. So the best option is – take no action for recovery and do not remove encroachments. Hence as long as the risk-reward calculus remains out of balance, our ethical apparatus is bound to remain out of gear. In the process, initiative gets reduced to indolence, enterprise turns into apathy and instead of dash and fervor officers start following the do nothing policy. The supremacy of paper and ink swallows the officers’ human endeavour. Can we solve this by setting time lines. What is more important is that we should identify and understand the fault lines. Till we do not do the ball and chain analysis with full conviction, we will continue to confront the purple crocodiles and the administrative leadership would lose its initiative and get dominated by managerialism.

Government institutions that lack peoples’ confidence will also end up losing self confidence. From this dirty pool only some TRP can be gained. One can understand that public servants lack people’s confidence and they also face public skepticism but one is talking of that instinct that has been stretched till destructive and demographic lengths and has become counter-productive.

Everyone talks of red-tapism but the complaint culture has increased the length of this red-tape. If we talk of morals, we will also have to talk about morale. Question arises why are we so excited about creating a society that takes so much interset in lodging complaints.

It has been experienced all over the world that RTI has become a tool in the hands of those who use it for extortion. RTI has been seen as a responsibility of the duty bearer but not from the point of view of the claim-holder and his responsibilities. As a result RTI has become a source of employment for many. Information is sought on the same subject under different sames and if these get rejected, there are appeals leading to the clogging of the appeal system. The media has reported on several occasions how RTI is used for extortion.

We should take note how methods adopted for measuring corruption by organisations like Transparency International (TI) serve their own diplomatic purpose. Their corruption perception index is based on their own perception and not the reality.. Transparency International receives $ five million from the British Government. Other western countries and multinationals also provide financial help to this organisation. Huffington Post, in an article quoting a TI insider has reported: “TI USA is very corporate oriented, very inside the Beltway oriented.”

The organisation that received monetary help of $ 3 million from Seimens, a multinational company that was slapped the biggest corporate corruption fine of $ 1.6 billion in 2008 for paying bribe to government officers of many countries does the corruption rating of different countries. This help was not extended voluntarily by the German multinational company but it was in response to an application submitted by TI.

The Integrity Award given to Hillary Clinton by TI last year is in the midst of a controversy. By dropping China by 20 ranks when that country is running the biggest campaign in history against corrupt bureaucrats, TI has demonstrated how much it is worried about the western interests or about protecting the interests of the oil lobby and those countries that wage wars against sovereign states and the tobacco industry that keeps scientists on their payrolls and the pharmaceutical companies that convince experts to conduct scientific inquiries for their benefit. How can these societies that attack other countries to serve the interests of the arms industry be viewed as ethical societies.

Is it not a tragedy that we see the Ombudsman institutions addressing the problem of graft in the typical 18th century manner.  These institutions ask for complaints supported by an affidavit but do not take any action when the affidavits turn out to be false.

The Acts under which the Ombudsman institutions are created have provision for action against those who lodge false and vexatious complaints but cases against such persons are not filed in a court of law. The result – a complaint culture is flourishing without accountability and as a result there is a conspiratorial quagmire and system subterfuge.”


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