Re-engineering the Bureaucracy

Transformation in Indian Democracy – Part IV

Continued from “Politics: Accountability and Transparency”

History was made at the Ramlila grounds in Delhi on December 28, 2013. Over 100,000 people turned out to witness the swearing in ceremony of Arvind Kejriwal and his cabinet. I was hoping that after his cabinet was sworn in, Arvind would turn around and ask the large crowd to raise their hands and swear on Bharat Mata to expose and fight corruption tooth and nail to the best of their might. He did not exactly say that but he did do it. This is what democracy is supposed to be: participation and sharing of responsibilities between people and their elected representatives to serve the country. We are far from it, but there is a ray of light appearing in the dark tunnel.

Now that the celebrations are over, let us get back to reality. So far AAP has been fighting the elements of corruption that are external to its own make up and its own organization. The fight was in the people’s court where the plaintiffs and accused were clearly identified and issues were reasonably well defined. The struggle was uphill and AAP’s victory cannot be underestimated. However, a bigger challenge is yet to come.

Before I elaborate on the new challenge for AAP, let me make a few stipulations. These may not materialize but I will stake my opinion on them anyway. There are two possible outcomes facing the fledgling AAP government:

  1. the support is pulled out from under them by Congress and BJP and they fall in the very near future in which case re-elections are held in the near future;

  2. as a minority government they continue to govern Delhi. It is very clear that their strategy is to carry out their declared manifesto and not enter any alliance with either Congress or BJP.

In my opinion, in any event, AAP will end up running the government in Delhi for the full five year term. Option 2 will be more difficult to carry out for them than Option 1. If they stick with their plan and not make any major mistakes, under Option 1 they will eventually emerge as the government with clear, perhaps overwhelming majority. This will also burst the bubble about the Modi wave. It is a unique challenge for Congress and BJP; all their moves and decisions will be directly judged in the people’s court. This is something that is giving them chills right now. They just don’t know how to handle it.

If BJP is not careful and if Mr. Modi continues with his current rhetoric of attacking the Congress without providing a clear BJP manifesto for the country, the BJP may be in for a very unpleasant surprise. They may not be able to capitalize on the anti-UPA wave from this point onward since they are not the only alternative choice. Mr. Modi has to clearly take tangible steps to pick clean candidates for the upcoming elections and outline how he is going to clean the corrupt elements from BJP. Regardless of how awkward it looks, at least Rahul Gandhi has started making desperate efforts to clean the image of Congress from this point forward. It may be too late for him but he has got the right idea.

With the stipulation that AAP will serve out the full five year term, the next major challenge they face is to re-engineer the bureaucracy in Delhi. They have no choice but to inherit them. They cannot disown them. They just cannot wash their hands by blaming them. As we all know the Babus are the mightiest next to the Almighty. They have been well versed in corrupt ways by their previous political masters. They are certainly intellectually smart. They are used to a standard of living that cannot be sustained by the regular salary and perks. They will drag their feet and slow down any efforts to meet AAP manifesto objectives. They are well aware that the worst they will face will be a transfer to less attractive positions. All they have to do is to wait it out for five years until the current AAP government fails miserably. After that the business will be as usual.

This is a monumental management challenge for AAP and dealing with it effectively, more than all the other challenges, will eventually determine their future success. How are they going to deal with it?

Fortunately, Kejriwal is an ex-bureaucrat. He is familiar with the tricks of the trade and how to neutralize them. However, he has to do more than just neutralize them. He has to motivate and mobilize the bureaucrats to meet his objectives. To begin with the AAP programs have to be prioritized in terms of the ability of the bureaucratic system to handle them and communicated to the public. Remember, the public may show patience and understanding if genuine efforts are being made and clear progress is visible. They would not tolerate inaction, alternative agenda or failure. All of Saam, Daam, Dand and Bhed will have to be utilized with the existing bureaucracy to tackle this challenge. Clearly, those who are entrenched in corruption have to be transferred out. Many of them may also work as spies for the opposition parties to prematurely reveal internal strategies and tactical moves required to implement new programs. The sincere, honest and particularly the young in the administrative cadre have to be quickly spotted and brought forward through promotions to be assigned to key programs. Outside experts with clear track record of accomplishment in public or private sectors will have to be brought in as advisors to overlook day to day implementation of programs and track progress. The marginal and the sidelined bureaucrats have to be retrained and re-energized under the supervision of the cabinet members and the outside experts. All of this has to begin rather quickly. It will be a fatal mistake to push the manifesto programs through the archaic pipeline of the current bureaucratic setup. Selective outsourcing is another choice to accomplish objectives. It is a double edged sword though. For the corrupt, it is an easy way to squander public funds. However, outsourcing has been very successfully used in the private sector to save time and cost and gain productivity.

Bureaucracy is part of the democracy and in many ways it reflects the character of its political superiors. In private enterprises it has been re-engineered successfully in many instances. Even in democratic governments in the west bureaucratic systems and their productivity have been re-engineered to a significant degree. The challenge for Delhi is unique. There are all indications that Kejriwal and his cabinet along with some top AAP leaders have anticipated this challenge and devised their approach to tackle it.

Continued to “Scalability of AAP”


More by :  Dr. Gopal Singh

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Views: 3456      Comments: 9

Comment Thank you for your kind words Amitabh Mitra.

What is going on in Indian political landscape is extraordinary. It is good to see that people are passionate about it. As long as we remain objectively involved in the process, our Democracy would continue to mature.

01-Jan-2014 05:38 AM

Comment Dr Gopal Singh - Actions speak louder than words.Gujeriwal said

1.Promise on my children that we will not seek the support of congress or BJP

2.50% tariff cut on power is by way of government subsidy,Why fritter away tax payer's money for 3 months instead of waiting for complete reauditing entire power tariff?

3. 20000lts of free water to those who have meter?What happens to those who have no meter? Why free water?Who asked for it?

As for all that you have outlined on point 1 of your reply, we need to wait and watch how much of it happens and what lasting changes it brings about.

BJP's 4 state governments have demonstrated least corruption, even in Karnataka the much tainted Yeddy has not been charged on any criminal case.It is all an orchestrated campaign to confuse the gullible like you.NDA performed with greater distinction,, corruption was hardly an issue at that time.If there was loot, it was like a pick pocket,, right now we have a dawood looting us with no care

It is true every political party indulges on free bees including those in BJP like Raman singh or Chauhan.Today the major fascination on BJP has come about because of Modi's style of functioning.His approach has shown to many that lasting changes can be brought about especially those who have the least voice.

You must get into your head that the government can remain healthy only if it spends less than what it earns.Not fritter away on populist measures tom toming done by these paid scoundrels passing off as english media.Finally I don't want noise, I want performance.

01-Jan-2014 03:31 AM

Comment Mr. Shiv:

1. Corruption has to be fought on multiple fronts. PILs and the courts are just one avenue. Systemic reforms are the second avenue: such as "Jan Lokpal", restoring balance between the President and the Executive Body, bringing CBI outside the purview of the Executive Body, reforms in the Peoples Representation Act e.t.c. Re-engineering the Democracy with emphasis on accountability and transparency is the third avenue. I don't want to sound as a defender of AAP. It appears that they are more committed to these remedies. Both, Congress and BJP have had several decades to bring about these changes and have failed. In fact in most instances they have been the perpetrators. It does not mean that Congress and BJP are all bad and AAP is all good. But clearly, Congress and BJP will have to change their ways. It is too early to say about AAP. Like you, the whole nation is watching them. Be objective and give them a chance instead of cutting them to shreds right at the on set.

2. Judge these people based upon what they are going to do. If they have violated any laws, they should be prosecuted and removed from power. If they prove incompetent, they should be voted out. If they carry out what they claim to believe in as stated in their manifesto, they should be encouraged and supported.

3. Do you have any appreciation of how much of government funds have been frittered away by corrupt politicians? Wouldn't it be better if some of it is given back to the public instead. After all that is where these funds come from. I am all for fiscal responsibility in government. The current moves by AAP to fulfill their promises made in the manifesto are partly politically motivated. If they did not carry out these, the erstwhile Congress and BJP will be only too glad to topple them. It is amusing to hear how concerned they have become all of a sudden to the plight of aam adami of Delhi. Should AAP stay in power for an extended period of time, it would be appropriate to demand the fiscal accountability of their actions.

4. Too many unsubstantiated statements. Mr. Modi and BJP should be least concerned about fledgling AAP. All they have to do is clean up their house from corrupt and criminal elements and declare their manifesto as to how they plan to fight corruption and bring about prosperity and development. I am not disputing Mr. Modi's accomplishments in Gujarat, but he cannot ride on those laurels alone.

5. Mr. Modi, Mr. Chauhan and Dr. Raman Singh have done well and have been rewarded for their efforts. However, it does not take away BJP's commitments as outlined in section 4 above.

01-Jan-2014 01:46 AM

Comment Indeed a history made not only on Ram Lila Maidan but by writers like you too who have written such insightful articles like this one, enjoyed reading it again and again
My congratulations to you, Gopal Singh Sahab

Amitabh Mitra

31-Dec-2013 13:55 PM

Comment Here are my charges with substance Dr Gopal Singh

1."AAP has only been making noises about corruption." - They raised a stink on Robert Vadra,what happened later?No court case, no substance to charges.Same is the case with Gadkari.Where are the charges with substance?Why Kejriwal has said nothing about Sonia's involvement in all the corruption issues as DrSwamy has done?Corruption can only be fought if you file charges in court and send the corrupt to Tihar.Not through sloganeering through media

2." AAP is populated by the same bunch of leftist loonies who were piggying back on congress. " = Aruna Roy is the mentor for Kejriwal,sisodia.Prashant Bhushan has naxalite association,Gopal rai is another with leftish leanings.Yogendrayadav is a card carrying member part of arunaroy.NAC 's leading constituent is aruna roy.Why am I still stuck with the same bunch of leftist loonies who have destroyed India since independence?

3.Entire manifesto is state funded free bees , the culture of leftist loonies who fritter away government funds.Why should Delhi people get free water supply of 20000lts of water every month?

4.AAP sprang up suddenly when the 2G cases became front page news.People's attention went to BJP as they started feeling that BJP will be the only party which can rein in corruption.Modi being a frontline leader started getting prominence.This made all the leftists realise that they will be kicked out of their pedestal if Modi gets into power.As congress dubious gandhi family already lost their sheen, they have come up with the ingenuous plan of AAP hoisting on us this gujeriwal

You must have sense to see through their noisy hogwash to understand that basically nothing will change through this lot.BJP through Modi,Chauhan and DrRamansinghh have demonstrated clean governments with performance.To me performance on the job is a better indicator than noise through media.If you want to be gullible,it is your choice.

31-Dec-2013 06:56 AM

Comment Your comments are valuable.

I appreciate that corruption and honesty are ubiquitous. We all have a mix of these qualities whether we are poor or rich. The question is where do we stand in this broad spectrum as individuals?

As you pointed out, a "good" leader is an enabler. There are plenty of "good" people in India. They are not all leaders. Most of them have been disheartened, disappointed, sidelined, marginalized or un-empowered. A "good" leader provides them hope and an avenue to join in and contribute to the nation building process.

It is incumbent upon us to recognize any such opportunities and support and encourage them to materialize. Nobody knows all the facts and can predict future flawlessly. However, that should not make us cynical and critical of anything/everything that offers hope.

30-Dec-2013 23:36 PM

Comment You make a sharp distinction between 'the corrupt' and the, presumably, 'incorrupt'. However, in this world it is each man for himself, the poor being just as potentially corrupt as the not so poor, but with lesser powers, whence they cry out for a riddance of 'corruption' against those empowered. Show me a selfless poor man, whose life is dedicated to the service of others, who will not jump at an opportunity of gain, and I'll show you an equivalent at any level of politics. Corruption is not the monopoly of the better off, it only becomes more visible due to greater powers to gain financially. The masses in a sense are obliged in their relative state of innocence, whence they perceive themselves, as you do, as victims of corruption by the so-called 'corrupt'.

The emergence of the AAP with high principles would imply a whole new generation of officials who will act solely for the common good as their declared intention. This implies that their priority is the fulfilment of principles of fair play from which they derive their personal satisfaction. I would put it to you that such a ruling party already exists in its ideals, undermined by the reality.

Be that as it may, the shining light in the new order is the leader, A Kejriwal, who is the Nehru to Anna's Gandhi, with the charisma of a leader signifying a paradigm change from the perceived old order. Do we not see this in Pope Francis of the disgraced RC Church? One good man in leadership is a multitude, because that is where his power is, in each follower, and beyond. Let us hope, AK is a force for change in India, a change for the better in each citizen through his example. I would say of his leadership, it is of God, a providential act, as Pope Francis is in the RC Church.

30-Dec-2013 12:30 PM

Comment You are certainly entitled to your opinion. However, instead of getting emotional and making crude charges without any substantiation, take each of the issues you raised in your response and provide factual evidence.

As far as the manifesto is concerned, each party that aspires to contest elections and govern the country should clearly spell out its platform. The electorate have right to know what the party believes is good for the country and how it plans to bring it about. If you take time out and read carefully the AAP manifesto you will see their approach to fight corruption is covered within it.

I do not have anything in particular against Mr. Modi. In my earlier articles in this series I did mention his positive attributes. The point I am making is that merely criticizing and attacking the Congress is not the right approach. Instead, he should take time to explain what he plans to do differently and how he plans to address the problems with BJP?

30-Dec-2013 09:36 AM

Comment This writer clearly lives in fools paradise. First of all, AAP has only been making noises about corruption.If the writer wants a manifesto from BJP, what about AAP about their approach to corruption? Secondly AAP is populated by the same bunch of leftist loonies who were piggying back on congress.Why should that inspire me confidence when this bunch who look upto aruna roy as their mentor who is part of NDC of sonia?The writer may have his own personal agenda but then don't hoist it on us thinking we are gullible people.AAP as it stands today is a joke because they have joined hands with congress to form this government.This clearly is shit thrown on those who voted for them wanting monumental change from the rubbish who were ruling us in the name of congress.

30-Dec-2013 03:12 AM

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