Rang de Basanti has set the whole mood of changing the nation to an extent where everybody is talking about how to change the country overnight. Spirited arguments about joining IAS/IPS, joining politics, forming forums to fight for justice are all being voiced vociferously and by everybody. But will all that really make a difference. A question was also asked whether Indians in the various parts of the globe, who are conscious about their country, can effect any change from there.
The level of debate has risen to such an extent that makes it seem that the governing rules in the country are so bad that the country is going to dogs, or at least that’s what 76,547,894 bloggers who have reviewed the movie feel.
I don’t know much about what these people can do or for that matter what I can do, but I believe its time to stop making provisions in the constitution and go for a revamp on the ways of governing. There should be some mandatory minimums in place in the central government by which I believe there can be shift in the way of the decision making in the country. My wish list is the following:
1. There should be only one agenda: The Agenda of the Prime Minister’s Office. No party agenda or the agenda of the bureaucracy should be in place that is given importance.
2. There should be a PMO. Not the current PMO where the Chief Secretary or the Principal Secretary calls the shots. Yes they should assist but they should not be the be all and end all. My reasoning for drafting of Officer’s On Special Duty (OSD’s) is based on this:
There is a basic flaw in the policy regarding these IAS officers. Understand this. An IAS academy pass out is first posted in some god-forsaken district as its collector or something and in the due course of time say 15-20yrs brought into the main stream policy making body in the cadre of secretaryship.
Even here he is drafted from one branch to another. Now I believe this is right because if one officer gets to stay in a department and in a place for a long time he might get monopolistic and he might get corrupt. This rotation policy was a master stroke by the founding fathers, but how can a Higher Education Department official, in that department for 6yrs, get promoted to become a Revenue Secretary of a state and then write a policy paper on Revenue Changes within 20 months of office. Yes I agree these IAS guys are geniuses and that they are the creamiest of the lot but tell me… can anybody do that. Especially on policies that effect millions of poor people.
I can see a lot of criticism coming from one particular IAS aspirant but to appeal to his better judgment, this has what been happening from a long time and its time this changes. Take the case of IFS or EC. The guys in that department are fixed to that department alone and there are doing a great job. Problem could be with some jerks like Natwar Singh but the department has always done well. Why can’t you have a guy drafted into a department right at the beginning of his career and reach the pinnacle after serving tenures in various states so that the policy stance that he/she might take will be through experience gained and not by biased opportunistic expert opinions.
3. Decision making process should be done at 3 levels. The gram panchayat level, the ministry level and the PMO level. This helps in the clarity of decisions made so that every consideration and every requirement is met. The present situation is that of ministerial level policy making and then being approved by the PMO. Now it’s easy for lobbyists to center around one or two persons and get the work done.
4. PMO: Now its here that I believe maximum changes should come. Firstly there should be a PMO with the handpicked staff of the PM. Now these people need not necessarily be IAS officers, but impartial people who have been associated with governing in various walks of life.
The senior IAS officers should assist them and the collective decision of these people is what the PM should consider. I ask for a Chief of Staff, his deputy, director’s for various departments in the PMO acting as liaisons between the PMO and the Ministry and who have the power to get a detailed reports from any sources – governmental or independent so that a complete picture is painted before the PM. And these directors could be anybody – industry experts, policy experts, prominent lawyers or unbiased and achieving individuals in their field who have been closely associated with management.
The role of these guys is not to take a stance on policy but to get the whole facts right, facts from all sources, agencies, departments and general people so that the final decision is unbiased and not Uni-dimensional in the case of information from just a member in a particular ministry.
5. Elected Representatives: I truly believe in this. All the ministry level appointments should be of only elected representatives and not of nominated members. I understand that winning votes requires muscle power and running a ministry requires intellect but if made mandatory, we will have leaders who are both.
Consider the current situation. Most of the top level ministers we have these days have no public image except that they were loyal to some member of the first family for years. And the list starts with Dr. Manmohan Singh himself. Now I ain’t got no issues with him leading the nation and I think he is one of the most able one too but the whole rule of elected members leading the nation goes out of the window.
Just consider the number o people who have occupied high positions who are not directly elected – Natwar Singh, Praful Patel, Ambica Soni, Pramod Mahajan, Jaswant Singh, Sushma Swaraj, Gulam Nabi Azad, Sushil Kumar Shinde, T. Subbi Rami Reddy etc. Loyalty should not be the reason for power; it has to be the people’s mandate.
The reason for my proposal for limitation of power for bureaucracy is because of the fact that they tend to become complacent due to the permanent appointments and the comfort of power that is offered. As it’s said, it’s difficult to get out of the habit of killing than killing for the first time. Similarly there should be provisions where handpicked members of PMO be given power to act as levers between various departments, validate all facts, call for independent expert committee’s themselves and take the proposal for implementation.