Thursday, February 21, 2013


Competent administrators can do more justice to their posts

The grind that one has gone through dealing with Indian bureaucracy not only represents their corruption and sloths but also their incompetence. The flaws in the recruitment process and the regulations of the bureaucrats have overbearing effect on the outcome of their efficiency level that really doesn’t match what it should be. A very important Ministry like Defence or Science & Technology are no different either, with the recruitment process of bureaucrats lacking in every aspect of the yardstick and in the process inviting criticism that can put the Ministry off-guard regarding the credibility of the employees of its bureaucracy.

The bureaucrats are recruited from the general streams and then trained to hone their skills required for the requisite job. The training and their ability to grasp the skills requires a few years – and since they generally are positioned at a particular office for 5 years before they are rotated – the cycle almost comes to completion by the time they are ready with their wherewithal for the job and they are moved out! Therefore the looming wastage of time, human resource and money is enough to prove that the government is not doing its bit to improve the quality of its bureaucrats. In Ministry of Defence, particularly, this kind of knowledge and expertise gap frequently leads to delay in different activities like acquisitions, training, military readiness and expenditure. The late Mr. K. Subrahmanyam’s recommendation suggested on the similar line highlighting the incident of Defence Ministry duplicating the military’s file through the bureaucrats as a case in point.

Praveen Kishore, a World Bank fellow, and a candidate from the John F. Kennedy School of Government in one of his reports suggests that "Opening up the higher civil service, particularly at the senior levels, could be beneficial." This can obviously act as a catalyst to the general improvement of Ministry's infrastructure, acquisitions and project completion. In China, more than 75 per cent of political seats are occupied by young technocrats thus making sure that the efficiency is at its peak from day one, unlike our country wherein bureaucrats take years to get settled and conversant with work culture and technology. The same is true for UK, Singapore and other nations. A few nations went ahead and have established world-class institutions of politics, governance and administration. Such institutions are present in nations like China, US, Israel, Mexico, Mongolia, Singapore, Ecuador, New Zealand, Japan, Sri Lanka, Liberia and even in Kuwait - to name a few, literally.

Currently, there is no system or procedure of even evaluating the 'acquired-competence' of a babu even after five or six years of his recruitment. In spite of suggestion in ARC (that has been acknowledged and accepted), no much heed can be seen in administrative reforms. This gives rise not only to corruption but also creates leakages in the delivery mechanisms. Without an iota of doubt, an war veteran or an seasoned aviation professional would do more justice to Defence or Aviation respectively than a bureaucrats with an Arts background.

The candidates recruited for bureaucracy must have technical background where the need for training can be avoided to a large extent and thereby precious time, money and resources can be saved. The five years taken by bureaucrats to learn the nitty-gritty can be saved by deploying him to a department for which he is fit for! The same approach can be replicated to all Ministries, that calls for expertise and technical competence, for averting the risks and enhancing performance for all the stakeholders involved, at large!


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