Indian bureaucracy -----Indian Administrative Service (IAS), Indian Foreign Secrvice ( IFS), Indian Police Service (IPS), and other central services and states services----have become much-maligned today in the wake of the degeneration of India with creeping corruption, inefficiency and of all lack of vision because of the encouragement of corrupt and thug political classes ,ruling the India successively since independence ! Among the many things our bureaucrats are worse legacies of the British Empire ! The Indian civil servants have become massively corrupt. Even Pundit Jawahar Lal Nehru, the first Prime Minister of India had little respect for the bureaucrats in India .As Pundit Nehru put in his autobiography, written in 1935, ' few things are more striking today in India than the progressive deterioration, moral and intellectual, of the higher services, more specially, the Indian Civil Services (ICS). This is most in evidence in the superior officials, but it runs like a thread throughout the services'. Nehru had called officials as 'imperialists stooges'.The time changed. And after independence, Nehru entrusted the officials of the ICS to conduct the gigantic tasks of 1952 general elections, the first elections in independence India hesitatingly because there were no alternatives. Moreover,'great credit is due to those who are in charge of this stupendous first experiment in Indian history. Bureaucracy has certainly proved its worth by honestly discharging the duties imposed on it by a honest prime minister', Lucknow based sociologist D P Mukherji commented. The author of the book-India After Gandhi--Ramachandra Guha has written," in this respect, the 1952 elections was a script jointly authored by historical forces for so long opposed to one another: British colonialism and Indian Nationalism. Between them these forces had given this new nation what could be fairly described jump -start to democracy."
In fact the bureaucracy, as it exists today, is essentially, a creation of British Raj. At that time, it gave slaved India, and administration that was impartial but insensitivity. Eminent bureaucrat of independent India T N Seshan, in his book---The Degeneration of India---with his co-author journalist Sanjoy Hazarika has written, " the close association of the administration with the ruling colonial regime bred a natural suspicion of them among political activists. After all, the politicians were involved in the independence movement. The job of the administration was to suppress that campaign -any movement that constituted a challenge to colonial authority---and toss people in jail................The suspicion and hostility of the politicians towards civil servant and vice-versa has continued even after independence.. Each saw the other as a threat to his or her position and a competing centre of power...........The main civil service as it operates across the country's districts, which is where its impact is most pronounced, has two arms: the Collector (also known as the district magistrate or deputy commissioner) and the Superintendent of police. Several collector ates are grouped under a senior administrator, known as commissioner to form a division. The senior police officials, who ranks at the same level as the commissioner, is a deputy inspector general of police, some time an inspector general...At the second tier, the state level , the top officials is the chief secretary.......director general of [police is similar.....the top layer in the whole country comprises, the cabinet secretary, who is supposed to do on a national level what the chief secretary of a state does............" In nut sell this is the structures of bureaucracy in India.
There were a few officials like Lalan Prasad Singh, ICS, former union home secretary. P C Alexander, secretary to Indira Gandhi ands Rajiv Gandhi, K Pradhan, former union home secretary, T N Seshan, former chief of the Election Commissioner of India, former rural development secretary N C Saxena etc, who proved their metal and did not buckle under political pressures and remained officials of proven integrity. Although political interferences in administrative work started just after independence ,Pundit Nehru, Sardar Patel, the chief ministers, B C Roy (West Bengal , B G Kher (Bombay), S K Sinha (Bihar), G V Pant (Uttar Pradesh), R S Shukla (central province ), Kamaraj ((Tamil Nadu) were the political personalities, who never tolerated any interferences in the domains of bureaucrats by ruling or opposition political elites and rather, they protected the officials from any wrong-doings of ruling political classes in the respective states and at the centre.
But the deterioration in civil service began in 1960s. The successive brand of politicians in league with officials started indulging in corruption to mint money. Not only in corruption, they indulged but both officials and political classes bended rules, acts, and some cases even the Constitution for ' wrong doings.' Both the groups ganged up together in defeating India's first post-independence experiment with devolution of power to the villagers or the panchayati raj system. Both the groups ganged up in such way while implementing the system,, the experiment ended up in joke in early 1950s to 1970s. It was corrected only the prime minister ship of Rajiv Gandhi when an Act for Panchayati Raj was enacted .Another casualty in the confrontation between the civil service and politicians was the police, especially the lower constabulary and the general administration. Officials began siding with the ruling politicians because they were more vulnerable. Police connived with the ruling politicians for creating jungle raj instead of rule of law. In the merciless attack on bureaucracy, the American humorist P J O'Rourke says that since the 'actual work of government is too unglamourous for the people who govern us', they create' bureaucratic departments to perform the humdrum tasks of national supervision. Government proposes, bureaucracy disposes. And the bureaucracy must dispose of government proposals by dumping them on us' (O'Rourke, 1992)
These days civil service is confused It is in search of an identity, but its role is determined by the perception of its political masters, not by the people. In this manner, the Indian bureaucracy , like other arms of governance in India is on 'slippery downward slope' Rewards are sought and given not for merit and efforts but for those who can cut deals, broker arrangements. Seshan says in his book, " India's political structure and philosophy now says that everything is acceptable unless you are caught or being blackmailed. Civil servants have taken a leaf from politicians in this regard:if you find some thing illegal, like accepting or demanding dowry, then there are two options before you. Neither option is honest one. It is a choice, these days, between resorting to influence peddling to get out of a fix or just brazening it out.. In addition, civil servants are battered to death, openly assaulted in their offices, intimidated in other ways including transfers and threat of foisted corruption charges "
.The Indian civil service is still on the same pattern of frame built by the British Raj. In India, IAS and other allied services men are considered 'highest elite classes' in the society even today. These IAS officials get training in British pattern since they join as probationers in Mussoorie. IAS probationers have been allotted to stay at the grandest, the Charleville, that stood on a ridge in Happy Valley and boasted a stay by the Prince of Wales (later George fifth) and Princess Mary of Teck, who in 1906 could never have envisaged that 50 years later everything devised for their comforts-the kitchens, the stables, the dinning rooms, the linen cupboards--would be in the hands of the people banned from the mall. Ian Jack has written in the Guardian , " everything has changed , nothing has changed. The era that produced hill stations also laid down the foundations of the Indian Administrative Service, the IAS, which together with the Indian Foreign Service used to attract (and arguably still does) the brightest from each generation.. The IAS owes its structures to the British India Civil service, the ICS, which administered the country as a colonial possession from 1858 until 1947 through district officer system, in which a young Briton, public school and Ox bridge educated, passed a highly competitive examination and after some tuition in Indian languages and customs was given charge of an Indian district as populous as an English country, where under various titles (collector, district magistrate, deputy commissioners) he took charge of law and order and land revenues and any other piece of government policy that needed enforcing........."
"............Lloyd George called it "the steel frame on which the whole structure of our government and of our administration in India rests" and the IAS has kept the steel frame pretty much intact. Its officers exercise enormous authority over a district population of between one and two million, some time barely familiar with the local language, apt to be lonely, forever facing the temptation of bribery. And they start so young, so terribly young. The new recruits in Mussoorie, the lucky thousands who have been chosen from 500,000 candidates by excelling in exams and interviews , are young enough to address visitors as Sir or Madam, but in a year or two they will sit as rulers of their small kingdoms, having been examined in Hindi, the Constitution and the Laws. A young ICS man, setting out from Tilbury to India in 1910, would have felt no less blessed or anxious."
In a country that over the past 20 years has been transformed -some would say disfigured-by private money, the IAS has survived as a a still-impressive public institution. As the College's deputy director Ranjana Chopra, said, speaking to the IAS's ability to handle natural disasters better than George Bush's Washington. "Everything may not work well in India, but here is something that does."
But the facts are otherwise about IAS, IFS, IPS and central and state services, these cadre men have now become most corrupt, barring a few. One politicians quipped, " it is the officers who teach us the first lesson of wrong doings by bending rules, laws and ultimately the Constitution, for minting money in present day India". Entire edifice of these cadres have crumbled under the pressure of corruption to mint money and also to give favours to persons of influence and in this game poor people of India are worse sufferers !
Before I sum up the essay, I think it proper to quote T N Seshan, who has said, " I spend sleepless nights worrying about the degeneration of the country and wandering what my contribution to the regenerative process..........." and also the dream of Mahatma Gandhi for just and equatable society ! In both the sections, these elite bureaucrats have failed miserably by succumbing to the pressure of successive brands of politicians !