By Rahul Mazumdar:
Until a few days ago, Indian bureaucrats were often viewed as commodities of show that did as instructed and often bore the repercussions of their ministers’ irregularities. It was a pity to find highly qualified men and women dressed impeccably in their formal attire, dancing to the tunes of often uneducated and irresponsible ministers, the same way in which a brave soldier was bound to obey the whims of an idiot rulerÂ in old times. But a recent tweet by Amitabh Kant, a 1980 batch IAS Kerala cadre — ‘1st time in my career free, frank & fearless interaction with d PM of d country. Highly motivating! Gr8 flow of ideas!’ prompts us to think that times are changing for the better.
This turn of events was quite expected. Even Narendra Modi’s most vocal critics have not been able to question his hard work and his pleasant obsession for development. Ever since it became clear that the tea seller from Vadodara would be sworn in as India’s 16th Prime Minister, there have been remarkable changes in the national economic scenario. The one that has caught all eyes has been Mr. Modi’s attempts to empower ‘Babus.’ Modi seems keen on implementing the same technique at the center that worked in Gujarat – place more trust in bureaucrats than ministers. The big question is ‘Are bureaucrats ready for such a drastic change in the working atmosphere?’
It would be a Herculean task to take the bureaucrats under his confidence for Mr. Modi. Even though he has declared that he would be personally available to all Union Secretaries on phone as well as on mail (a move that may eventually lead to overcentalization of power), the question is whether Babus would have the audacity of signing files without fearing the future wrath of their respective ministers? A recent Supreme Court verdict that the Central Bureau of Investigation could probe officers holding the rank of joint secretaries and above without prior governmental permission is bound to make the bravest bureaucrats think twice before taking any such risk, but Mr. Modi has tried his level best to manifest a healthy working atmosphere for bureaucrats till now.
He has provided a formal assurance to all secretaries to stand by them in case of any bonafide mistakes that often get blown out of proportion by investing agencies, increasing bureaucrats’ reluctance to make bold moves. His claim of ‘no red tapes, only red carpet for investors’ has motivated bureaucrats to do away with primitive ways of working. His strong work ethics has meant an increase in the working hours that would provide a hard working person enough opportunity to make his mark. His recent move of amending the TRAI Act to appoint Nipendra Misra as the Principal Secretary to the PM owing to the latter’s image of an honest and capable officer has acted as morale boosting capsule for others. Joining him to form the top trio are Ajit Doval as the National Security Adviser known to have zero tolerance towards terrorism and Ajit Kumar Seth as the Cabinet Secretary.
Narendra Modi has lived up to his image of a hardworking no nonsense leader till now, his track record provides enough proof for one to hope of better days ahead, at least where economic development is concerned. As for the Babus, ‘With great power comes great responsibility,’ better but along with it busier days are bound to arrive.