Corruption Challenges – Lokpal, POCA, etc

[op-ed snap] It’s time officers renewed their commitment to the nation, not the govt of the day

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Nothing much

Mains level : Civil Services - need for reforms

CONTEXT

We often hear questions on the integrity of civil services, organisations such as the Enforcement Directorate and the CBI and the intentions of taxmen when they do some tasks as part of their job.

Background

There is a belief that the country’s “rusted steel frame” poses a challenge. But not many concrete measures to offer that can strengthen and refurbish it. 

Civil services training 

  • The training academies in Mussoorie, Hyderabad, Nagpur, Baroda, Shimla, etc. are state-of-the-art and well-equipped to enhance the skills of trainees.
  • These institutes impart training in subjects specific to the job profile of each service.
  • But what about the spirit of the civil services? What about “the impartiality and incorruptibility of administration”, that Sardar Patel expected? 
  • The backbone to withstand the pressures of expediency, politicians, media, and mobs is withering.

Role models who fought alone

  • A commissioner of police who, when asked not to oppose the bail of a film star who was the son of a Mumbai politician, refused to comply, politely but firmly.
  • A young IAS officer refused to write the interview marks of candidates in pencil — so the politicians on the board could “manipulate” them later.
  • A tax officer refused to open a closed file to “teach a lesson to an unfriendly” business house.

Challenges

  • These actions are known only to a few.
  • There are awards for innovation and achieving targets, but none for awarding an officer for standing by the principles she is supposed to be true to.
  • Case studies have been developed for performance, but none exist for those who abide by their commitment to a just and equitable society and dare to differ with “orders from the top”.

Problems

  • Encroachment of the sphere of work of civil servants by self-serving politicians of all political parties. 
  • Civil servants have been slow in the delivery of services and tardy in the implementation of policies. 
  • Many civil servants have become corrupt.
  • Services lost their speed of delivery and idealism in the 1960s. 
  • The relevance of civil services remains limited, post-liberalisation.

Civil Services for the common man

  • Common man still sees a lot of hope in the civil services. 
  • His dream is to have his child join them for the prestige and power that the services seem to carry. 
  • To him, the services represent a very important tool to establish an equitable society through which he hopes to better his life and the future of his children. 
  • He does not think of “using” the services for his selfish ends but for the common good.

What civil servants have to do

  • Spread the culture of performance and accountability and punish the corrupt. 
  • Resist undue pressures from different players, and concentrate on the delivery of services to the poor.

Justice Khanna – a case study

  • Justice H R Khanna remains the most remembered for his principled stand against Emergency. 
  • Very few have heard of the other four judges. 
  • Though his judgment blew him away from the coveted chair of the Chief Justice of India, about 50 law graduates wrote about him for his refusal to toe the line of the selfish political leadership of the time.

CONCLUSION

We need the likes of Justice Khanna to motivate the civil services to take a principled stand.

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