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Bureau Of Sighs

Bureau Of Sighs

The bureaucracy—its morale at an all-time low—stands infected

Bureau Of Sighs PTI

The imagination of nation-building in free India incorporated within it a critical role for a merit-based civil service. This was expected to offer independent counsel to elected governments for fighting poverty and want, controlling communal and caste violence, and building the sinews of infrastructure for a strong nation. To insulate it from illegitimate political pressures, civil servants were guaranteed many constitutional and statutory protections.

But today, India’s higher civil services stand discredited, almost in ruins. The political leadership has tamed the bureaucracy with allurements of sharing power and illegal wealth and the simple threat of less attractive postings. Failure to implement land reforms, corruption, criminal partisanship in communal and caste conflagrations and extra-judicial killings and the supine response to the Emergency and the Babri Masjid demolition were milestones in this decline. Since the neo-liberal economic reforms, the bureaucracy has avariciously participated in crony capitalism. Alienated from the masses, it has allowed public services to decay. And it is rarely willing to offer fearless advice to the political leadership. Its morale and independence are at an all-time low, barring perhaps during the Emergency.

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