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Problems of Indian Bureaucracy | Social Issue Essay, Article, Paragraph for Class 12, Graduation and Competitive Examination.

Problems of Indian Bureaucracy

Scheme of the essay

Exposition: ‘Governments never learn only people learn’

Rising Action: Progress is linked with the government’s intervention in the lives of the people.


(1) Every office of a public servant is full of corrupt and lazy workers.

(2) Public servants are unimaginative and uninspiring.

(3) Public servants consider themselves to be law.

(4) They lack the feeling of camaraderie.

(5) Levels of motivation are poor.

Falling Action: Three factors in defence of Indian bureaucrats.

Ending: Total Catharsis is needed.

Milton Friedman once said: “Governments never learn.

Only people learn.” Perhaps, Friedman with his sagacious foresight had already foreseen the myriad problems which would continue to bedevil India’s bureaucracy much ahead of its time. Whatever happens in government could have happened much differently and it’s usually much better if it happens differently. Sadly, this becomes evident only after it happens!! The course of human civilisation has taught several important lessons which, if garnered and internalised, can be a sound touchstone for testing the enduring qualities of any country. One such lesson is that the all-around development and progress of almost every generation in human civilisation has been inextricably linked to the quality and quantity of government intervention in the lives of the people. Indeed, a sensible and sound bureaucracy has been a sine qua non for a sensible and sound nation.

India, despite possessing one-sixth of the human race and the finest repository of human intelligence, has sadly over the years reduced its governance systems to nothing more than an object of ridicule, disgust, and shame. Consider some of the principal, unofficial traits of our public services.

There is hardly a square inch of land in the country free from corruption. Almost every office of any public servant is the shameful habitation of the indolent and the corrupt. What is shocking is that it does not even shock people anymore, even as corruption becomes more and more institutionalised!! Public services in India are slow, unimaginative, inefficient, and uninspiring. While one of the central reasons for this is the nature of society and systems prevalent in contemporary India, another vital part is also because of one’s own doing. Starting from something as mundane as the decor of public offices to the yardsticks used for measuring performance, most public services are singularly uninspiring and demotivating.

Almost everyone in the public services is accountable to no one and perpetually considers himself above the law. Respect for the rule of law is shamefully uncommon and it is often noticed that those who violate the law in the most egregious fashion are the ones who get away the easiest. As such, there is a general attitude of cocking-a-snook at authority. Accountability is sadly but surely perishing at all levels. Unlike any other organised professional outfit, the public services lack any feeling of camaraderie or oneness. Touch a journalist and his colleagues will be out in the street demanding justice. Try suspending an errant employee and the union would be at your doorstep in no time. But transfer, humiliate an IAS officer and nobody utters a word. In fact, many of his own colleagues would happily come forward to assist the undertaker. This should not be confused as to mean a mob mentality but this is to ensure a sense of positive security for the honest officer who has the courage to overrule his political masters when the need arises.

There is absolutely no pride in the job one is doing or in the service one belongs to and as such, levels of motivation in government are abysmally poor. This is directly linked to the shameful pay and perks of most public servants. Unlike public servants in any other developing country, India’s public servants’ pay scale are till date fixed on the basis of an archaic method wherein the officer’s pay scale is determined as a certain ratio of his own peon’s salary. Civil servants in India are paid salaries which no self-respecting driver or cook of any MNC would accept. Yet they accept it and do not fight for this right for their own cupboards are teeming with all kinds of skeletons. Sixthly, pubic services function in a political system which has, over the years, attracted some of the country’s most dubious individuals for politics itself has become the easiest means to steal from the public purse, with no strings attached.

Rather than looking at issues such as these much time and noise is spent on fictitious debates about the superiority of one service over the other, anonymity and individual heroes. There is no denying the simple truth that almost everyone who fills the civil services examination from, opts for the IAS as the first choice, with a few rare exceptions. Due to the current system, most of those who don’t get into the IAS (but make it to some other service) have a perpetual chip on their shoulder. The IAS must be gracious enough to concede that the IPS for one, works under similar cruel circumstances and are often made to suffer as much at the hands of politicians as their counterparts in the IAS. This is largely not true of those in the other services.

Looking at the gravity of things at the ground level where almost all systems of accountability and control are wasting away, nothing short of a total catharsis can help restore any order to India’s beleaguered public services. Towards this end, a first step would be to start a national debate on the various aspects of public services including pay and personnel management, accountability, transparency, responsiveness, and integrity in the services.

In defence of India’s public services, there are only three factors which need reiteration. One, is that no other collection of individuals could have done a better join in similar circumstances. The recent failure of corporate masters like Russie Mody in trying to work within such a system is perhaps the most telling proof thereof. Two, much of what the bureaucracy produces is unmeasurable on any yardstick of profit and loss. This is an inherent problem faced by any bureaucracy in the world, except for purely commercial enterprises. Three, a large part of the problem lies within. The narrow, petty, and often envious attitude of public servants towards one another greatly impairs the effectiveness of the system as a whole. It needs to be emphasised that there is perhaps no better a collection of intelligence and talent in the country as in the civil services than anywhere outside it. What is needed is a country-wide awareness of the fact that it is impossible to run a reformed economy with an unreformed civil service. The sooner this realisation dawns, the better it would be for the country as a whole. The catharsis must begin from within and the appropriate stimuli from outside.

Nothing, but narrow insular interests is holding back from doing this. This, if any, can prevent the current path to peril on which the public services of India appear to be well-set on. It appears like the beginning of the end, but India’s public services with their tremendous internal resilience, must prove that rather than being the beginning of the end or the end of the beginning, it is only the beginning of a new beginning.


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