Monday, 2 July 2012

India, sans accountability of the elite class – our bureaucrats

A mail going around in my circle commented upon the Lokpal recommended by Anna Hazare as not being accountable to anyone. While not going into this issue, the thought that came to my mind was whether we really have accountability in our country.

The most recent instance of a true farce has been our President accepting the mercy petition and commuting the death sentence of a man (Tidke) who had died five years ago! And the ridiculous argument given was that the file was moved only 2-3 years ago? But why was the file only moved 2-3 years ago? Obviously the plea had been filed, at the very latest, in 2007. So who was responsible for the delay of the intervening period? And if the pardon was accorded only now, what was the new development which took place which allowed a decision to be FINALLY taken –unless of course it was the Supreme Court looking into these delays. (http://www.hindustantimes.com/News-Feed/India/Death-by-waiting-India-s-mercy-plea-debate/Article1-833887.aspx) And the rationale in according the decision very obviously was NOT the petitioner’s behaviour till date. The president’s office has also clarified that all the cases had been examined by the Home Minister and that they were fully satisfied that the government had tendered its advice properly. (http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/article3570321.ece).  But the moot question is – who is responsible for the entire situation which has resulted in the country’s highest office becoming a laughing stock? I have not read in the newspapers of any action being initiated against anyone.
We have another infamous case of the appointment of Mr. Thomas as the Chief Vigilance Commissioner. While I have commented in detail on this case in an earlier post (http://sahaas.blogspot.in/2011/03/does-probity-of-pm-and-others-allow.html) , which officials of the State and Central Government were hauled up for both the delay and the blunder? No one!!

Then let’s look at the ‘demise’ of Air India, due to sheer mismanagement and wrong decisions. It has been run by bureaucrats for several decades – but who has heard of any probe into the causes of the failure or of any bureaucrat being questioned in this matter?
And there is the case of construction being permitted in Noida Extension and then stopped by the court. Who is bothered about the sufferings of the general public who have booked flats there? And which officials were involved in the granting of permission in the first place – have they been penalized in any manner? Such cases are innumerable - one can just go on and on.

The administration of the States rests with the IAS. But look at the way they turn a blind eye to the most obvious – the pitiable condition of departments they manage – the roads, the encroachment of pavements, the illegal colonies to name only a few. When we have the tragic case of Mahi, or of elephants being hit on the highway, the names of the private individuals involved surfaces immediately, but in matters of officialdom, all is shrouded in a veil of secrecy.
Like in all other matters, we have good bureaucrats and bad ones – why as a country have we given up our rights to have this class too in the dock, just like any other government employee, for cases of malafides, poor decisions, procrastinations, crass negligence, turning a blind eye to wrongs and last, but not the least, an inability to administer and run efficient departments and organisations - forget they being examples for others to emulate?