Wily leaders, phony pen pushers stifle democracy
Bureaucrats are always busy. Particularly, in our democracy. They are always running around attending meetings, seminars, one-on-one and burn midnight oil over the schemes and programmes of the government, chasing the elusive targets.
Bureaucrats are always busy. Particularly, in our democracy. They are always running around attending meetings, seminars, one-on-one and burn midnight oil over the schemes and programmes of the government, chasing the elusive targets. The fundamental question, however, remains: What is it that you are getting done? Is it the paperwork? Or is it the real work? The question becomes pertinent because of the failings of the governments in implementing their promises except some pet themes and projects that the leaders hold dear to their hearts.
A complaint often heard is that the bloated ego of senior bureaucrats sticking to their paperwork are crushing the young and ideal officers. No ingenuity is allowed in governance and responsiveness is a crawl. The policy initiatives or changes made by the political heads often end up in disasters or non-implementation due to the "show" which lacks substance. As we see nowadays even the rewards follow not on the basis of results but on the basis of favouritism. A Chief Minister's eyes do not matter for the bureaucracy, as much as his/her ears do.
Favouritism flows from here and not based on merits, sadly. The cat and mouse game only means who is gaining power, credit or the blame setting aside everything else. The decline in bureaucracy is often shocking. The judgments and solutions are often based on the political rhetoric of the leaders. After the emergence of the regional parties thanks to identity politics, the decline has become sharper and more pronounced in bureaucracy to such an extent that it is the Legislature that takes the beating in the long run when such bureaucrats learn to please their masters and the latter become inevitably transfixed by the sycophancy.
Why do leaders forget to kick out such 'advisers' who play a negative role, a real worthless one, is bewildering sometimes. We often come across - rather on a regular basis - citizens complaining of 'officers' being busy and not being able to either meet them or address their grievances. Why don't they care or bother to address the genuine grievances of the people? Why don't they advise - if it is the fault of the Legislature - to go for course correction? Off-hand transfers of bureaucrats, denial of promotions at the topmost level by giving extensions to some and elevation of some unworthy officials to higher and powerful positions are all result of opportunistic politics played by the bureaucrats in tandem with the political masters.
Frank Sonnenberg, one of the top American thought leaders says, "The responsibility of a leader is to lead… The fact is some leaders are causing irreparable damage to great institutions by shirking their responsibilities. They're afraid to address difficult issues, make tough decisions, and introduce the change that's required to achieve long-term success." As he rightly calls them "these counterfeit leaders" spend much of their time playing politics, protecting their turf, and promoting their self-interests. To make matters worse, counterfeit leaders, in both public and private sectors, often masquerade as positive role models while condoning unethical or irresponsible behaviour that undermines the very foundation of their institution. Do we see any parallels inour country?