Saturday, April 10, 2010

Bad Governance leaves Bureaucrats disillusioned

Dear Friends

It is my responsibility to give both sides of the coin with respect to Civil Services and civil servant.This article falls under 'signficant issues in Indian administration' as far as UPSC current syllabus is considered. 

But this should not deter you by taking the exam - as there is no other career can be compared to civil services in India. But at the same time you should not be in an illusion that civil services is feather's bed.  Let me tell you one thing upfront - as you all know clearing civil services is itself a big achievement but its not an end but its a beginning of a long journey which is hailed as even more difficult than clearing the exam. The war between politicians and bureaucrats is long standing and will continue. How well a civil servant handle his political head will depend on his success as a civil servant.

But these are only informations - which can be true or false. What you need to understand is - these issues are happening in Indian Administration.


Disillusioned, dispirited, disgusted, disenchanted, dismayed, disoriented, demoralized, dejected…… these adjectives sum up the current state of bureaucracy in Andhra Pradesh.

For six years now, bureaucrats in the state have been in disarray. Not all of them, of course, but the majority who are committed to work and service of people are certainly feeling the discomfiture.

Deprived of suitable postings where they could function more effectively and deliver better, most of the bureaucrats – particularly the younger lot – are left distressed.

Obviously, this state of despondency among the cream of civil servants – a result of abysmal cadre management – has left a telling impact on the administration in the state.

Administration had, literally, gone to dogs during the regime of (late) Y S Rajasekhara Reddy between 2004 and 2009. And, the rot seems to be continuing even under his successor K Rosaiah.

When S V Prasad, the 1975-batch Indian Administrative Service officer, became the Chief Secretary of Andhra Pradesh on December 31, 2009, bureaucrats saw a ray of hope in him. Most of the IAS officers, especially the “juniors”, sincerely hoped things would change under the guidance of S V Prasad as he was perceived to be an able officer who had a better understanding of the “cadre.”

Alas, all such hopes seemed to have dashed.

Reading the latest list of transfers (of IAS officers) affected on April 2, one would be left with a sore feeling.

Here’s a classic example: N Nageswara Rao, an IAS officer of the 1992 batch, has been appointed Collector and District Magistrate of Khammam district. He would now be the senior-most officer among the district Collectors in the entire state. That’s, however, not the news. Nageswara Rao practically has 363 days of service left before he superannuates on March 31 next year.

Now, what’s the sense in appointing such an officer to an important post as a district Collector? Another officer M Purushottam Reddy of the 1996 batch, who has been appointed as Collector of Mahbubnagar district, is just two years away from retirement.

Of the 23 districts in the state, 11 districts now have promotee IAS officers as Collector and District Magistrate. Exclude the state capital Hyderabad district, it become 50:50 for regular recruits and promotees. This is something that hasn’t happened in the past.

Also, why did the government develop a sudden love for such officers and land them in prime posts? Nageswara Rao and another IAS officer P Venkateswarlu (1994), posted to Adilabad district as Collector, have already risen to the rank of ‘Secretary to Government’ and should ideally be relegated to suitable postings in the Secretariat or other departments.

There are many young and deserving IAS officers, that too regular recruits, eagerly waiting to be posted to the coveted job of a district Collector. These are the ones who actually need to be posted in the districts so that they can move around with agility, work with more vigor and produce better results. But certainly not the ones who are on the verge of retirement.

Consider another ridiculous thing: Natarajan Gulzar has been appointed Collector and District Magistrate of Hyderabad. He is an IAS officer (regular recruit) of the 1999 batch. Now, he will boss-over a promotee officer V Durga Das (Joint Collector), who technically is one year senior to him in the IAS.

This isn’t the first instance where such postings were given. During YSR’s regime, a similar thing happened in West Godavari where Lav Agarwal (1996 batch) was the Collector and B Ramanjaneyulu (1995) was the Joint Collector.

The Chief Minister might be unaware of such technicalities but what were the top bureaucrats, who were supposed to guide him in such matters, doing? Was the Chief Secretary unaware of these lapses? Was also the Chief Minister’s Principal Secretary Jannat Husain ignorant about it?

Such goof-ups will not only show them in poor light but also threaten to damage the system as such.

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