- GS-2: Governance & Public Administration
Reforming Indian Bureaucracy
Context: India’s civil services have some of the best and brightest as also some of the worst, just like in any collection of people.
However, the bureaucracy that took India through the last 75 years can’t be the one to take it through the next 75 — we need a proactive, imaginative, technology-savvy, enabling bureaucracy. Some of the changes required are:
- Doing away with outdated rules
- Bureaucracy, unlike the private sector, is a creature of the Constitution and is bound by multiple rules, laws, and procedures which has its origin in Colonial rule.
- Thus there is a need to do away with or repeal some of the outdated rules & laws
- Increasing the staff strength
- As per estimates compiled by the Institute of Conflict Management, the government of India (GOI) has about 364 government servants for every 1,00,000 residents, with 45 per cent in the railways alone.
- About 60 per cent and 30 per cent are in Groups C and D, respectively, leaving a skeletal skilled staff of just about 7 per cent to man critical positions
- That political masters must get bureaucrats out of those sectors which are best handled by private players. Additionally, government has fill up its vacancies quickly.
- There is a need to automate every major touchpoint between the government, citizens, and businesses so as to reduce the requirement of manned bureaucracy.
- Lateral entry needs to expand to up to 15 per cent of Joint/Additional and Secretary-level positions in GOI.
- Incentivising officers’ willingness to take decisions
- Excessive scrutiny by Judiciary, enforcement agencies & media has made bureaucracy obsessed with accountability to processes and not to results. This mind set has eventually turned them into inactive bureaucracy.
- For example, the progress of last-mile connectivity and electronics for BharatNet, the recapitalisation and reform of failing banks, the distribution and transmission sectors and the privatisation of space are moving, although slowly.
- In order to increase the officers’ willingness to take decisions, there is a need to legally prevent enforcement agencies from taking punitive action, like arrest for purely economic decisions without any direct evidence of kickbacks.
- Instead, a committee of experts with commercial experience constituted by the government should suggest whether it’s corruption or just a decision gone wrong.
- Improve Human Resource Management
- Changes in recruitment procedures, like the interview group spending considerable time with the candidates and not deciding based on a half-hour interview, along with psychometric tests, will improve the incoming pool of civil servants.
- Most importantly, after 15 years of service, all officers must undergo a thorough evaluation to enable them to move further.
- One has to realign incentives institutionally, to promote those who are honest and send home those who steal/are non-performers
India cannot hope to get to a $5-trillion economy without a modern, progressive, results-oriented bureaucracy.
Connecting the dots:
- Mission Karmayogi
- Lateral Entry into Civil Services
News Source: Indian Express