The picture of an Indian bureaucrat, taken by Dutch photographer Jan Banning of Laif Photos, that won the first prize in the portraits stories section of the World Press Photo of 2003. (Reuters) Courtesy: The Telegraph.
Can a babu reform himself? For an enlightening account of this read Pratap Bhanu Mehta’s account over here at Quite right, Sir Humphrey:
The more bureaucracies reform themselves, the more they remain the same
I came across the same issues in my short encounter with the Administrative Reforms department. The same blinkered approach to tinker with the rules but not the framework of rules. Dig in deep and you will find some bewildering incentives at work.
If there were no slums in Delhi, which department would lose its paycheck?
If there were no children to be schooled, which department would lose its budget?
If none of the roads needed repairs, which department would lose money?
Think about it!
We often hear this cry against corruption. That if corruption were removed, India would become a great nation. Sorry! I don’t buy that. If all the government officers in India were honest and never took bribes, India would have been worse off. And if the people (confused between law and morality), did not offer bribes, the state of affairs would have been much worse. Corruption is a symptom of a badly designed regulatory system. It is also a symptom that the law is failing to keep pace with the demands of the people. Dig deeper and you will find government mandated monopolies (sadak, bijli, pani etc) to be the major source of corruption. As usual, the rich can afford to bypass these laws by corrupting, but the poor cannot. It is they who bear the brunt of these rules. They need liberalization from babus and rules!