TENDER FOR A TURBAN (OR TWO): IT HAPPENS ONLY IN INDIA!

I came across a social media post today. Later, someone forwarded it on my WhatsApp ID.

It was a perfect example of how labyrinthine Indian bureaucracy is – that how tortuous its ways are – that how obsolete its functioning is – still!

It was a newspaper cutting of an advertisement by the General Administration Department of the Himachal Pradesh government – issued on May 31.

It is a tender advertisement issued in the name of an Additional Secretary level official.

And it is for!! Hold your breath!! Even if you are aware of some silly ways of the Indian bureaucracy!!

It is for turbans to be used by the drivers of the GAD, Himachal Pradesh.

Okay, if transparency has to the sole point, then why not follow the due process – even if it is for turbans or for a bicycle!

But what if it is for two turbans – and one of the stated terms of the tender notice says it cannot be more than Rs. 50 a meter.

So, for the sum total financials related with this ‘turban’ requirement cannot go beyond Rs. 350.

That is the sum total wisdom of our bureaucracy that propels the minds of the most brilliant lot of our nation – after all, recruitment to the Indian civil services is probably the most gruelling selection procedure in the country.

And examples like this ‘turban tender’ show transparency can never be more transparent than this!

ShimlaGADTender

This is the screenshot of the page with the directing link on Himachal Pradesh’s website.

Shimla2

And this is where you are directed.

Shimla3

And you can find the PDF of the tender document here.

I would not say ‘see it to believe it’ – because such pathbreaking acts are a norm with the archaic mode the Indian administration functions – including its bureaucracy – be it the archaic laws – or the all pervasive VIP culture. You can add more to it.

‘See it to feel the way you want to feel about it.’

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

A YOUNG IAS OFFICER, A YOUNG CHIEF MINISTER, A YOUNG PRIME MINISTER IN WAITING AND A DEMOCRACY IN TATTERS

How deep is the rot is evident from this incident where an IAS (Indian Administrative Service) officer was allegedly, wrongfully shunted and suspended on behest of the sand-mining mafia of the notorious criminal belt of western Uttar Pradesh?

It was an incident of the district Gautam Budh Nagar (popularly known as Noida and Greater Noida), that earns maximum revenue for Uttar Pradesh, India’s most populous state with a distinction of giving the country maximum number of prime ministers and ironically a state now that can be termed as the worst place for development politics and a haven for the criminal goons entering the mainstream of Indian politics.

The cities high on growth radars, not just in Uttar Pradesh, but anywhere in India, are the hot-spots for corrupt politicians and bureaucrats to earn quick money. And instances where bureaucrats, in this case Durga Shakti Nagpal, are rare who cannot be predicted to be driven by what but display rare honesty and follow integrity, in a world infested with corrupt bureaucrats in brazen cahoots with the equally menacing politicians.

It is not about certifying Durga Shakti Nagpal. But yes, she is a young and brave IAS officer who has worked with iron hand to establish the rule of law in a lawless land her brief career record of almost three years shows.

It is about the symbolization that her harassment has created (and any other similar incident sets) and its subsequent implications.

It can be said the hyperactive Indian media has played a sensible role here by highlighting Durga Shakti’s issue giving it a campaign sort of coverage with follow-up stories.

But how deeper is the rot can be gauged by the responses of two other directly involved stakeholders in any such issue – politicians and bureaucrats.

Once the media made it an issue (mind you, such issues are, indeed, non-issues, as Rajasthan chief minister Ashok Gehlot was saying over the transfer of the Jaisalmer Superintendent of Police who dared to open history-sheet of father of a Congress MLA, or as the Samajwadi Party politicians are saying over the suspension of Durga Shakti), the political class had to take position based on the side of political opportunism it was.

The political opposition in Uttar Pradesh saw points to score and the BJP, Congress and other outfits came out in open support of the suspended IAS officer though each of these political outfits have manipulated and colluded with the bureaucracy to indulge in corrupt practices to gain unfair advantages.

So a senior and honest IAS officer Ashok Khemka is transferred on questioning suspicious land deals of Robert Vadra, son-in-law of Sonia Gandhi and every democratic norm is subverted in giving Vadra a clean chit.

So, the top-wrung administrative officers of Gujarat turn a blind eye to the riots that take lives of hundreds. Many of them, for reasons known only to them, carry out fake encounters and are facing trials now.

So, the honest IAS and IPS officers and whistleblowers are either victimized or killed and the bureaucracy and the polity play silly politics on how to protect the ‘honest’ breed.

But, in fact, no one from these two stakeholders (bureaucracy + polity) wants to protect the remaining vestiges of honesty in bureaucracy. (There is no need to write on honesty in Indian politics. It was killed long ago.)

Victimization of the honest officer by corrupt seniors from bureaucracy and polity – it has been so routine in India that even the dumb filmmakers of India (they are in majority) have been weaving mainstream cinema stories around it for years. The subject has grown into an evergreen theme by now. Yes, in films, the victimized officers come out stronger winning over the final battle establishing the values of honesty and integrity.

Alas! That doesn’t happen in real life. (The reel life in this case, and in every such issue, is an extension of the suppressed emotions in the real life. And in India of the day, the difference between the reel and real life over such issues is there to stay.)

Politicians cannot loot this country so brazenly and shamelessly until they are not hands-in-glove with bureaucrats.

In fact, the lobby of IAS and IPS (Indian Police Services) officers is so strong that if they decide to raise an issue, politicians would think hundred times before taking an obstinate posture like Akhilesh Yadav and his party took in Durga Shakti’s case.

It is never wrong to say that bureaucrats run (and so manipulate) the system and so the country. Instead, their stronghold on the system is increasing with increasing criminalization of Indian politics where a growing number of half-baked and quality-illiterate politicians are finding chairs in the highest seats of policymaking.

But expecting a war cry (and indeed, by now, the nation should have heard the war cry by the lobby of bureaucrats loud and clear) on victimization of an honest IAS officer is like expecting from the Bhupinder Singh Hooda’s Haryana government that it would reopen the dubious land-deal cases of Robert Vadra for further investigation.

How can we expect this from the class of bureaucrats who, no matter how poor they were born, die filthy rich; who amass millions and millions of disproportionate wealth; who rush to touch feet of politicians to be in their good book; who brazenly allow and cover-up the wrongs of the political goons; who seldom visit the hinterlands but frame policies deciding fate of millions; who plot to siphon-off the public money by being complicit in the chronic political corruption eroding whatever little left in the name of democratic weaving of the country.

No surprise then that the Indian bureaucracy is among the most corrupt and least efficient in the world.

Yes, the issue is still raging, though slightly pushed to the background in last two days due to the ugly display of politics over Pakistan killing five Indian soldiers at Line of Control in J&. It reflects in the continued debate over the issue, in the suppressed emotions of ‘we, the bystander Indians’, and so the media is expected to cling to it for some more days. But what once the TRPs start drying up?

And that has started happening. So don’t think long term.

Anyway, don’t expect that some miracle is going to happen.

Some senior, obedient and ‘reverent’ bureaucrat of Uttar Pradesh would have advised the state government to exploit the system to put the brave lady in the dock as the chargesheet served to her says. It can be safely said politicians of Uttar Pradesh do not have that much of intellectual capital to implicate her falsely until they get advice from some seasoned bureaucrat.

But yes, true to the trademark brazenness of politicians, some cooked up cases were imposed on the lady in addition to the chargesheet served by the government of the young chief minister of Uttar Pradesh who had won the office with a landslide victory on promise of giving a reformist government.

But badlands of Uttar Pradesh remain the story of everything, where every parameter of a civilized society is taking a regular fall.

The issue also, once again, unmasks the doublespeak of yet another young face at the political forefront, Rahul Gandhi. It goes without saying that nothing in the UPA government can move if Rahul Gandhi doesn’t approve of. But he didn’t speak vocally on Durga Shakti’s harassment. Why of it – only he can answer, like on many other vital issues.

Yes, Sonia Gandhi did write to Manmohan Singh to look into the matter. And thus spoke Manmohan Singh, the comfortably numb prime minister of India, promising that rules would be followed in the case.

Now, the developments into the matter, as expected, say of some backdoor understanding between the Samajwadi Party (SP) and Congress. Congress needs SP support for the Food Security Bill. So, the emphasis, now, is on to hush up the matter.

So, the possible outcome in Durga Shakti’s case is going to be:

Her suspension would be revoked once she replies to the chargesheet as Akhilesh Yadav has indicated. It will satisfy the political ego of Uttar Pradesh government as well as will address the compulsion of the UPA government to act in the matter as Sonia Gandhi has publicly written for it.

After some time, once the controversy dies down, Durga Shakti, as reported, would seek and be given a cadre change to move out of Uttar Pradesh.

Three young faces, a 43-year old prime-ministerial nominee and dominating face of the largest party of the ruling coalition, a 40-year old chief minister of India’s most populous state and a 28-year old IAS officer, all, willing or unwilling, characters of yet another tragic drama in the botched history of Indian democracy – they sum up the irony of Indian democracy – that its weaving is increasingly becoming undemocratic.

An increasingly undemocratic atmosphere where the political class is getting more and more intolerant, alienated, lineage-based and corrupt; where political and bureaucratic corruption has percolated to almost every part of the society; where protesters and activists are targeted, suppressed, silenced or killed; where democracy is being pushed backward every passing day!

Indian democracy – a democracy in tatters and we are not doing enough to address it!

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

WHY IT IS REFRESHING TO SEE DURGA SHAKTI BECOMING A RALLYING POINT AGAINST THE POLITICAL HIGH HANDEDNESS

It is refreshing to see someone like her becoming a rallying point against the political high handedness and the incumbent corruption.

What lies beneath cannot be said but what is evident from the goings at the moment is she is an honest and dynamic Indian Administrative Service officer who is being hounded by the political ego and elements of corruption in Indian politics.

It is encouraging to see the symbolism reflecting in her victimization and the subsequent media and political uproar because it is not what the activism norms in India elicit.

In fact, it is still premature to term it as activism.

But it is good to see an anti-corruption symbolism in her for the reasons that push us to think that we need to raise voice for her; that we need to raise voice against the wrong; that we need to protest.

Any such symbolism, any such issue is a desperate need in India of the day – a democracy reeling under increasing political apathy and chronic corruption.

Dots are just small points of reference but they add up to form a line and so the larger frame of reference to mobilize support over an issue. Her case represents one such dot that could be a reference point in fight against corruption owing to its uniquely placed thematic elements:

She is a not a corrupt bureaucrat: Indian bureaucrats are notorious for their elitism, social alienation, corruption and insensitivity. So, someone from this class standing against the norms of bureaucratic corruption and norms of bureaucratic machinery in India is refreshing.

She is a young bureaucrat: Though there are no set benchmarks on which age-group people are more corrupt, it is the common and the right observation that youngsters are relatively purer and so better than the middle-aged and the elderly in reacting honestly on the wrongs in the society. Only an honest reaction on something wrong can motivate to act further to have a corrective action.

Certainly, Durga Shakti’s act is thought-provoking for many youngsters including her young colleagues in the bureaucracy.

It is foolhardy to think that her case is going to change how the bureaucracy and the polity function in India but it also tells us the younger and the purer thought in an otherwise rotten Indian bureaucracy is not fully dead yet.

She has stood her ground in the worst bad land of Indian politics: Anyone who knows the functioning of India’s bureaucracy and polity understands that she would be under immense pressure to toe the government line, even at the cost of becoming scapegoat to satisfy political ego and political corruption. But she has stood firm and that too in the badlands of Uttar Pradesh, a graveyard for issue-based politics. That is certainly encouraging.

Whatever happens to the outcome, but it certainly tells the spark is there. Let’s see when the fire is lit. Let’s work to light the fire.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

VICTIMIZATION OF DURGA SHAKTI NAGPAL: NOT EVEN A CONSOLIDATED VOICE AGAINST THE INJUSTICE BY THE IAS LOBBY!

The war cry that should have been heard by now – loud and clear!

Though it is true the thousands and thousands of IAS and IPS officers are spread across the length and breadth of India and so lack a coherent structure of unity but it is equally true that they come from a same source and are trained in same schools and such issues should be clarion call to raise the voice for the cause.

Feeling for the fraternity, camaraderie or simply the professional lineage to belong to place!

But! Alas!

The honest IAS and IPS officers and whistleblowers are either victimized or killed and the bureaucracy and the polity play silly politics on how to protect the ‘honest’ breed.

How deep is the rot is evident from this incident where a young IAS (Indian Administrative Services) officer Durga Shakti Nagpal was allegedly, wrongfully shunted and suspended on behest of the sand-mining mafia of the notorious criminal belt of western Uttar Pradesh (including a politician from the ruling party in Uttar Pradesh)?

But no one from these two stakeholders (bureaucracy + polity) looks in mood to protect the remaining vestiges of honesty in bureaucracy. (There is no need to write on honesty in Indian politics. It was killed long ago.)

In fact, the lobby of IAS and IPS (Indian Police Services) officers is so strong that if it decides to raise an issue, politicians would have to think hundred times before taking an obstinate posture like Akhilesh Yadav and his party have taken in Durga Shakti’s case.

It is rightly said that bureaucrats run (and so manipulate) the system and so the country. Instead, their stronghold on the system is increasing with increasing criminalization of Indian politics where more and more half-baked and quality-illiterate politicians are easily finding chairs in the highest seats of policymaking.

But expecting a war cry (and indeed, by now, the nation should have heard the war cry by the lobby of bureaucrats) on victimization of an honest IAS officer from the fellow bureaucrats is like expecting from the Bhupinder Singh Hooda’s Haryana government that it would reopen the dubious land-deal cases of Robert Vadra.

How can we expect this from the class of bureaucrats who, no matter how poor they were born, die filthy rich; who amass millions and millions of disproportionate wealth; who rush to touch feet of politicians to be in their good book; who brazenly allow and cover-up the wrongs of the political goons; who seldom visit the hinterlands but frame policies deciding fate of millions cursed to live in those parts; who plot to siphon-off the public money by being complicit in the chronic political corruption eroding whatever little left in the name of the democratic weaving of the country.

Don’t expect that some miracle is going to happen. Some senior, obedient and ‘reverent’ bureaucrat of Uttar Pradesh would advise the state government to exploit the system to put the brave lady in the dock. It can be safely said politicians of Uttar Pradesh do not have that much of intellectual capital to implicate her falsely until they get advice from some seasoned bureaucrat.

And while writing this, the reports say the lady IAS officer has been served the chargesheet by the state government.

Indian bureaucracy is infamous across the world and is seen as among the worst performing bureaucracies. A study last year by the Hong Kong based Political & Economic Risk Consultancy Limited rated Indian bureaucracy as the worst in Asia. Corruption figured as a major factor responsible for its inefficiency.

Findings of yet another study done jointly by the Department of Economics and Business, Aarhus University and the Department of Economics, Iowa State University, say ‘Indian bureaucracy attracts more corrupt people than the private sector’.

It is no surprise then that we haven’t yet heard even a consolidated voice from the bureaucrats on this injustice being done to one of their colleagues, a young, brave and honest IAS officer.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/