[Twenty six ways in which Indian babus are making a mockery of governance, ethics and public service]
For months, the media in Delhi screamed hoarse that the planned ‘BRT corridor’ scheme dreamt up by a few babus of the transport department is a disaster. The bureaucrats blithely went about imposing this nightmare on citizens of Delhi with traffic jams becoming the norm. Now the babus arrogantly blame citizens of Delhi for choosing cars over murderous buses for commuting to office! A babu without arrogance would be like a dodo... Extinct
Like all bullies, the babu rides roughshod over those below him and fawns obsequiously on his masters. You only have to watch the rude and callous manner in which a bureaucrat behaves with a citizen who has gone to his office for some work. And then compare his behaviour in front of a politician in power. The ‘public servant’ is actually the ‘master’ of the public and the ‘servant of the ‘master’ – usually a minister, and sometimes a mafia don!
This is synonymous with Indian babudom. Whether you are the aam aadmi or a billionaire, your file won’t move an inch unless cash changes hands under the table. In the 1980s, the Octroi department in then Bombay went on a strike & army officials manned the check posts. The strike was withdrawn after the media reported that Octroi collections had gone up by more than 500%.
Delay & denial
Perhaps except the Konkan Railway and the Delhi Metro, no project ever undertaken by an Indian babu ever finishes on time. There are some irrigation projects that are in the process of completion for the last 30 years! Delays are always deliberate because they throw open more opportunities for ‘money on the side’. And of course, whenever the media or the judiciary highlights the delay, the Pavlovian reflex of the Indian bureaucrat is to deny, and then deny some more.
Enquiry & extension
If corruption and sordid acts are the dirt, the omnipresent ‘Enquiry Committee’ is the proverbial carpet under which the dirt has been carefully hidden. The principal purpose of the Enquiry committee is to delay, and then deny in the hope that the media and the public will eventually forget about the case. In English, enquiry rhymes with another interesting word called bury!Bureaucrats never ever retire; they just keep getting those ‘extensions’!
That one word can neatly sum up the history of the Indian bureaucracy after independence in 1947. Worse, babus find it difficult to digest the fact that entrepreneurs can usually do a better job. So you will see bureaucrats banning ‘private’ bus operators and forcing citizens to take state run buses that don’t run. So you will see envious bureaucrats ‘de-recognising’ or not recognising world class centres of higher education. Perhaps their biggest failure till date has been their total inability to kill the great Indian spirit!