Arvind Kejriwal may be lauded for introducing the odd-even scheme in Delhi. But what about damning the IAS officers?

The year began with a bang. Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal decided to open up with me in an hour long interview on the very first day of the year. It was the day when Delhi was experiencing an experiment. An experiment with the intention of reducing the number of cars on roads. Noble intentions for sure, But a method which was bound to cause inconvenience to dilli waalahs. But in course of the interview, it wasn’t the odd even numbered cars being allowed on odd even number days that caught my attention! What really struck me was the sheer bizarreness of his idea of completely doing away with the bureaucracy. Or at least that was my initial thought

For far too long, India and Indian states have been ruled by what’s loosely described as Babudom. Those suit and tie bureaucrats, from the brightest educational institutions in the country, moving around purposefully in red beacon cars across the corridors of powers in India. Whether you are in Patna or lucknow, Delhi or Hyderabad, you will always have to go through the bureaucracy for anything you may want to do. Now Arvind Kejriwal is proposing, babus be damned. He is seeking a dispensation where sector specific experts be given the task of managing ministries. So lets say, a top doctor will be asked to work as health secretary, a top internal security expert may be asked to work as home secretary! The question is where will these experts come from? Would an individual say drawing an annual package of a 50 lac rupees, give all that up to come and sit in Delhi Sect? Nationalism is all very well, but where will the money come from honey? It’s this financial aspect that requires a bit of close monitoring.

Lets be clear, Mr Kejriwal has had a long-standing battle with the bureaucracy. It started almost as soon as he became chief minister, when he accused an IAS officer, Ms Chamlin of being a corporate stooge. Now as officers of Daman and Diu cadre went on a days mass casual leave on the last day of 2015, the issue snowballed. Mr Kejriwal’s minister Satyendra Jain says officers can be on leave forever. While Kejriwal’s earlier assertion of looking for sector specific experts is a point well taken, But I can’t agree with this my way or the high way approach.

For a government to succeed, you do need the support of bureaucrats. To get the support of your subordinates, you need to work with the system, not against the system. Afterall, aren’t Nitish Kumar and Mamataa Banerjee, chief ministers of much bigger states with larger lok sabha tallies , bigger threats to Mr Modi? Why does Mr Kejriwal come across as an individual who is trying to score political points by constantly creating battle points. The harsh truth is that mainstream politics is always about give and take. So far, Mr Kejriwal hasn’t worked out the give and take angle as he has adopted a puritanical approach to politics. How far he can go with this approach, it will be interesting to observe. 

Tags: Arvind Kejriwal, AAP, IAS