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
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.