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Social and political Values and Systems in India.

Political value-system of 1990’s in India

The political complexion of the nation underwent a revolutionary change after the fall of Rajiv Gandhi’s Government and then disappearance of Nehru-Gandhi family from the political scene.

An era of instability started. Mr. VN Narayan described about the climate of 1990’s as, “We have a political problem (scams and scandals), but we have no political solution, we have a religious problem (Ayodhya), but no religious solution. There is an economic problem (poverty), but there is no economic solution (Liberalization). There is a social problem (Sectarian conflicts), but there is no societal remedy (Secularism and Mandalisation). There is a socio-medical disease (cancer of corruption), but there is no socio-medical cure (ministerial resignations and reshuffles). There is only one solution to all problems – a human and spiritual solution. We have to consciously move toward humanizing our social institutions and spiritualize (not communalize or secularize) ourselves.”

The last time a general election in India producing a clear parliamentary majority was in 1984. Since 1989, the Governments were acutely handicapped by their minority status. It led first to politicization of criminals, then to criminalization of politics, which adversely effected the daily life of a common man in many ways and made it increasingly difficult for decent, peace loving people to breath freely.

During this period, the country faced many explosive problems, which made the nation weak. Instead of plugging the loopholes in the system, those in authority, gave importance to electoral gains and losses and to attain political power at any cost, so that they could lead a luxurious life at the cost of public money.

In the absence of any sound ideology and clear vision, the politicians of 1990s depended ideologically on “Caste”, “Community”, and “Political secularism” considerations. They pursued sectoral interests. Use of power of money and muscle had increased to widen their electoral base.

This period witnessed complete polarization of society on caste and communal basis. Inter-caste and intra-caste, inter-community and intra-community and inter-tribal and intra-tribal conflicts gradually increased. The politics of Mandal had divided the society on a permanent basis, which suited the sectional parties well especially in the provinces.

The result – hung Lok Sabha and Assemblies, loss of parliamentary culture and decorum, increasing fall in the standards, ability, values and conduct of legislatures, as was seen by poor quality of debates and scanty attendance in the houses of legislature, unruly behavior of members, scenes of pandemonium, all round erosion in the role of legislatures and bad image of legislator due to criminal records, corruption, manipulation, sale and purchase (horse trading) of legislators to increase their number in legislature etc.

 The Governments were formed, not on the basis of popular mandate, but through post election manipulations, unholy alliances, bargaining, horse-trading and give and take principle. Voters turnout in general elections hardly reached 50% of the total population. It was difficult for any single party to get clear majority. For a majority party in Parliament, it was difficult to get 25-26% voters support. A minority party getting a few seats could form a national Government, with majority party supporting it from out side.

Hung Parliament and hung assemblies gave immense power to even marginal regional parties with handful of independent MPs and MLAs to dictate their terms and conditions to national issues and pursue their sectional plans.

The developments of 1990s threw challenges before the nation to run a viable, assured and stable Government to check casteism and communalism, to tackle separatist movement tactfully, keeping the unity and Integrity of the nation intact and to decentralize excessive concentration of authority at center.


June 24, 2009 Posted by | Social and political values and systems | | Leave a comment

Demoralized Bureaucracy of 1980’s in India


During post emergency period, compromises, delays in decision making and shielding unjust acts of political masters by subverting rule of law, flourished in full. Transfers, posting, accelerated promotions to trusted bureaucrats, suspension or denial of promotions to the rest had bent the civil service to a great extent during this period. 

After the emergency of 1975, for the first time Government officials were made to depose before the Shah Commission for their alleged commissions and omissions during the emergency. The blames for failure of system were put on the bureaucracy. It demoralized the bureaucracy to a great extent.

In post emergency period, with every change in the Government, there started the practice of shuffling the bureaucrats. Morarji replaced many officers at senior level with a different set of bureaucrats. Again after the collapse of Janata Government, Mrs. Gandhi brought back her trusted officers to important positions. It bred an unhealthy trend of bureaucrat politicians nexus. 

While coping with the changes of 1970’s, there erupted a new problem of law and order during 1980’s. Terrorism raised its head. The escalated communal problems and economic developments gave rise to economic crimes. BOFORS became a big issue. In his book BOFORS- The Ambassador Evidence (1997), BM Oza tells about 50 million $ Bofors corruption scandal of 1986 – One of the leading features of the BOFORS bribery scandal was the deep involvement of a core group of civil servants in the crisis management and cover up operations undertaken, quite unsuccessfully by Rajiv Gandhi dispensation over our extended period. Drawn from the Indian Administrative service and Indian Foreign Service, as well as from the investigative agencies, all supposed to abide by, if not enforce, the law. These officers took instructions from Rajiv Gandhi, or from those, who spoke for him, to the profound detriment of public duty and clean values in official and public life.

Apart from being accomplices in politician’s corrupt practices, there was a rise in inter-service rivalries during 1970s and 1980s. Dissatisfaction grew amongst bright technical, scientific and professional personnel in bureaucracy due to Governments failure to give them due place in the system, in view of rapid industrialization and technical progress of the country. A large number of youth trained in specialized disciplines joined IAS in the hope of smoother career prospects, fatter salaries and better access to highest level posts. It has been seen that candidates with professional background do much better in entrance examinations than candidates with humanities background. It was because the cream of students qualify the tough tests for entering into professional courses and it trains them well to be hard working, target oriented in their approach and disciplined.

In 1979, Kothari Commission opened up the Vista for youths of diverse background by reducing the marks for interview from nearly one third of the total marks to one tenth. It also made English a compulsory paper of matriculation level, allowed Hindi and other languages as medium to answer questions and raised the age limit from 24 to 26. It was hoped that people coming from widely varied background carrying with them diverse experiences would be better placed to appreciate the ground realties of the nation. The wider, the spread of recruitment net, the larger would be the talent base and richer would be the service. The rapid growth in education, liberal grant of scholarship and stipends, general improvement in the social standard and cultural values of rural people, rural development, economic and other concessions to weaker sections brought a gradual shift in the recruitment base from diverse background.

However, it belied the hope and made the service more vulnerable to political pressures and other extraneous influences. There was a fall in officer like qualities, which made the service object of reducible and contempt in the eyes of public. Mr. Tyagi said, “The old zeal and stamina for strenuous work is now missing. Similarly moral considerations play a less conspicuous role in the official life of a civil servant today than formerly. As the country is moving forward in the direction of industrialization, the values and the old moral standards of its civil servants are tending to diminish. The civil service is less disciplined and less united today than it was formerly. The adverse effect on the quality, work-culture and ethos of the service was not felt much earlier as in 1990’s. Group-ism in the service became evident and harmed the integrity of the service.

The more the influence and power of politicians grew, more the civil services became weaker and unable to give free and frank advice to their political masters.


June 24, 2009 Posted by | Bureaucracy/Civil Services | | Leave a comment

Bureacracy in India after independence (Nehru-Patel Era, from 1947-1965)


During Nehru-Patel era, from 1945 to 1965, the performance of bureaucracy was at the best. It represented one of the finest civil services in the world. The leaders of vision and ideologies realized the shortcomings of the service and tried to remedy it with trust and patience. During the interim period, some leaders like Nehru intended to remodel it on a new basis to fit in with the new system. But, at that time, circumstances were such that there was no alternative, but to leave the things to time. Once, it was decided to continue with the system, the political leadership drew best out of the depleted administrative machinery and inspired it with proper correctives.

There was a perfect tuning between the leadership and administration. It was the tact and fairness of Nehru, Patel, Shastri and other leaders like them and the coordination by officers like HM Patel, VP Menon, BN Rau, LK Jha, TN Chaturvedi, KB Lal and many others like them, which solved innumerable pressing problems that came our way at the dawn of independence. The officers also possessed, partly by heredity, partly by upbringing and partly by education, the knowledge of the principles of governance and character essential for the fair administration of the country. Their vigilance, integrity and honesty saved the administration from falling victim to wrong practices.

Political interference, in matters of day to day administration; was not much. The administrators were encouraged to give their free and frank opinion. They were free to work out details and implement their decisions. Only when something was found going wrong or implementation got unduly delayed, the political leadership interfered in administrative matters. The political and administrative wings of the Government together put the nation on the path of progress, accommodating diverse viewpoints and interests without bias.

The officials tried to live up to the high standards set down by British officials. They were hardworking, fair and prompt in taking timely decisions. The position of law and order was intact and people were living peacefully. They built the infrastructure for a new modern India and for its all round development. Even a small hint about any officer being corrupt, the whole official circle boycotted and ostracized him. The Industrial Policy Resolution of 1956 laid stress on the development of heavy industries with public sector given an important role to play in the development of economy.

In the early 1960s, besides executive functions, normal development work, basic planning and advent of five-year Plans exposed the administration to economic aspects of development. For the first time, officials were interacting with the economic functions. This structural change started putting the service under stress and changed its value system later on. The traders, industrialists and businessman expected favors for backing the politicians financially during elections, who in turn demanded compromise from the bureaucracy.

It was not, that everything was all right during this period. The administrators of this period were criticized for their ivory tower life style and alienation from common man. Pt. Nehru admitted, I failed to change this administration, It is still colonial administration.” Though ivory tower life style prevented them from succumbing to outside pressures and helped them to remain upright and impartial, while on work, ignorance about the pulse of public started making them weaker day by day.

In 1962 Santhanam Committee observed that in the governance of the state, all the leaders could not set a standard of integrity that might justify the popular expectations. Even the leaders like Patel and Nehru could not root out totally the proliferating corruption in political and administrative set up. However, A good percentage of our public servants maintain and function in accordance with strict standard of integrity.i

On the whole, during this period, inner restraint and control had effectively led the officials to preserve the honor and fair name of the services and saved it from getting corrupt or spoiled by outside powerful agencies. The sincere efforts, organizing capacity and drive of administration put India at the tenth rank amongst the nations of the world in terms of industrial out-put by 1960.


i Santhanam Committee Report, pp12-13.

June 24, 2009 Posted by | Bureaucracy/Civil Services | | 4 Comments


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