Latasinha’s Weblog

Just another WordPress.com weblog

Kaka Kalelkar on assessing of backwardness on caste-basis

Introduction – There was a time when people thought it a stigma to be called Backward.  Numerous caste groups clamored for higher caste status in Census operations of 1901, 1911, and 1921 and supported their claims with different factors. But now in 21st century casteism in politics and its use as a tool of social engineering has reversed the trend.   Different groups are vyeing with each other to be included, preferably in SC/ST list, failing in OBCs list. Caste-politics through protectionist/preferential policies have created a vested interest in remaining or pretending to be backward.  It has glamorized ‘backwardness’.

In accordance with the provision in Article 340, the first Backward Commission, with Kaka Kalelkar as its Chairman, was appointed in Jan 1953 by the Government of India, to recommend measures for the advancement of backward sections of Indian society.  It submitted its Report in March 1955.  The decision to de-emphasize caste in 1951 Census led the Commission to face paucity of data (caste-wise) on literacy, income, occupation of various communities.[i] The Commission depended mostly on the existing lists of states based on castes and communities as units and   the list of Ministry of Education while prescribing following four criteria to identify Backward Castes/communities –

  • Low social position in traditional caste hierarchy.
  • Illiteracy among the majority of a caste
  • Inadequate or lack of representation in Government service, and
  • Inadequate representation in trade commerce and industry.

Wayback in 1955, eight years after the Independence and five years after the constitution of India came into effect on 26 January 1950, the Commission had suggested –

  •  Education for all.
  • As an Economic and industrial measure, reorganizing Village economy like development of livestock, minimum wages, development of rural and cottage industries, hand-loom industry, village oil industry, coir industry.  Village handicrafts etc.
  • Improving communication system.
  • Stress on public health and rural water supply.
  • Taking care of rural housing.
  • Awareness to fight social evils and superstitions.

Had the successive governments focussed their attention on these suggestions instead of focussing their attention on abstract issues like linking caste as the basis of backwardness, social justice, empowerment of weaker sections through caste-based quota system, secularism etc, India would have been a developed nation by now. It is now that The present Modi Government has drawn the attention of the government and the people towards the schemes like of ‘Skill India’  and ‘Start-up India’ etc. depends how sincerely and honestly these ideas are implemented at ground level.

In the last minute, the chairman himself (Three of its members had already opposed linking caste as the basis of backwardness) repudiated its acceptance of caste as basis of backwardness and his recommendations for Reservations in public service. In his note of dissent Mr. Kalelkar noted-

  • It would have been better, if we would determine the criteria of backwardness on principles other than caste. [iii] According to him, caste test was repugnant to democracy and the objective “To create a casteless and classless society by perpetuating and encouraging caste divisions.[iv]
  •  It is not enough to prove that one community is regarded inferior by another.  The Christians may look down the Jews and the Jews may retaliate with the same feelings.  The Brahmins may regard Banias as inferior and the Bania, in his turn, may regard the Brahmin as a mere social dependent.  Such opinions and prejudices do not come in the way of the full growth of the backward communities either educationally or economically; if backward communities have neglected education, it is because they had no use for it.   Now they have discovered their mistake. It is for them to make necessary efforts for their prosperity.  They will naturally receive whatever help is available to all citizens. [xi]
  • Backwardness could be tackled on a basis or a number of bases other than that of caste.  Once we eschew the principle of caste, it will be possible to help the extremely poor and deserving from all communities… This would also enable us to remove the bitterness, which the extremely poor and helpless amongst the upper class Hindus feel that they are being victimized for no fault of their own.[v]
  • The special concession and privileges accorded to Hindu Castes acted as a bait and bribe inciting Muslim and Christian Society to revert to caste and caste prejudices and the healthy social reforms effect by Islam and Christianity were being thus rendered null and void. [ix]
  • We are not blind to the good intentions and wisdom of our ancestors, who built the caste structure.  It was perhaps the only way, through which they could teach the nation to forget and rise above racial clanship, tribal and similar biological groupings of society and to accept a workable arrangement of social existence based on cultural hierarchy and occupational self-government. [vi]
  • It would be well, if representatives of the Backward classes remembered that whatever good they find in the Constitution and the liberal policy of the Government, is the result of the awakened conscience of the upper classes themselves. Whatever Government is doing by way of atonement is readily accepted and acclaimed by the nation as a whole.  The upper classes have contributed their share in formulating the policies of the Government Removal of untouchability, establishment of equality and social justice, special consideration for backward classes, all these elements found place in the Constitution without a single voice of dissent from the upper classes. [ii]
  • Communalism and casteism are bound to destroy the unity of the nation and narrow down the aspiration of our people[vii]
  • “National solidarity in a democratic set up demands Government to recognize only two ends – the individual at one end and the nation as a whole at the other.  Nothing should be encouraged to organize itself in between these two ends to the detriment of the freedom of the individual and solidarity of the nation.  All communal and denominational organizations and groupings of lesser and narrower units have to be watched carefully, so that they do not jeopardize the national solidarity and do not weaken the efforts of the nation to serve the various elements in the body politic with equity.  Mutual help, mutual respect and mutual trust are the touchstone, on which all communal and denominational activities will be tested and anything that undermines it, will be expected and brought to book.[viii]
  • It is only, when a community or a group is proved to be working under a special handicap and is not allowed to freely function as a citizen, that the state may intervene and make a special provision for the advancement of such under privileged and handicapped communities or persons… A general formula for helping all persons to whatever caste or community, they may belong, should be made. [x]
  • n his letter forwarding the report, Kalelkar remarked I am definitely against Reservation in Government services for any community for the simple reason, that services are not meant for the servants, but they are meant for the service of society as a whole.

Mr. Kalelkar concluded that giving an additional weapon in weak hands is no remedy. The remedy of empowering the weaker section is worse than the evil, they were out to combat. I

GB Pant, Minister of Home Affairs, while presenting the Report in Parliament.    had commented “If the entire community, barring a few exceptions, has thus to be treated as backwards, the really needy would be swamped by the multitude. They would hardly receive any special attention or adequate attention. Nor would such dispensation fulfill the condition laid down in Article 340 of the Constitution, [xii]

It is quite unfortunate that even 71 years of self-rule, almost all political parties in India and their leaders use the ladder of caste to propagate their ideas and influence the opinion of poor illiterate masses in their favour just to create vote-banks for themselves.  Why are they not able to see the ill-effects of politicization of castes. The post – Mandal era is witnessing the hysteria over job Reservation and other such protectionist policies. Other sections of society are demanding Reservation with insistence.

Inter and Intra-Caste rivalries have been increasing continuously. Every caste is a conglomeration of sub-castes and sub-sub-castes. For political actions, they come together, bearing the same caste tag. But they do not forget their separate identities.   The unity of backward castes under the label of Dalits is an illusion created by vested interests. Neither the term Schedule caste”, nor OBC nor Dalit makes them a homogenous class. In-fights between these categories and created social disorder, making the task of governance difficult.

In the opinion of MSS Pandian, an academic with Madras Institute of Development Studies, the current inter caste rivalries are part of a series of periodic revolt, whose prime object is self assertion.[ Sunday, pp. 12-13, and 8-14, June, 1997]

 

[i]  71 First Backward Class Commission, 1955, P 17.

[ii]         BCCI, para III.

[iii]        BCCI, para XIV.

[iv]        BCCI, para XIV.

[v]         BCCI para VI.

[vi]        BCCI para IV.

[vii]        BCCI, para 59.

[viii]       BCC I, para IV.

[ix]        BCCI, para IV.

[x]         BCC I, para VIII.

[xi]        BCCI, para  VII & VIII.

[xii]        Report of the Ministry of Home Affairs, 1956, p4.

Advertisements

August 7, 2018 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Need of more All India Service

In every country, there are certain posts in its administrative set up which might be called strategic from the point of view of maintaining the standard of administration. In a large country like India, where perplexing diversities in geography, language, race and culture have existed through the ages and pervaded every aspect of life, it is necessary to evolve some systems and standards, whereby the interest of the nation as a whole can be taken care of. Keeping it in mind, the British Government in India had evolved the system of All India Services.

India has been fortunate enough to inherit from the past a system of administration, which is common to whole of the nation and it knows what are these strategic posts. All India Services provide manpower to these strategic posts throughout India.

The shift from traditional to Developmental tasks after the Independence and now Globalization and liberalisation, demand that apart from control functions, there should be more All India Services in developmental sector also at par with IAS in other disciplines as well – be it economic, educational, legal, industrial, technical, scientific or agriculture.

Even on the eve of the Government of India Act 1919, the following services were in existence –

  • Indian Civil Service;

  • Indian Police Service;

  • Indian Forest Service;

  • Indian Education Service;

  • Indian Medical Service;

  • Indian Civil Veterinary Service

  • Indian Forest Engineering Service

  • Indian Agricultural Service; and

  • Indian Service of Engineers.

As the national movement gained momentum, of all the nine All India service, only IAS and IP remained unaffected and continued to act as an unifying force. All the technical services were either abolished or provincialized by the time India got Independence. Even though independent India was committed to rapid socio-economic development, the services engaged in control functions – IAS and IP – were allowed to continue. B.B. Misra says, “Most of the other services were abolished. Considerations of national unity, the positive need of India’s all-round development and the attainment of a minimum uniform standard in administration were allowed to go by default.”

After Independence, some leaders as well as some states like Punjab, West Bengal, J&K etc., became critical of All India Services. Pt. Nehru the first Prime minister of Independent India also wished that the ICS and the similar services must disappear completely.

But Sardar Patel, while presiding the Premiers Conference in 1946, advised that it was not only advisable, but essential to have the institution of All India Service for efficient service and for introducing certain amount of freshness and vigour in the administration of both at the centre and in the provinces.. “This will give experience to the personnel at the Centre leading to efficiency and administrative experience of the district, which will give them an opportunity of contact with the people. They will thus keep themselves in touch with the situations in the country and their practical experience will be most useful to them. Besides, their coming to Centre will give them a different experience and wider outlook, in a larger sphere. A combination of these two experiences will make the services more efficient. They will also serve as a liaison between the provinces and the government.

Again, speaking in the Constituent Assembly, Sardar Patel said “There was no alternative to this administrative system….The Union will go, you will not have a united India, if you have not a good All India Service, which has the independence to speak out its mind, which has a sense of security …. If you do not adopt this course, then do not follow the present Constitution…. This constitution is meant to be worked by a ring of service, which will keep the country intact. There are many impediments in this Constitution, which will hamper us. ….. These people are the instruments. Remove them and I see nothing but a picture of chaos all round the country.”

As the result of Sardar Patel’s endeavours, the Constitution of India provided, “Without depriving the states of their right to form their own civil services, there shall be All India Services recruited on All India basis with common qualifications, with uniform scale of pay and members of which alone could be appointed those strategic posts throughout the Union.” All India Services are to be governed by Article 312 of the Indian Constitution. Also Indian Administrative service (IAS) and Indian Police Service(IPS) got incorporated in Article 312(2) of the Constitution.

During early 60’s, a need was felt to create more all India service, so that apart from control functions, best talents could be provided on strategic posts in the areas of development/specialised functions as well at various levels from district to state to central government. Talented persons with specific knowledge, skills, attitude and techniques were needed to perform developmental tasks in an efficient way, to co-ordinate and settle differences between different provinces and to meet different kinds of challenges of new economy and current socio-political developments.

In accordance with the Constitutional provision for creation of more All India Services, Rajya Sabha adopted a Resolution, on 6.12.1961, for the creation of All India Service of Engineers, Indian Forest Service and Indian Medical and Health Service, and later on for Indian Legal Service and Indian Education Services. Out of it, only Indian Forest Service could be formed. For other services, state Governments of Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Karnataka, Punjab, West Bengal, Jammu & Kashmir, Assam and Himachal Pradesh revised their stand mainly on the ground of State Autonomy. Indian Service of Engineers, Indian Medical Service, Indian Legal Service and Indian Education Services are still waiting to come into existence in the near future.

The vision of Sardar Patel in continuing the Institution of All India Services proved to be a step in right direction even after so many years of Independence. In 1967, Setalvad Team on Center-State relation had commented: “The Indian scene has changed in many ways since then. But in this respect, the change that occurred over the years serves on to confirm all that Sardar Patel said with prophetic insight many years ago. It should be needless to affirm the continued validity of all the objectives underlying the All India Services and yet in a country in which the constituent parts are possessed with preemptive desire to assert their separations, such an affirmation is solely needed. The value of a system considered necessary for the administrative unity of the country despite the ubiquity of Congress party rule and found indispensable for securing fair play and competence in administration despite the acute awareness of their need in the most potent political figures at a time, when their power was untrammeled and their right ran through the length and breadth of the land, can in the less favorable conditions of today be ignored only on pair of perilous consequences. Continuity also demands a system which can maintain links in administrative behavior throughout the country, while political changes visit different states and the Center”.

The Patel Study Team of the ARC also acknowledged, “Not only do the original Considerations for which the IAS was set up in the beginning hold good even today, but they apply with every greater force in some respects. There are some additional reasons like the emergence of a new tier of representative government, which make it necessary that a service structure like the IAS should continue for the foreseeable future.”

July 3, 2018 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Government Services and Upper age limit at its entry level

         “When democracy becomes corrupt, the best gravitates to the bottom, the worst to the top.”

Henery George

There was a news in “Times of India” on page 1, dated  27. 10.09 that “Why do Other Backward Castes get seven chances, SC (Supreme Court) asks UPSC (Union Public Service Commission)”. The time has come when the question needs to be answered honestly why? Not only in regard to OBCs, but also SCs and STs. A general candidate gets only four chances.

The reasons for age-relaxation and other concessions in 1947 ,-(Situation at the time of Independence) – When India got independence in 1947, exploitative rule previous rulers had already drained much of India’s wealth.

Condition Before Independence – Earlier Turks, Afghans and Mughals continuously invaded India and drained out the wealth of the nation to foreign lands. Afterward, when they made India their homeland, due to their intolerance towards Hindu subjects and imposition of Zeziya on Hindus, there was continuous pressure on the masses.

Later on, the new land revenue system had led to the rise of a new class of landlords, who wholeheartedly supported the British rule. Policy of Permanent Settlement led to the growth of absentee landlords living in luxury in towns and fleecing the tenants at will. The British policy of land revenue extracted as exorbitant amounts as possible from the peasants, which compelled the cultivators to live at the mercy of landlords, for the fear of eviction.

The poor farmers were caught into the clutches of moneylenders. The impoverishment of cultivators grew due to rack-renting, high rates of interest and uneconomic cultivation, resulting in large-scale alienation of land. Marginal farmers became landless laborers. The vast majority of people belonging to peasants, artisans sunk in poverty and misery. The exploitative policies of British overcrowded the agricultural sector.

British rulers discouraged local genius, cottage industries and fine arts. It made many traditional occupations obsolete. Their apathy towards indigenous skills, knowledge and occupations pushed millions backward in a very subtle manner. Many groups of rural artisans, craftsman and traditional occupations abandoned their traditional work. They either migrated to cities as industrial labor or became agriculture labor.  Inequality between various sections of society increased. The most vulnerable position was of lower strata of society; tribal and the women at the time of independence.

Condition at the time of Independence – When India got independence in 1947, the exploitative British rule had already drained much of India’s wealth, left it divided and bleeding from the partition of the country, which made millions of Indians impoverished and homeless. Majority of Indian people living in rural, urban and tribal areas were living in abject poverty. There existed a noticeable inequality between various sections of society. The most vulnerable position was of lower strata of society; tribal and the women at the time of independence. Millions of people in rural, urban and tribal areas were living in abject poverty.

The sight of their plight, life-styles and agonies were enough to make one’s hair stand on end. For them, even one full meal was a rare luxury. They were under-fed, under-read and under-clothed. They lacked gainful employment and were unable even to fulfil their basic needs of their day to day life. They were not leading a life of human-beings having dignity and self-respect.

Immediately after independence – Immediately after independence, it was felt that underprivileged class badly needed governmental interference to enable them to live with dignity and self-respect and get out of the condition of abject poverty and slave like position, in which they were living so far. Therefore, National leaders favoured not only to continue the practice of reservations along with other some facilities/concessions in government jobs of provinces, to the weaker sections of society, but extended it to the jobs in Government of India’s jobs as well in order to –

  • To remove age-old inequalities (either inherited or artificially created), social and religious disabilities of the deprived people, on account of their social segregation and cultural isolation.
  • To facilitate and promote equal participation of all in the nation building activities.
  • To protect underclass from all forms of social injustice and exploitation.[ii]

Accordingly quotas were fixed in government services through reservation policy. Reservations are regarded as the highest form of special provisions, while preferences, relaxation, concessions and exemptions are the lesser forms. [i] It widened the opportunities for under-represented social groups to get entry into government services and attain positions of power in the governance of the country on equal terms with the advantaged and advanced groups.

Hope belied – The constitution-framers hoped that within 10-20 years, provision of extra facilities would facilitate upward mobility of the submerged sections of the society. They would be empowered enough to join the mainstream of the nation and could directly participate without any crutches in nation-building activities. It would democratize Indian political, social and economic system. The administration would be more sensitive and responsive to the needs of the disadvantaged sections. However, Such measures did not yield desired results. More than 70 years have passed, but none of these expectations could be materialized till now.

Late-entry into educational institutions – Initially, for submerged sections of society, it was a big problem to seek admissions their wards in educational institutions at the same age as usually the youngsters of well-settled families did. There were many reasons for it like abysmal living conditions, shortage of schools/colleges near their homes, earning money more important for them rather than spending their time in schools/colleges etc.  They also took more time to get a graduate degree than general category candidates because of the family background and lack of proper atmosphere. They  found it difficult to compete with general candidates of the same age-group at the same standards; that too in three or four attempts as were given to general category candidates. Therefore, with age relaxation, they were allowed to SC/ST allowed to take as many attempts, to appear in the competitive examination, as they could avail. No restriction on numbers.

Purpose to give concessions – It is said that “Prescription works, when diagnosis is correct.” Initially, the effort to save the downtrodden from inferiority complex and self-pity, to bring them into the mainstream and to remove the age-old inequalities, every thing altogether, compelled the government to give a little push to submerged sections of society. To empower the marginalized sections of society, the authorities of that time gave special concessions/privileges to compete with the stronger, inspire them and make their entry easier and possible into the echelons of power.

Caste-Hindus had accepted it gracefully at that time. They also found it unfair to deny a large number of people a fair share in the echelons of power and in shaping the destiny of the nation.  For the all-round progress of India and for keeping it united, it was thought necessary to tap and utilize the vast reservoir of human resource. India was having, but could not do so far because of unavoidable circumstances.

Who are underprivileged before and after Independence?

Before Independence, Government refrained from calling any group as backward – Till the Communal Award of 1932, the British Government at national level consistently refrained itself to giving backward status officially to any section of Indian Society. It thought it unfair to stigmatize any group by official acknowledgement of their low status. Indian Statutory Commission, 1930 VI, (p 341) said clearly considered it unfair, that Owing to social disabilities, to which members of the depressed classes are exposed, it would be in the highest degree undesirable that any official authorization might appear to extend to such qualification. The fluidity of social distinctions and the efforts of the classes, lowest in the scale, aided by social reformers, to improve their status, make it more desirable, that Government should abstain from doing anything, which would tend to give rigidity to these distinctions.

Criteria to decide Backwardness – However some sections of society had pressurized the government so much that  on July 1934, the government issued an order instructing to schedule a list of people entitled for preferential treatment in matter of education, appointment in Government and special electoral representation. It was difficult to decide whom and by what standard must the people be included in the list of backwards.

Problems in deciding – There was not much problem to decide about who were the untouchables in the South and Central Provinces. But northern and eastern states posed the problem to select groups, which ought to be treated at par with the untouchables of Southern and Western part of India. In Madras, Bombay and Central Provinces, untouchables formed a distinct and separate element of population. All non-Brahmins were included in the list. But in other provinces, especially in the north, untouchability was linked with unclean occupation. Untouchables were very much an integral part of the Hindu order.

According to Census 1931 – Hutton, the Census Commissioner had laid down the following tests to separate untouchables from backward i: –

  • Whether the caste or class is served by Brahmins
  • Whether it was served by barbers, water carriers, tailors etc. who served caste Hindus,
  • Whether it polluted a high caste Hindu by contact or proximity,
  • Whether it was the one from whose hands a caste Hindu cannot take water,
  • Whether it was debarred from using public conveyances,
  • Whether it was debarred from entering into Temples,
  • Even well educated persons of which caste were not treated on equal terms with caste-Hindu in any social intercourse,
  • Whether it was merely depressed on account of its own ignorance, illiteracy or poverty and but for that would be subject to no social disability, and
  • Whether it was depressed on account of the occupation followed and whether but for that occupation, it would be subject to no social disability. (Census of India, 1931 Vol.1, App1, p 472).

Finally, Simon Commission in 1935 first coined the term ‘Scheduled Castes’. The untouchable castes from each British province was scheduled. This was on the basis of 1931 census of then India. This list was then published by Government in 1936 as ‘The Government of India (Scheduled Castes) Order, 1936’.

After Independence, weaker sections of Indian society –  After Independence,  Government of India recognized the following sections of society as weaker sections of Indian society –

  • Scheduled castes,
  • Scheduled tribes,
  • Minorities,
  • Other Backward castes
  • Women

Scheduled Castes – The first list of Government of India was published after India became republic. The schedule of oppressed castes became Scheduled Castes.  Census of 1951 showed that the percentage of castes listed in the Schedule were 15.05% of the total population of India. The Government of India reserved 12.5% seats for SC (already enforce) of the total available vacancies in any one year on caste basis. The percentage of their Reservation was raised to 15% on 25.3.70.

Scheduled tribes – The schedule of Tribes became Schedule Tribe in 1958. “Blessed with nature, celebrated by anthropologists and exploited by modern society, this has been the story of tribal. Partly by habitat and geographical isolation and partly on the basis of their distinctive tribal characteristics, they have remained socially isolated and far away from the mainstream. The failure of government to address the needs of the people living in poverty stricken regions or to build public infrastructure and utilities, especially in education and health-care, has given rise to many rebellion outfits in tribal areas, which have capitalized on these factors to build their zone of influence.

The total population of ST’s was of ST 6.31% according to 1951 census.  Government of India reserved 5% seats for ST of the total available vacancies in government jobs in any one year. The percentage of their Reservation was raised 7.50% respectively on 25.3.70.

Concessions Given to SCT – In order to increase the number of SC/ST in government services, in addition to Reservation of posts, many other benefits have been given to them in direct recruitment. These are: –

  • Age relaxation. The maximum age of direct recruitment for SC/ST increased by 5 years.
  • SC/ST allowed taking as many attempts, to appear in the competitive examination, as they could avail.
  • SCT candidates qualifying by general standard not to be adjusted against quota.
  • SC/ST candidates exempted from payment of examination fees.
  • Separate interviews for SC/ST.
  • Pre-entry coaching classes organized by the Government for them.
  • Relaxation in standard to further improve their representation in the service.
  • If, in any particular year, the number of suitable candidates available is less then the number of reserved posts, the posts, so in excess, are to be treated as unreserved for that particular year. However, in the next year, the number of posts unreserved would be added to the reserved posts of that year. This carrying over process is to operate for a period of two years, at a time.
  • Reservation in Promotions,

Over the years after the independence, many persons, belonging to a few  advanced castes listed in beneficiary’s list of Scheduled castes took advantage of the concessions and schemes envisaged by the government, for the advancement of downtrodden, including fixing up percentage of quota for them in government jobs. They have now come up socially, formed a creamy layer and are directly participating in nation-building activities along with others. They have already joined the mainstream of the nation.

Now all the benefit is being taken away by the creamy layer of the castes listed in beneficiary’s list.They now exercise immense power and influence in politics of the nation.  All the governments, political leaders and political parties, are bound to listen the voice and accept their demands. Reason being that these schemes have benefitted only a few individuals, not all people belonging to the listed SC castes. Most of them people are still in a very shape. Their condition is still very depressing because of their poverty, illiteracy, ignorance, lack awareness, understanding, and vision. They are still unable to take the benefit from the plans and policies envisaged for their better future.

The powerful lobby of these beneficiary/privileged castes does not like economic criteria for giving concessions to all the poor people. They just do not wish to give up their caste-identity as SC/ST/OBC, as even now, it entitles them to avail many special concessions from the government in different areas.

Other Backward Castes – For identifying socially and educationally backward classes, the commission adopted the following criteria:

  • Low social position in the traditional caste hierarchy of Hindu society.
  • Lack of general educational advancement among the major section of a caste or community.
  • Inadequate or no representation in government services.
  • Inadequate representation in the field of trade, commerce and industry

OBCs form the majority. It comprises mostly rural people, who depend mainly on agriculture for their survival. Till 1992, it was left to provincial governments to look into the interests of OBCs. At national level, the first Backward Commission, under Kaka Kalelkar’s Chairmanship, was appointed in Jan 1953 by the Government of India, to identify OBCs and recommend measures for their advancement. It submitted its Report in March 1955. It had identified 2399 communities as backwards comprising about 32% of the total population. In designating OBCs, the government had to depend on the existing lists of the state based on castes and communities as units and the list of Ministry of Education.

OBC’s According to First Backward Class Commission – According to First Backward Class Commission, the castes and communities, which were included in OBC list, were-

  • Communities, which suffered from the stigma of Untouchability.
  • Tribes living far away from the general social order.
  • Groups indulging in crime due to long neglect.
  • Nomads not having social respect.
  • Agricultural and landless laborers.
  • Tenants without occupancy right or with insecure land tenure.
  • Small landowners with uneconomic holdings.
  • Castes engaged in cattle breeding, sheep breeding or fishing or small scale.
  • Artisan and occupational classes without security of employment and sufficient remuneration.
  • Castes not having adequate representation in Government due to lack of education.
  • Socially and educationally backward Muslims, Christians and Sikhs social groupings, occupying low position in social hierarchy.

Second Backward class Commission – In 1977, under Art. 340 of the Constitution, Second Backward Class Commission was appointed under the chairmanship of Mr. Mandal. Its report has completely overlooked Kaka Kalelkar’s remark made in 1955 that “The services are not meant for the servants…. But for the service of the society as a whole” and raised the idea of ‘empowerment’ as the aim of reservation and concessions to backward classes.

Mr. VP Singh on reservation for OBC – Mr. VP Singh, then the Prime minister, asserted, The question of poverty is not financial… The issue does not relate to the treasury, but to the throne and whosoever occupies the throne will also control the treasury. Occupying throne meant to him Bureaucracy, which is an important organ of power structure and it has a decisive role in decision making exercise. We want to effectively give to the depressed, downtrodden and backward their share in power structure and in decision making to run this country and improve things.”( Times of India, dt. September 2, 1990.)

Start of Reservations for OBC – The Central Government issued orders for 27% Reservation for OBC on 13.8.90. This was challenged in the court of law. The judgement was delivered on 16.11.92. Based on the Judgement, revised orders were issued on 8.9.93. Reservation for OBC started at national level from 1994.

Concessions given to OBC – The concessions to OBC’s are less than SC/ST in following respect: –

  • They get relaxation in upper age limit up to 3 years only,
  • Number of attempts available to them, within the relaxed age limit for appearing in competitive examination, are lesser than that of SC/ST.
  • Relaxation in standard of suitability has been prescribed to further improve the representation of OBCs

Women – Women, comprising of 50% of the total population of India represent a vast reservoir of human resource, which still remains untapped and un-utilized. Authorities have paid only lip service to women issues so far.

Discrimination against women – Women have suffered shocking inequalities for centuries and continue to be discriminated against. Most heinous crimes are still done against women irrespective of caste, creed, time or place such as infanticide, feticide, physical abuse, early marriage, illiteracy, unequal rights in marriage, divorce, inheritance, polygamy, inauspicious widowhood with severe disabilities and restrictions, restrictions on widow remarriage or Sati etc.etc. The list is endless. Till very recent past, most on them were illiterate, ignorant and confined them within the four walls of the house for centuries.

Till 1965, married women debarred – On 17th July 1948, the Government of India announced that woman, too, were eligible for any public service including IAS and IFS (Hindustan Times, Milestone, P8, August 15, 1997). As late as 1965, married women were debarred from appearing in the competitive examination or joining IAS. If they got married after the selection, their retention depended on the performance of their work. (All India Service (Recruitment) Rules 1954, introduced vide MHA Notification NO.13/7/56 (AIS) (III dt. 25.4.1957).

Government Services meant for servicing the people – There is a proverb that “It is better to be Socrates dissatisfied than an ignorant satisfied.” Government Services are meant for servicing the people and to run the administration of a country smoothly. A band of ‘permanent, paid and professional/capable government employees in different disciplines of bureaucracy/civil services, well trained, efficient, prompt, just and sympathetic, are required to serve the people in a better way.

Government servants not only dig expert knowledge from the raw material, but give it a shape with a sense of commitment. Due to its exclusive and specialist nature of work, need for more expert knowledge in governance, to improve the delivery system as well as to make quality of life of common-men better, the importance of appointing well-qualified persons at each level of administration increases day-by-day.

Shri C. Rajagopalachari, “For any administration to be good and efficient, as a whole, we want right type of men. The quality of men placed in position is more important than laying-down of rules and methods of operation”

Recruitment in Civil services – For a government responsible for running the administration of the country, it becomes a matter of crucial importance to constantly review and make improvements into the systems, procedures and methods of recruitment to the various government services. A good recruitment system would make it possible for the government to nurture and utilize the best talents in the country for the service the nation and its people.

Age limit At present there is no rationale in enhancing the upper age limit of entering into higher civil services in Government services. So far, the step of relaxing the upper age limit, has neither brought down the numbers of unemployed youth, nor given enough opportunities to submerged sections of society to join the mainstream of society. At present is the age limit for entering into government services are continuously change and raised 40-42 years in certain provinces. It is as following for UPSC exams. –

Issue Upper Age Limits for entering into government jobs – The age -limit for entering into government services keeps on changing from time to time. At present, different government jobs at centre and states have different age limits (maximum) ranging from 24 to 42.

Since beginning the age limit for entering into government services was usually from 21 to 24 years. At present it has been raised upto 32 years +

  • Candidates belonging to a Scheduled Caste or a Scheduled Tribe – up-to a maximum of five years.
  • Candidates belonging to Other Backward Classes –  up-to a maximum of three years.
  • Individual cases of persons belonging to Ex-servicemen, persons domiciled in the State of J & K, blind, deaf-mute and orthopedically handicapped etc.
General 32 Years
OBC 35 Years
SC/ST 37 Years
PWD 42 Years
J & K Domicile GEN=37 Year, OBC= 40 Year, SC/ST=40 Year, PH=50 Year
Disabled servicemen. GEN=37 Year, OBC=40 Year, SC/ST=40 Year.

Concession on Attempts at examination – The general category candidates, appearing at the Civil Services Examination, are permitted only four attempts at the examination (for both Prelim and Mains). An attempt at a Civil Services Preliminary Examination is deemed to be an attempt at the Examination. If a candidate actually appears in any one paper in the Civil Services Preliminary Examination, he / she are deemed to have made an attempt at the Examination. Notwithstanding the disqualification / cancellation of candidature, the fact of appearance of the candidate at the examination is counted as an attempt.

But there is no restriction on the number of attempts for Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe candidates. They can appear every year in examination till they attain the age of 35. The number of attempts permissible to candidates belonging to Other Backward Class is seven. A physically handicapped gets as many attempts as are available to other non-physically handicapped candidates of his or her community, subject to the General Category shall be eligible for seven attempts. The Civil Services relaxation will be available to the physically handicapped candidates who are eligible to avail of reservation applicable to such candidates.

Joba in government services are still the most sought-after one. Every year, over 3-4 lack candidates apply for preliminary tests every year. Its entrance examination is one of the toughest globally. The prolonged examination system has always been more of a rejection than a selection process. With about 50 % reserved quota for SC, ST and OBC, it has become very difficult for general category candidates, even the talented ones, to enter into Higher Civil Services in Government of India. Now talented youth of non-quota category prefer to join either private sector or go abroad in search of a job, where there is still some recognition and appreciation for their talents.

Age relaxation unable in bringing desired results – As far as for reserved category, experience of yester years has shown again and again that age-relaxation and other concessions given to so-called ‘SC’,’ST’ or ‘OBC’ have not yielded the desired results. It has not benefited the the people for whom it was meant. Concessions need to be given only to deserving candidates on rational grounds at right time, in right quantity and quality. The way, these concessions have been bestowed to different sections so far, has given rise to many social, political and economic issues.

It has generated resentment in the hearts of general category candidates for not giving recognition to talent and merit. It has rather led the talents of the nation not to join government services, but to choose other avenues like migrate to advanced nation or join private sector.

There is also a deep resentment  in the hearts of reserved category candidates about promotions/career progression of reserved category candidates at higher levels of the services or for theirs very bleak chances of reaching upto the top. It has dividing the society into many uncompromising groups.

Lack of political will – Continuance of quota- system with relaxation in upper age-limit and other concessions to SC/ST/OBC has given birth to anger in the hearts of general category youth against the authorities, who still favor such discriminatory practices it without any rhyme or reason, not because downtrodden are benefitting or would benefit from them, but because it only serves the vested interests of a few.

Vote bank politics has led Political leaders to treat the ailment of backwardness, born out of illiteracy, ignorance and social oppression through discriminatory policies and practices. They want to entrust power in weak hands without making them strong enough to fulfil their responsibilities judiciously.

Not benefited the people for whom it was meant – It could not benefit the deprived masses much, for whom it was meant.  It has also failed to bring most of them into the mainstream or to improve their status. Still about 48% of Indian population is living below or at poverty line. Poverty and its associated ills like illiteracy, ignorance, sloth; ill-health etc. has adversely affected the lives of millions of Indian people and deprive them from joining the corridors of power. It has always been a big challenge before the government to channelize creatively the energies of the Youth of submerged sections of society.

Addition in the problems of downtrodden – 

Why so many attempts to quota people? – Time and again people do ask why even today age relaxation and seven to nine-ten attempts are being given to the candidates belonging to OBC or SC/ST categories in Competitive Examination conducted by UPSC (Union Public Service Commission) for entering into higher civil (government) services in India. Leave aside the public, even institution like Supreme Court has also asked the government “Why do Other Backward Castes get seven chances, when a general candidate gets only four chances – SC (Supreme Court) asks UPSC (Union Public Service Commission)”, Times of India” on page 1, dated, 27.10.09.

There seems no rationale to give the benefit of age relaxation to SC/ST/OBC now, especially when the age limit has already been extended from 24 years to 30 years for all. Instead of helping these submerged sections of society, it has increased their problems. In fact, age relaxation for SCs, STs and OBCs has generated many social and administrative problems, such as: –

Family burdenAspirant candidates belonging to backward sections of society keep on trying for government jobs, till they attain the age of 40-42. A very few lucky SCT aspirants for various government jobs are able to manage some financial aid from the government or any other institution/sources to meet their expenses for higher education, tuition fee, hostel expenses, getting admission in pre-entrance training centres plus a bit of pocket money.

For the rest, their poor parents meet the entire cost for higher education and other expenses up-till they attain the age of 40-42, while taking all the attempts for success. Not only the expenditure of their own studies falls on the already weak shoulders of their poor, deprived and disadvantaged old parents, but they have to bear full responsibility of raising-up the entire families of young aspirants and taking care of all their basic needs. It is because system of early marriage is prevalent amongst backward communities.. By the time, candidates of reserved category attain the age of 42, their own family with their children is already prepared.

Overcrowding in institutions of higher education – Requirement of graduate degree and to pass time, while preparing for the competitions, most of the youth join Universities and Colleges aimlessly. It has its own adverse affects. It results in over-crowding the Institutions of higher education. There is too much pressure for admissions in the colleges and universities. The academic standards are continuously on decline. Numerous fake institutions are created. It also leads to unbalanced growth in the number of educational institutions, unrest and indiscipline amongst the students and politicization of the temples of learning.

Difficult to train -Late entry into the Service makes the task of training very difficult. When the minds of youth are still at formative stage, entry into a service/profession makes the task to train easy. With the advancement of age, attitude, habits and skills of a fully grown up person hardens and adaptability diminishes. It becomes difficult to unlearn unwanted learning or to change the habits and behaviors in accordance with the future role.

 Waste of Human resourceAge relaxation has also led to the waste of Human resource as well. Every year lacs of youths chase a very limited jobs in government. Amongst them only a minuscule number succeed. The future of a vast majority of youth belonging to submerged sections gets jeopardized. In the hope of getting government jobs year after year, they waste most energetic, impressionable, imaginative and creative prime time of their youth. It appears to be a colossal waste of human resource. The energies of the younger generation could be gainfully utilized through proper career planning. The present system has become a vast machine producing educated unemployment/underemployment/unemployment.

Frustration of youth The failure generates frustration in the minds of youth. At the age of 40-42, after consuming all the attempts, a vast majority of unsuccessful SCT candidates just do not know how to find out new avenues for their future course of action. By that time, it becomes too late for them to find out a job elsewhere or to make a fresh start. It is difficult also for to get an opening elsewhere, for the simple reason that others – general candidates, who are non-beneficiaries of age relaxation advantage – have already occupied the space in other Government posts or in public sector or private sector, five years ago. It makes SCT youth more depressed and helpless.

Frustration of never finding a suitable job, abysmal living conditions and deterioration all round usually result in frustration, which is turn, generates inferiority complex and self-pity, considering themselves incapable of competing by general standards with others. Sometimes their frustration generates anger against others, leading them to violence and agitation. Instead of coming to terms with the situation, they develop an attitude to blame others for their lost opportunities and miseries.

Their anger easily finds illusionary base against an “Imaginary-enemy”, sometimes region-wise, sometimes community-wise and sometimes caste-wise or language-wise. Their anger forces many of them to join aggressive political groups to channel their anger and inchoate feelings.

Time has come, when the government needs to review its policy regarding these concessions and whether such relaxation/concessions have really empowered or improved the overall position of submerged sections of society? Is not the Article 16(4) of the constitution being misused for vote-bank politics and vested interests of politicians, political parties and powerful lobbies/creamy layer of SCs, STs or OBCs groups? Are quota people still justified in asserting their claim for age relaxation, lowering of standards and other concessions for getting easy access in the higher government services and move up into the ladder of their career without hindrance and much effort? Time has come when the answer to these questions should be found out.

Recruitments on administrative posts in Government? – For efficient, effective and good governance of a nation, the basic requirement is to place ‘right persons at right place on right time’.

Catch them young – During British rule and after Independence, any graduate from recognized university can appear in the competitive examination for entering into higher civil services of India. The upper age limit for general category people was 21 to 24 years.

It was believed that the government organizations looked for recruiting personnel at entry level, who were young, and energetic. At middle level and senior level, they appointed well-trained and experienced persons. Government institutions didn’t prefer to appoint persons above 35. It is felt that average age for mid-management should be around 27-30 and for senior management from 30 to 40 years.

Why Young? – The trend for catching people at young age was because it is the most creative, energetic and impressionable years of life. Young people possess fresh knowledge, open to new ideas, bring in radical thoughts, positive and flexible in attitude/approach. They are hard-working, innovative  and prepared to take risks, and capable to face challenges . They are tech-savvy and appreciate soft skills, which is the requirement of present day.

‘Catch them young for various jobs and train them for accordingly’ – For recruitment at entry level in government services, the principle should be ‘Catch them young for various jobs and train them for accordingly’, Young people may not be fully matured, may need guidance and may need to be disciplined.

Deficiencies in educational system – The deteriorating standard of education is incapable to equip much needed dynamism, knowledge and skills to perform their jobs in responsible manner, when they enter into a professional life. The present scheme of education and training has failed in introducing dynamic and responsible people in the governance of the nation. The quality of education is such, that it hardly makes majority of students either intellectually competent or motivated to do constructive work in responsible manner.

Overcrowding in institutions of higher learning – The requirement of a degree for getting white collard jobs has resulted in over crowding the institutions of education and training. The stress on quantitative increase has subverted all the attempts to improve the quality of teaching and learning. It has led to continuous fall in the standard of higher education. The examination and evaluation system tests only a narrow range of skills, especially those of memory and suffers from grave errors, so much and so, that people question the legitimacy of a modern education system itself.

A well-planned system of training is needed to make up for these inadequacies. Many people insist to follow the dictum of “Catch them young and train them well” in their respective areas of work accordingly. At higher level of management in their various disciplines, Government  may appoint well trained experts from other government, private or public institutions and prepare a team of dynamic, responsible and visionary persons having adequate knowledge , Who can guide and monitor the activities of junior/field officers properly.

Recruitment at young age and training system in army – Today, when other democratic institutions have lost public faith, the Defense Services are still keeping up some standard. The candidates passing out from National Defense Academy commands a high esteem in public’s eye, when they start their career as army officers. They have proved that they form the best disciplined cadre of officers – dynamic, sincere, responsible and dedicated to their duties. They do not hesitate to sacrifice their today for making others’ tomorrow safe and peaceful.

Selection of army officers – The selection of army officers is done after higher secondary education on the basis of written examinations and a thorough interview testing aptitude, leadership qualities, general ability and intellectual acumen. After their selection, they get four years of rigorous training – three years in NDA at Kharakwasla, and for one year in IMA at Dehradun in the case of Army, Hyderabad in the case of Air Force and Cochin in the case of Navy.

Training more successful during formative years of life – The training of army personnel is done at the age, when their minds are still in formative stage. The training is so tough and seriously imparted that either trainees come up-to the desired standard or quit it in between, if they were unable to cope with the rigors of the tough training and disciplined way of working. The officers are given further education and initial training under strict supervision of seniors. The three years training in NDA prepares them for performing their duties as armed forces officers well. By the time they pass out, they are well equipped with basic requirements of their jobs.

Similar is the practice in the field of medicine and engineering – Selection immediately after higher secondary and then further education and thorough training in their specific discipline for a period of four years. India has earned a name globally in IT sector. A small band of officers for Indian Railway Service of Mechanical Engineers are well known for their expertise and efficient performance. It is well known that Indian Engineers, especially from IITs and Indian Doctors are in great demand abroad.

Pre-entry training of young minds – Recently Kota in Rajasthan has developed into a coaching hub for IITians. It has produced many toppers and send hundreds to engineering colleges. Now-a-days competition has become so tough that it is never too early for learning. Many coaching institutes in Kota, and elsewhere in Rajasthan Assam and Punjab are planning to start special training programs (Pre-foundation Career Care Program (PCCP) aimed at “better conceptual understanding” for students of Standard VIII. It is meant to develop a “scientific temperament, mathematical aptitude, problem-solving skills, reasoning and competitive psychology” at an early age, no matter whether students pronounce/comprehend these phrases or not.

Suggestion for early recruitment in government services – It is advisable that the cadre of officers engaged in the task of governance should be selected early to equip them with intellectual, moral and physical qualities essential to perform the complex and delicate job of development administration effectively and efficiently. While their minds are still in the formative stage, it is easier for the Government to take a purposeful approach to articulate the required thinking, attitude and knowledge in them.

Job-oriented education and training will imbibe in them intellectual knowledge, qualities, attitudes and skills according to the increasing and diversified needs of the modern administration, such as social purposefulness, public service consciousness, ability to understand administrative, political and economic implications of a problem, resourcefulness in solving them, creativeness, dynamism, up to date knowledge in their particular discipline, capacity for team-work, good fellowship, ability to cooperate, alertness in grasping a situation and quickness in assimilating relevant facts and persuasiveness in presenting their point of view. It will deepen the awareness of professional norms. It will facilitate the Government to have right type of people required for an efficient administration.

Analysis

“Empowerment of weaker sections” – Experiences of more than sixty years show that these concessions for SCT/OBC at national level could not achieve the desired goals. It could not make qualitative change in the pathetic condition of majority of people belonging to weaker sections or could ‘empower’ them so far. Their problems still remain intact. “Empowerment” is only a political slogan as of date. Presence of a few persons of a section in power structure does not change the destiny of its majority. These political campaigns mislead people and betray the cause. Reservation is mirage. It is a benevolent gesture of the authority to tame people. It does not give real benefit to the cause of disadvantaged or help in their emancipation.

Conclusion

Now in the twenty first century, many people do not understand the rationale of reservation policy. Quite often, question arises in their minds – has the age relaxation for SC, ST or OBC in UPSC competitive examination truly helped these communities to empower themselves or upgraded their social and economic status and led to their sustainable development? No doubt, a very small number of persons, like a few drops in the ocean, have been benefitted by it. But what about the vast majority?

If under-representation is criteria, then why not for women

If any homogeneous group in India deserves special concessions in matter of age relaxation, it is that of women. All the arguments about ‘near absence of in power echelons/seriously under-represented in the echelons of power, discrimination, oppression, exploitation due to their inferior social position in the past’, remaining disadvantaged from time immemorial because of sociological reasons or denial of basic human rights by the socio-political authorities stand valid in the case of women irrespective of caste or creed.

Why women need special attention of the government? – The need of special attention or giving some concessions to women in matter of opportunities arises, not because they are intellectually inferior or not fit enough to take up responsible jobs, but because they have sacrificed the most crucial and energetic years of their life in taking care of the future generation and thus, serving the nation by giving to it confident and good citizens. They, as mothers, cultivate in their children positive qualities, which once imbibed, inevitably become part of one’s nature and provide guidelines for their wholesome behavior pattern in future. For such valuable contribution to the society and the nation, if they could not be rewarded, then at least, they should not be punished.

Democracy demands equal opportunity to all

Granting any exclusive concession to any community or section of society on the basis of government’s policy of Reservation or granting special concessions to some is discriminatory by its very nature. It is a very sensitive issue, because for a few persons, it may yield positive results, but for the rest, it is a negative step. Denial of equal opportunity to any individual in any walk of life simply means denying to its citizens basic human rights to grow, govern and give ones best to the nation. As Irving Kristol has said ‘Democracy does not guarantee equality of conditions- it only guarantees equality of opportunity’. Government of a democratic country should always try to ensure for all its citizens equality of opportunity to develop their personality to the fullest regardless of birth, circumstances, gender or race.

Need to Review the policy – The time has come, when the whole scenario should be visualized and analyzed honestly without any bias in the light of present atmosphere. Time has changed. The valid grounds for giving age relaxation and other preferences in matter public employment needs to be reviewed. Can the old arguments of 1947 of near absence of SC/ST/OBC in power echelons or their exploitation still be justified in 2011? Is not the Article 16(4) of the constitution being misused for vested interests of some people? If any section of society deserves age relaxation for the entry into civil services, on the grounds of being disadvantaged from time immemorial, or being busy in a more important job of raising their families and taking care of future citizens to the nation in responsible manner, it is the women only irrespective of caste or creed, not SCs/STs/OBCs.

Way out

Make people capable – To uplift the position of marginalized sections of the society and to include the vast reservoir of human resource, which has still remained untapped and unutilized to a great extent even today, the first step would be to make them capable of holding the power judiciously. It necessitates providing a good and congenial atmosphere for development of their personalities and inculcating in them knowledge, attitude, work-habits and skills through sound education and training..

Inspire the people – The second step would be to inspire submerged sections of society to join the mainstream. It necessitates providing enough job-opportunities and give to them suitable atmosphere to work, which means toning up the system. The traditional values, religious beliefs, socio-economic-political set up and circumstances, which create hurdles on the way of their inclusion in the mainstream, should be removed. The intensity of their adverse affect varies from group to group and from region to region. The task of involving them in developmental tasks/nation building activities needs national determination and political will.

Some other measures needs to be taken to enhance self-esteem and the active participation of SC,ST and OBC along with other sections of society in nation building, like : –

  • First of all, policy makers should accept that liberation means liberation from atrocities.
  • Provide ‘education to all’ in order to inculcate scientific temper and courage to fight against evil social practices. Easy access to Open University and distance education programs could be considered for this purpose,
  • Provide more and more job oriented vocational courses for them,
  • Promote entrepreneurship,
  • Facilitate credit by providing financial assistance,
  • Create awareness to fight social evils and superstitions,
  • Create awareness about the opportunities available to them,
  • As an Economic and industrial measure, reorganizing Village economy like development of livestock, minimum wages, development of rural and cottage industries, handloom industry, village oil industry, coir industry. Village handicrafts etc.
  • Create awareness about the legal infrastructure of the nation, especially the special legal measures to protect them from atrocities and exploitation.

Mr. Kalelkar’s opinion – In his note of dissent Mr. Kalelkar noted- “National solidarity in a democratic set up demands Government to recognize only two ends – the individual at one end and the nation as a whole at the other”…. “Mutual help, mutual respect and mutual trust are the touchstone, on which all communal and denominational activities will be tested and anything that undermines it, will be expected and brought to book.I (BCC I, para IV)

“The special concession and privileges accorded to Hindu Castes acted as a bait and bribe” and inciting other communities.

“It is only, when a community or a group is proved to be working under a special handicap and is not allowed to freely function as a citizen, that the state may intervene and make a special provision for the advancement of such under privileged and handicapped communities or persons… A general formula for helping all persons to whatever caste or community, they may belong, should be made.” ( BCC I, para VIII).

Mr. Kalelkar concluded that giving an additional weapon in weak hands was no remedy. The remedies, the commission suggested were worse than the evil, they were out to combat. In his letter forwarding the report, Kalelkar remarked I am definitely against Reservation in Government services for any community for the simple reason, that services are not meant for the servants, but they are meant for the service of society as a whole.

June 14, 2018 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Past, Present and Future

These days, there are a number of messages in social media teaching the people that past is past, live in present and do not bother for future. However past, present and future are so tightly intertwined with each other that one can not separate it or can live in present only. Any person can neither be cut of from one’s past, nor can be happy without planning rationally for one’s future.

In a very fast changing world , nothing can be more disabling than its idolization of past; nothing can be more needed than the constant interpretation of past experiences and present circumstances. Many opinions, structures, systems and principles have been evolved for the benefit of the society throughout the world for time immemorial, which have created such a wave that sweep over the entire world. They remained in vogue for some time, then faded. An anti-wave emerges, soon it wipes off the previous influence and replaces the previous waves and gives way to new structures, systems and concepts.

Present should be a constant challenge to the opinions of past. Any structure, system, form, attitude, tradition, or outlook, which appears more effective and beneficial in the light of modern times, should be replaced by a better one. But at the same time, it is suicidal to sacrifice an ancient structure, form or an attitude to an increasing passion for change.

A great transformation is under way, not only in India, but every where in the world. A huge socio, economic and political churning is going on the margins of society at all levels -be it individual level, local level, national level or international level. The whole of nineteenth and twentieth centuries, especially after the two World Wars are full of very fast changes going on every here due to technological advancement, especially due  to revolution in the spheres of information technology and mass media.

Time has never run so fast, as it does now in this space age.  Yesterday was not long ago and today is nearly over, with so much still pending to be done. Knowledge, due to revolution in information technology, is increasing much faster than human ability to handle it. There are changes in the strategy, structure and management techniques.  Socio-economic-political atmosphere is also in a stage of flux due to technological advances. These changes are posing a tough challenge before the people all-over the world.  Besides, the global society and national governments have to deal with living human beings, who are full of psychological and sociological complexes.  The rising aspirations and demands of people, with the spread of education and awareness create added problem for the political authorities of any nation. Globalization and international atmosphere, where America has emerged as the only super power since 1990, has posed further challenges before the global society.

The needs and aspirations of the people should be handled for the nation as a whole, not for any specific section of the society. The present day politics has given rise to many sectional forces and pressures groups. Some of these groups put their demands in a peaceful manners, while others are quite vocal and aggressive in attitude. They demand their rights, but ignore their duties. Groupism, violence, terrorism, and criminalisation etc. are some of the direct consequences. The Governments of different States pursue broad objectives and try to solve their respective problems separately on the basis of their specific needs and environment. For achieving the objectives, the cooperation of all the nations is necessary. To get this cooperation, it is equally necessary that they be well informed about the issues, policies, the programs and the activities.  Informed and vigilant leadership is a must for the success.

People, especially of developing and underdeveloped nations have to cover distance of centuries in decades, making the transition from agrarian society to industrial society and then to information society.  Science and technology have made their debut rather quite late there.  Today, the main thrust of the authorities should be on transferring knowledge, expertise, efficiency and application of science and technology through sound system of education and training.

Usually, confusions, suspicions or misunderstandings in human mind arise, when the fundamentals and knowledge about the ground realities of the values and systems, where one lives,are not clear. Or when rumours based on half cooked information, half-truths, partial or incomplete information are spread with a purpose to further one’s selfish interests or let down others. Many a times, such opinions turn out to be a great lie. It is quite harmful for the whole society and the nation.

In the end again it may be repeated that in a changing world, nothing can be more disabling than its idolization of past; nothing can be more needed than the constant interpretation of past experiences and present circumstances.

April 17, 2018 Posted by | Uncategorized | , | Leave a comment

Caste politics

 “In present-day understanding of caste system, the element of caste is   predominant and   the element of system is suppressed considerably.”

Introduction

Very Sensitive issue – Entry of caste into national politics has turned it into a very sensitive issue –  both defended and opposed, mostly criticized vehemently by politicians, intellectuals, activists or reformers from other faiths. Critics  regard caste system as problematic and complicated. It has become a fashion in certain quarters to criticize caste system. So much and so that the word ‘Caste’ itself has become a derogatory word in present political scenario. In recent past, entry of caste -politics has become a complicated and problematic issue, which is hampering the government’s efforts to provide a good governance to the nation and work for its sustainable development.

Caste system as problematic and complicated? – Indian society is being portrayed as a ‘caste-ridden society’ and caste for all the miseries of submerged sections of society – from illiteracy to creating disparities of power, wealth and culture, escalation of violence, crimes and corruption. It is blamed for  pushing the nation towards disintegration, discrimination and exploitation of weaker, unprivileged sections of society to forcing destitution on vast number of people.

No caste-politics earlier – There was not so much heart-burning because of caste earlier. Venom against caste in some quarters does not lie in distant past, but only about 150 years back. It got escalated during British Imperial rule in India. The roots of present socio-political and economic ills and deprivation of masses on large scale lie not so much in caste system as mainly on the issues like poverty, illiteracy, population-explosion, or mass-unemployment etc.

Is creation of a casteless society possible? – Common men are reluctant to replace or abandon caste-system – an institution of proven value on trial and error basis. So far the supporters of “caste-less society” have not been able to suggest a better alternative scheme, or not thought of new creating new support systems and norms needed to substitute caste-system. People in general are not willing to experiment a new system of casteless society. They are not sure about the effectiveness of caste-less society. They think, substituting present caste-ridden Indian society with a caste-less society is no solution for empowering weaker sections of society or removing its adverse effects caste-politics. Therefore, creation of casteless society remains a distant dream.

Majority wishes for rational reforms in the already existing system – Generally common men feels that ‘Politicization of caste’ needs to be arrested at its earliest. They wish to make improvements in the tried and tested old system by removing deformities developed into it with time. A change is good for the growth of a society. But changes must be based on constant interpretation of past experiences and opinions, present requirements and existing ground realities of the place and future prospects.

Caste as a recipe for creating vote-banks – Entry of ‘caste’ into politics has led to unchecked growth of caste-ism. For politicians, it is a recipe for creating vote-banks. Unfortunately, those very people, who criticize caste-system vehemently, them-selves cling to their own caste-identity very strongly.  For others, it is the base to enjoy special privileges/benefits of affirmative action programs initiated and implemented by the Government of India. Elite section amongst so-called lower castes protects its turf under the banner of backward castes. The interest of all lies in keeping the majority of people ignorant, insecure and out of mainstream, so that they can be lured easily by making appeasement, protectionist false promises to further their sectional interests. And here lies the crux of present day’s caste-ist politics.

Had caste system become obsolete  – Even today, caste-system has not become obsolete despite all the weaknesses developed into the system and all the attacks on it from time to time. It has survived the vicissitudes of time and saved itself so far by erosion from within or assault from outside. Had it become obsolete, it would have given place to other systems. Indian social structure based on caste still presents one of the oldest social institution. It presents a continuous and uninterrupted living culture still existing in the whole world.

Allover the world, many systems, institutions, structures, principles, and cultures have been developed from time to time, which created a wave sweeping the entire world with it for some time. But soon, they became obsolete and were replaced by anti-waves which replaced them and wiped off the previous influence. But caste system, on which Indian social structure is based, has proved to be an exception. After each assault, it re-emerged with greater force.

‘Caste’ earned a bad name during Imperial rule in India –  Philosophers, writers and intelligentsia of Western world propagate theories of racial superiority and thereby, justified the domination of white races over dark races of the globe. Historians like Mill, Wilson, and Ward vehemently denounced the culture, character and social structure of the native people.

Western sociologists from Max Weber to Louis Dumont, discredited Hindu religion as well, because it gave birth to caste-system.  Showing his occidental irritation, Kitts criticized caste-system, as lacking all rational arrangements. Many British thinkers held caste system responsible for all social evils and practices, feudal attitude, backward thinking, belief in dogmas and superstitions sustained by a unique set of rituals, beliefs and whimsical concept of purity and pollution.

They made caste appear as one of the greatest scourges of the country, which doomed large classes of men, to mental and physical degradation and kept them away from education, prosperity and honour. According to them, Caste system had created an iniquitous society, exploitative and oppressive by nature, which fostered caste-conflicts and caste rivalries.

Ward alleged Not only is the caste contrary to every principle of justice and polity, it is repugnant to every feeling of benevolence.  The social circle is almost invariably, composed of persons of the same caste, to the careful exclusion of others.  It aims one class of men against another; it gives rise to greatest degree of pride and apathy.  It forms a sufficient excuse for not doing an act of benevolence towards another, that he is not of the same caste, Ney, a man dying with thirst will not accept a cooling drought of water from the hands or the cup of a person of a lower caste.  The Caste was made the excuse for the selfishness, covetousness, indolence and apathy of the individual.

However, there were some liberal British thinkers at that period also, who thought that criticism of caste system was over-drawn. Shore, the Governor-general, from 1792 to 1797, appointed by the court of directors governor-general of India in succession to Cornwallis regarded caste-system as a civil and religious distinction.  To him, its influence was so extensive, so minute and so intricate, as almost to defy generalization.  To a certain extent, its influence may have had the injurious effects described, but infinitely less than was usually supposed and that too were wearing away. (Hon’ble Fredrick John Shore, Indian Affairs,  pp 474.479)

It was also noticed during that period itself that many social groups lagged in the matter of modern education and employment in the government, Its process started long ago, since the business and administration of a large portion of India was being carried on in an alien language, first in Urdu and from 1844 onwards in English). Some had accepted that it was not so much, the social apathy, which kept the lower strata away from prosperity as, their ignorance, poverty, illiteracy and necessity to earn their livelihood right from an early age.

Ideological attack on Hindu social structure – The charges, which British ruler levied on caste system were not wholly correct. They perceived caste system as:

  • Highly Stratified System British vehemently criticized caste system for its being highly stratified, which divided the population into innumerable social groups, having distinct and diverse thinking and way of living styles. However, the British thinkers could not appreciate the role of caste system in integrating different tribes, groups and communities together under one system for centuries.  Instead of adopting the policy to convert the new groups in Hindu religion and thrusting on them its own values, thoughts, processes, superstructures and practices, Hindu religion, through caste system, presented an unique example in the world history – including all the incoming groups under one umbrella. They were not only welcomed and accommodated in Indian society but lived on their own terms.  It legitimized their beliefs, behavior patterns and life styles with freedom to evolve and change according to their internal rhythm.
  • Discriminatory System Caste system was criticized for its being prejudiced, high handedness or rude behavior of caste Hindus towards the lower strata of society. It was not very difficult for the British to find out a few examples for showing discrimination within a large country like India.

It is an anomaly that British, who themselves played discriminatory practices by keeping their railway compartments, waiting rooms, parks, clubs, hotels, places of other entertainment and residences segregated, criticized caste system as being discriminatory.

  • Criticized because of ranking of social groups based on concept of pure and impure – Gradation of professions and the position of social groups involved into various occupations depended on its being clean or unclean/pure or impure. Accordingly only learned Brahmins involved in intellectual pursuits, commanded the respect of the society and were were given the highest place in the society. Their stronghold was the centers of learning. Shudras engaged in menial jobs under the supervision of other three Varnas or associated with unclean occupations were placed at the bottom.  Brahmin groups associated with unclean jobs (like Maha-brahmins performing last rites), were also treated, more or less like Shudras.

Many studies have shown that in many parts of the country, like Punjab, Gujarat, and Marathi speaking areas of western India, tribal MP. Orissa, Bengal etc. people other than Brahmins held superior status. Iqbal Narain and PC Mathur inform that in Rajasthan, Rajputs and Kshatriyas given the highest rank because of their valor and military skills..In large part of peninsular Gujarat, according to Ghanshyam Shah Biswas, Banias had overshadowed Brahmins in economic and political areas for several centuries.  Maharashtra, Jayant Lele says, Brahmins were far behind the Maratha – Patils (village headman) and Maratha Deshmukhs (regional administrators).

In Orissa, Brahmin influence remained confined to small areas around the royal palaces.  Here too, warrior kings of Shudra and tribal origin sought Brahmins help to acquire Kshatriyas status.  Bengal was among the last areas to come into contact with Brahminical Hinduism.  It was only during the reign of Sen Guptas, that Kanyakubja Brahmins from Varanasi were invited to settle in Bengal. Brahmins never acquired status of dominant group there and remained just yet another Jati.

In Punjab, it was Jats, that were politically and economically dominant groups, says Prakash Tandon. Thakurs held prominent status in the eastern region of present day U.P. The Aine-Akbari informs that in the year 1600 AD, Thakur Zamindars paid more than two third of the total revenue in the middle Doab, Awadh and eastern parts of UP, Rohailkhand and Doab were controlled by Jat Chief-tons and later by Muslim Zamindars.  In Bihar, around Darbhanga region, Maithili Brahmins held political control, though they also continued their traditional occupations as priests and scholars of Sanskrit.

In fact, relations between various castes were expressed in terms of the idea of hygiene, cleanliness and purity.[ Srinivas, MN,  Social Change in Modren India,] Caste Hindus were very particular about eating dressed food, because it became stale very quickly. Undressed food or fruits were regarded pure, whatever hands it came from.

  • Position of Shudras – Critics allege that caste system has kept Shudras at bay. In Varna Vyavastha untouchables, though given a lower status, were very much an integral part of the society.  They performed essential social and economic tasks at community functions and in agriculture.  As far as Shudras causing pollution was concerned, Shore said that despite British being so powerful and the ruling community, the British were regarded at par with the lowest natives in point of caste. Yet a Brahmin in the service of Englishmen never hesitated in doing his duties. Certainly the lower castes are more tenacious on the subject of their caste than the higher.  A low caste man, if asked for a drop of water from his pot will often refuse, A Rajput or a Brahmin will not only consent, but will show his respect by offering it decently. [ Shore, Ibid. Pp 567-477] It was also alleged that laws of punishment were mild for caste Hindus, but severe and horrible for Shudras.[Ward, cited in Shore, p 66.] Shore said that it was impossible to say laws never were stringent for lower castes. Probably it might have occurred very seldom by a very bigoted prince or a bigoted Brahmin.  The horrible punishment to lower class did not exist, in general, during his times, nor had they been, perhaps for centuries, held in any more estimation, terror or respect, practically than bull or anathema issued by Pope Gregory the Seventh in England.
  • Disregard for menial work – It was alleged that giving Shudras, engaged in menial jobs, the lowest place in social hierarchy showed disregard of Hindus for menial work.  However, it is said that it was not the caste system, but the industrial revolution, which taught humanity to hate or escape from menial work.  The creation of new white collared jobs by British developed the attitude to discredit manual work.  The more a person withdrew from physical labor, the more civilized and qualified he was regarded by modern society.  Such an attitude lured all the sections of society to leave their traditional occupations and join white collared jobs in organised sectors, irrespective of their background, aptitude, skill and knowledge.
  • No choice in the matter of occupation – It is alleged that caste system forced people to do their traditional jobs only. It gave no choice. It served the interests of haves and enhanced the agonies of have-nots. Along with it, it killed initiative, creativity, innovation and caused unconscious avoidance of new activities. It prevented them from taking any risk.

The other side of the coin was that compulsion to do traditional jobs kept everyone engaged, made them contribute something to the society and saved them from any confusion in matter of job or being guided by whims and fancies in this matter. Professor Shah says, Caste system has a long range and permanent plan embracing every class of society. If applied to every individual, regardless of age and other conditions, no one could be unemployed. Nor could have one worked inappropriate to one’s ability, training, environment, aptitude and attainment, nor could any work be inadequately remunerated. [  Shah TK, Ancient Foundation of Economics, p 3, Times of India, dated 10.4.94.]

It is quite natural and convenient for a people to opt for traditional do a job, about which he knows, the knowledge of which, he acquires in a natural way. Then, it was the trend during ancient and medieval societies all-over the world. In England also it was not uncommon for a clergyman, a lawyer or soldier to educate and train his sons for his own profession. So was it in India. [Shore Fredrick John Notes on India Affairs Vol II P. 473] In Europe, under guild system, occupations not only hereditary, but also allowed to be followed by specific classes.  It was the industrial revolution, which had changed the world of employment in those countries as well.

  • Prevented upward mobility – Allegation that, caste system intentionally prevented upward mobility of lower strata of society is not wholly correct. In Western countries, thinkers regard that wealth rather than birth makes social mobility easier and faster, but they forget that wealth is also acquired through birth. And that is the reason why in West as well, there was a sharp distinction between nobility and common man.

This allegation is not fully correct. History is the proof that in ancient and medieval India, doors to rise to the highest rank or wealth, in the scale of society, were always open to the deserving persons belonging to any caste. Person belonging to the lowest rank could attain even sovereignty in India. Maratha Rajahs, most of whom were low caste, fought their way to their respective thrones against Mohammedan and commanded respect of all Indians much before the British assumed power in India.[ Shore Fredrick John-Notes on Indian Affairs Vol.II PP474-476-a rare book]

Shore had observed that there was considerable latitude in matter of work in India.  Among many castes, it was constantly found that one brother pursuing hereditary vocation and another entering army or farming. HT Colebrooke, one of the early Sanskrit Scholars says, It may be received as a general maxim that occupation appointed for each tribe is entitled merely to a preference. Every profession, with few exceptions, was open to every description of persons and the discouragement arising from religious prejudices is not greater than what exists in Great Britain from the effects of Municipal and Corporate laws. [  Indian Express, dated 18.9.90, p 8.]

Through sophisticated ways and means, the British imperialists created differences between different social groups and communities. They developed a complex in Indian minds about their heritage and its social structure, values and systems. Modern education highlighted the weaknesses, rigidity and harshness of caste system towards weaker sections of the society.

  • Modern education had not only attracted the attention of the people towards social evils, but also highlighted weaknesses, rigidity, distortions developed into the system during centuries of alien rule and harshness of caste system towards weaker sections of the society. They carefully avoided telling the whole truth or strong points of Indian culture.            It disassociated many Indian educated people from their traditional way of learning, classical roots and knowledge. With it, faded Indian values, philosophies and traditions. It loosened the bonds of unity within a social group. It divided the Indian people. It loosened the bonds of caste system and encouraged educated youth to disobey the elders of their groups. A group of Indian intelligentsia started feeling the caste system to be indefensible.

How and when the term ‘caste’ came into existence? – One of the reason for the term ‘Caste’ earning a bad name is that it itself is an alien word, first used by British rulers. After consolidating its power, and firmly establishing themselves, the rulers used the term caste for different social groups existing in India, earlier known as “Jaatis’ under ‘Varna Vyavastha’.

They made a sincere effort to know about the people, whom they wanted to rule and chalk out strategies for the colonial governance. Throughout second half of the Nineteenth Century, British anthropologists worked very hard to collect data and to catalogue various social groups and tribes. For the first time, the data so collected drew the attention of the rulers, intelligentsia and public to the diversity of Indian society and multiplicity of social groups, sub-groups and sub-sub groups throughout India. Later on to perpetuate their rule longer in India, British exploited the gathered information, used material relating to social, demographic, linguistics, religious and cultural diversities of India for ‘divide and rule’ purpose very diplomatically.

The first volume of Man in 1901 (the Journal of Royal Anthropological Institute) noted that the entire framework of native life in India is made up of groups of many social groups and numerous tribes. The status of each group in Hindu society and conduct of its individuals were, largely, determined by the rules of that particular group, to which he/she belonged.

Stratification of a society, a natural phenomenon 

Individuals differ from each other in natural endowments, intelligence, aptitudes, attitudes, skills, personal needs and other innate characteristics. Such differences are apt to give rise to the formations of different social groups and systems. In every society a number of groups emerge out of its functional necessity. Each society devises its own principles for stratification, for coordinated functioning of all parts together, for keeping its whole system fit and functional as well as for taking care of the interests of its people as a whole. Its basis may differ from place to place. It may be on basis of class, caste, religion, region, language or occupation.  ‘Class’ is the the basis of stratification in the Western Societies and Caste in India.

  •  Ranking of different classes in Western societies –  Usually factors like possession of wealth, occupation, education and qualifications, income, ownership of land, property etc. determines the status of individuals within a Western society. Hierarchical distinctions and status of different individuals within a society depend on their being powerful and powerless. Usually individuals belonging to upper class asserts more power and subordinate classes less power. Factors determining higher class status depend on their costume and grooming, mannerism, cultural refinement and political standing vis-à-vis church/temples/ mosques, government, and/or social clubs. Also use of honorary titles, reputation of honor or disgrace, language, race determine the degrees ofindividuals’ class status.
  • Caste’ as basis India – Caste system is an indigenous system, conceptualized, developed and practiced exclusively in India, it is difficult for Westerners and non-Indians to understand what ‘caste system’ is and what caste means to a common man. In India, stratification is done on the basis of caste system, it gives Indian society a distinguished identity, a solid social structure with a system of thought, way of life, and sense of direction. It is –

Inclusive by nature – In India, stratification begins with a social group, called caste. Caste-system is different from class on some points. It is not concerned with persons individually, but includes all persons belonging to a social group.

A natural social institution – For a common man in India Caste is a natural, valid and inevitable part of Indian society.  An individual is a natural member of Family and of extended family.  Caste is second only to the family.  Its members are bonded by same language, customs, thinking and way of living and occupation. Rules of endogamy, ritual purity, interdependence, specialization and hierarchical order of social units are its important traits.

Separates wealth from status – Caste-system separates wealth from status, power from authority and knowledge from temptations of worldly comforts. All individuals within a caste group – irrespective of their financial position – are equal having similar rank, rights and duties. Its constituent members are supposed to be independent, yet their roles complementary.

Ranking – According to caste-system, the ranking of different castes in Hindu society depend on the nature and social relevance of their work, contribution of their work for social subsistence, efforts required to perform their duties and amount of self restraint/self discipline, they exercise, their relative purity, morality, knowledge and spiritual standards. Considerations of self-discipline, hygiene and cleanliness on the basis of climatic conditions of the region are also given importance, while ranking different castes.

Covers entire social fabric of India – Caste system covers almost the entire social fabric of India.  It has influenced other sects. Muslims or Christians, Sikhs or Buddhist could not remain immune from its its influence and has absorbed many of the systems and practices of caste-system.

Closer relations – A person’s relations with members of his caste are closer than with those, belonging to other castes. Internalized caste norms define an individual role in the society. It makes one feel good and loved, when he lives up to these norms, and anxious and guilty, when he transgresses them.

Historical backgroundThere was no caste-politics in ancient India. It all started during British rule in India. Earlier to that cast-system had created –

  • An atmosphere of co-existence and harmony – It is a historical fact that caste-system had created an atmosphere of co-existence and harmony, coherence, stability, continuity and led to all round growth of the Indian society. Generation after generation people belonging different castes and communities lived together despite numerous foreign invasions, centuries of foreign rule, migrations and assimilation of various groups having diverse languages and practices. It provided unity of culture, which bound together all people of Indian peninsula from one end to the other, thus making unity in diversity a reality.
  • Concepts of forward castes or backward castes non-existent – There was not much disparity between different castes or between urban and rural people. The concepts of forward castes or backward castes, disparities between different sections of society and exploitation of the No caste politics weak were almost non-existent earlier. The tropical climate of the country compelled the people to the distribution of surplus, as it was difficult to store anything for long.
  • Stress on self-restraint and self-discipline – Every caste was supposed to lead a self restraint and self disciplined life in all respect, be it in the matter of daily routine, occupation or inter caste relationship. Brahmins, occupying the highest place in the society, were put under maximum restrictions and were denied accumulation of wealth. They were directed to lead a simple life, devoted to the spiritual and intellectual pursuits. The higher the caste within a Varna, the purer it was considered, and greater was the self-restrictions on its behavior through rituals. The system of each caste having a specific position in the society and a specific work to do with its rights and duties boosted the morale of the people and promoted social equilibrium and solidarity.
  • Inter-dependence because of its local character – Local character and semi-autonomous nature of caste system made close interaction and cooperation between different castes a reality. All the activities of urban or rural areas were confined within a small local area, having very little links with the outside world because of slower means of transport. Only merchants visited different distant places. The local societies used to be self-sufficient mutually `supporting and caring” for each other.
  • No caste took an all India character – No caste took an all India character. There was no nationwide hierarchy of castes. However, in a local area, the relative standing of castes was more or less fixed. All local castes, whether high or low, living in an area mutually depended and supported for fulfilling different kind of needs and cared for each other. All people living in a village or city, were bound together by economic and social ties and had a strong bond of mutual dependence. Rituals required the participation of all castes.
  • Interdependence in social life and self-reliance in personal life – Interdependence in social life and self-reliance in personal life were the intrinsic features of caste system making each local area self-sufficient and capable to fulfill all the needs of its people. People living in a local area shared moments of joy and sorrow with each other. All castes including untouchables were assigned important social duties. Harijan women helped all castes at time of child-birth. Harijan males beat drums in front of Hindu’s houses or in front of a procession on important occasions/ceremonies. Village barber spread news, arranged marriages and served food during celebrations. Occasionally non-Brahmins or Harijans served as priests of temples of goddesses like Sita or Kali, where all castes made offerings. The key, to understand the caste system, was not in seeing it as a framework of hierarchical layers of social order, each fitting neatly below the other, but as a series of vertical parallels. Each caste was an independent entity, with its own hierarchy, based either on a tribal identity or an occupational identity. All the castes were independent, yet their roles complementary.
  • Automatic checks and balances – Decentralized self-regulated systems managed various activities in social, intellectual, political, and economic life and controlled its malfunctioning or dis-functioning. There was hardly any question of all India tyranny of any caste group. There was not a single group identifiable as very strong-dominating all the others, or as an enemy to defeat. Laws remained unmodified and flexible with the capacity to adapt to local customs and situations. People in power and position cared for the lower castes in order to acquire and retain local followers. The system made upper castes generous in matters of food, drinks and loans, when required.
  • Control over arbitrariness of any social group – The plurality of society provided automatic checks and balances and controlled the arbitrariness or unbalanced growth of power of any group. Till medieval period, Indian peasantry in UP, Bihar and MP were armed and put pressure on Kshatriyas. In fact, non-Kshatriya peasant provided leadership of most armed bands, which were numerically predominant and economically and politically strong at the village level. The monopoly of powerful peasant was a reality of the rural life of Medieval India. The Brahmin strongholds were the centers of learning. The floating population, consisting groups like Gujjars, Bhattis, Rajput rangers, who remained outside caste system, were so strong, that they terrorized settled agriculturists for centuries. Forests, which competed with arable land in size and importance, till the 18th century, gave shelter and food to large sections of society and served as havens for those in search of escape from society. Thus, from time to time, and place to place, different castes rose and fell in their social order, some died out and new ones were formed.
  • More stress on duties – The system clearly specifies duties, privileges and restrictions of each role separately and managed relationship with others. It encourages self-discipline, self-control and self-direction. Sprees on one’s responsibilities/duties rather than on rights, combined with principle of inter- dependence provides its own system of checks and balances over arbitrary use of one’s authority and leads to automatic decentralization of authority.
  • Flexibility and adaptability – Caste system took different shades and meaning with the changing times and places. Once changed, it never returned to its original form. Its adaptability and absorptive nature has pronged its life. The system evolved its structures and systems leisurely and kept on coping with the slow changes, time brought in. Its character during Indus Valley Civilization was altogether different from what exists today. It is still in a transient phase. It is different in context of village, locality, region or religion.
  • High level of intelligence and specialization – The Caste system served as a spawning bed for social and technical skills. By its very nature, it encouraged the development and preservation of local skills. There was a tendency to bring in the most diversified skills to high level of excellence. It was encouraged with religious and semi-religious sanctions. Assignment of different functions to different communities led to the transfer of knowledge and expertise, from one generation to another, through inheritance and evolved an atmosphere, where a high level of Specialization and wisdom in different areas of activities could be achieved. 
  • Natural training without investment – The Caste system transmitted the tricks of a trade, hidden intricacies, solutions of their occupational problems, intelligence, abilities, experiences, values and skills from one generation to another in a natural way. They learned it while growing up, informally from their elders. It gave them confidence and saved them from confusion or unhealthy competition. Being in constant contact with the family occupation, it was natural for the people to learn maximum about their traditional occupations.
  • Acted as a shield – During medieval India, caste system was a major force for failure of Islam, Christianity and other religions to make headway even after mass conversion. Though many evil practices developed in the system during this period, but it acted as a shield for Hindus to retain their cultural identity, while living under alien rule, whether it was of Mughals, Portuguese or British.

 Caste-system worked so well and efficiently in ancient India that when the world was passing through Dark Age, India was full of light. First few centuries are recognized as the golden period of Indian history. Caste system had wisely organized all activities of society properly. The first few centuries are recognized as the golden period of Indian history. During this period, arts, commerce, crafts, philosophy and knowledge flourished magnificently. Its people reached a high level of intelligence having specialization in different areas. Many travelers visiting India, from alien lands at different points of time, confirmed that India possessed huge wealth, knowledge, and quality of life. It was a cheerful land. Each person found a niche in the social system. Its people reached a high level of intelligence having specialization in different areas. It was a cheerful land.

Derailment of Caste as a system after the downfall of Hindu Raj – Many deformities and social evils have been developed into caste system after the downfall of Hindu Raj and old Hindus values. Continuous invasions of Turks, Afghans and Mughals during medieval period, when most of the Muslim rulers and Priests humiliated and annihilated the value system of Hindus, destroyed their places of worship and made them victim of all kinds of excesses -like conversion of Hindus into Islam, willingly or forcibly, imposition of Zaziya on Hindus etc.

It was difficult for Hindus to preserve their identity and indigenous culture during medieval period. The conscious efforts by them to preserve their values and honour, made the caste rules and rituals stricter and more rigidly applied than before. (Basham, Ibid pp 181-82). Many social evils like Sati Pratha; Dowry, Purdah system etc. took birth. Religious fundamentalism was born. Hindu and Muslim priests, alike, arbitrarily distorted and misinterpreted the tenets of their respective religions. It led to the process of stiffening/ hardening/ crystallizing of the caste system. Besides, the feudalistic attitude, extravagance and luxurious life style of Mughal rulers and those at the helm of authority, increased the disparity between the rulers and the ruled.

Start of Caste politics during British Rule – British rulers had a double mission in India, one destructive, the other regenerating; the annihilation of the old Asiatic Society and laying the material foundation of Western Society in Asia. The regenerating character was concerned with social transformation through modern education, English language as a medium of learning and official language, modernization in economic sphere, political unification of the country and laying foundations for many democratic institutions. The reactionary and destructive character was seen in the economic and social sphere. The growth of casteism had a close connection with these developments.

Caste-politics and communalism fanned by British rulers for political reasons – British rulers purposely-(especially to divide Hindu population) launched an ideological attack on Indian social structure and its caste system . They portrayed caste-system as “highly stratified” dividing its people into vast number of groups having distinct and diverse thinking and life-styles. They called it “discriminatory,” “iniquitous,” “exploitative,” “oppressive” “barbarous,” and “uncivilized” system. They held caste system responsible for evil social practices, feudalistic attitude, backward thinking, belief in dogmas and superstitions sustained by a unique set of rituals, and whimsical concept of purity and pollution. They blamed caste-system for evil social practices, feudalistic attitude, backward thinking, belief in dogmas and superstitions sustained by a unique set of rituals, and whimsical concept of purity and pollution as well as spreading  prejudice, high handedness and rude behavior of caste Hindus towards the lower strata of society.

Growth of Caste-Politics – British rulers made caste and community as tools to make Indians fight amongst themselves. They adopted the path of ‘divide and rule’. Initially they recognized officially political formations of different sections of society on basis of race, religion, caste, creed, or place. Then they adopted policies, which gave a boost to caste-ist tendencies. They re-classified the castes from Brahmins (Learners), Khhatrias (Warriors), Vaishyas (Business men)and Shudras (workers under the guidance of above three groups) to Upper castes, backward castes, Scheduled castes, Scheduled Tribes and minorities and politicized it according to their administrative convenience. British rulers showed to the Leaders of independent India the way how to ignite/enflame caste rivalries.

The way the following policies were implemented, had led to the entry and growth of caste-politics during 19th and 20th centuries were –

  • Modern education – Modern education disassociated Indians from their traditional way of learning, classical roots and knowledge. With it faded Indian values, philosophies and traditions. Tough competition between different sections of society to get hold on modern occupations, led to inter-caste rivalries, social tensions and group conflicts among Indians.
  • Modern means of transport – The modern means of transport and communications destroyed the local character of society. Modern means of transport had sharply restricted the hold of caste-elders over its members and replaced the traditional pattern of checks and balances and leadership by voluntary associations, social reformers and political leaders. Caste organizations emerged and entered into region-wise caste alliances.
  • Industrialization – Industrialization has led to urbanization and change in occupational pattern in India. The British discouraged local genius, cottage industries and fine arts. Many traditional occupations became obsolete, or less paying or were regarded more hazardous and more time consuming. The British apathy towards indigenous skills, knowledge and occupations had scattered efforts, sense of direction and manufacturing skills of millions of artisans, craftsman, weavers etc. Millions of people were pushed backwards in a very subtle manner and loosened the sanctity of caste rules and caste consciousness in matters of occupation.                                          Very few of them could join modern occupations. Majority belonging to different castes could neither enter modern sector, nor could stick to their traditional occupations considering menial work derogatory and lost their creativity, sense of achievement and pride. Such people added the numbers of poor agricultural laborers, industrial workers or marginal labors or unemployed. Outcome of such a development has been casualty of workers first, afterwards their work style, commitment, motivation and culture.It led to the decay of village industries as the competition was directly with the cheap machine goods.
  • Introduction of Electoral politics –  The introduction of electoral politics, in the beginning of the 20th century gave rise to “Power in numbers”. It gave political leverage to the non-Brahmin castes on account of their numerical strength. It started cut-throat competition for scarce positions of power and prestige under British Raj.                                                                                           Granting of separate Muslim Electorate by Minto Morley Reforms Minto-Morley Reforms, known as Government of India Act of 1909, brought the idea of communal electorate to the forefront in the minds of all the castes and communities, which led successfully to divide Hindu population also into two uncompromising groups, viz. `We” Non-Brahmins vs. `They” Brahmins and caste Hindus.
  • ‘Policy of Reservations’ – Muslims and Non-Brahmin castes resented dominance of Brahmins in education and administration. To restrict Brahmin’s entry in Government jobs and make it available to non-Brahmins communities, British rulers started practice of “Preferences” by giving them financial assistance and preferences in education and Government employment at local and provincial level. It served double purpose for them – getting credit for amelioration and protection of downtrodden and keeping natives busy in their in-fights.                                                           Privileges bestowed on ‘preferential-basis’ by the rulers – British rulers devised a novel method to distribute and balance the domination of Brahmins in education and employment on ‘preferential-basis’. The patronage of British rulers to non-Brahmin castes and Muslims led them to emerge as powerful pressure groups. The powerful voice of Non Brahmin leaders made government to pursue the principle of special attention on the basis of caste. It was strongly established in the South at provincial level, which ultimately gave birth to the policy of reservation. 1905 to 1940 was the period, when idea of Reservation/positive discrimination was conceived, experimented and established firmly. It opened up various channels of confrontation.                                            Communal Award, Poona pact of 1932 – Communal Award of 1932 created a permanent split in Hindu Society and perpetuated casteism further. It made impossible the assimilation of different castes under one fold. Dr. Rajendra Prasad said, ‘the principle of dividing population into communal groups, which had been adopted in the Minto Morley reforms had been considerably extended, even beyond what had been done by Montagu Chelmsford Reforms… The electorate in 1919 was broken up into 10 parts, now it is fragmented into seventeen unequal bits… Hindu community was further weakened by giving separate representation to Scheduled castes. Division on the basis of religion, occupation and service were made. Every possible cross division was introduced by the British. The Communal Award strengthened the roots of casteism in politics.

‘Census operations’ – Through Census operations, British rulers divided Indian social structure in a fundamental way and gave rigidity to social stratification and hierarchical ranking.

  • The older four Varnas, embracing numerous castes and sub-castes within its fold were divided into five new unbridgeable compartments – Backward caste, forward caste (caste Hindus), untouchables or scheduled caste, scheduled tribes and minority. Through legal process, each one got a new separate and distinct identity. The new way of classifying the Indian society instigated caste consciousness, caste animosities and made caste a tool in political, religious and cultural battles that Hindus fought amongst themselves from now onwards without any sign of relief even as of today.
  • Destroyed the flexibility of caste system – Census operations are responsible for destroying the flexibility of caste system and giving rigidity to social stratification and hierarchical ranking. Caste was a flexible and fluid unit of Indian society. Census operations codified the castes and standardized the system by placing all the jatis into four Varnas or in the categories of outcastes and aborigines. Census operations, led to an all-round hardening of social-system and to frantic effort by each group-for upward mobility. It led to caste-ism in politics.
  • Pigeonholed everyone by caste and community – Middleton, a Census Superintendent remarked, “We pigeonholed everyone by caste and community. We deplore its effect on social and economic problems. But we are largely responsible for the system…Our land records and official documents have added iron-bonds to the old rigidity of caste…. The government’s act for labels and pigeon-holes had led to a crystallization of the caste system, which, except amongst the aristocratic caste, was really very fluid under indigenous rule.”
  • Census enumeration far from neutral – The process of Census enumeration was far from neutral. The British retained the distinctions between different sub-castes, relevant to them for organizing labor and homogenized all those sub-castes, for which they had no use, therefore, no interest. All the floating population like Gujjars, Bhattis, Ranger Rajputs, who remained out-side caste system were fused into one. The Census operation kept Brahmins, whom, the British administrators, Christian Missionaries and Orientalists, pinpointed as the potential threat to the British, at periphery and, instigated other castes against them.
  • Venom against caste-system and the Brahmin community – The leaders of the downtrodden like Mahatma Phule, Baba Saheb Ambedkar or Gopal Ganesh taught the lower castes to get united. They instilled deeply in the minds of millions of unlettered Hindus, venom against caste-system and the Brahmin community. Caste system, to them, was responsible for treating them as lesser human beings; engaging them in forced labour, unsavory jobs imposing many restrictions on them; preventing them from joining the mainstream of the society; and the subjugation of lower castes with the help of religion.
  • Suggestion to exclude Untouchables from Hindu-fold – The suggestion of Census Commissioner to exclude untouchables from Hindu fold in the coming 1911 census immediately increased the importance of untouchables in political circle, in social circle, and in their own eyes too. Around 1909, the non-Brahmin Community, which resented the Brahmins hold in modern occupations, was divided into two Backwards and untouchables. For the first time, the lowest layer of Hindu Community was conceptualized under the name of untouchability in the political circles.
  • The leaders vehemently criticized its hierarchical structure based on caste, and regarded untouchability as an inevitable concomitant of caste system. Dr. Ambedkar made it abundantly clear that, it was through political power that untouchables were to find their solution, not through acceptance by Hindus. Eradication of caste system became the major plank of ‘backward’ castes and ‘untouchable’ castes.

                                                                         After Independence

The seeds of ‘divide and rule’, sown by British imperial rulers, have blossomed in full in Independent India. Casteism, corruption, criminalization etc. are some of the direct consequences of political expediency and opportunism. Present-day politics encourages sectional forces, which are vocal and demand enough space for themselves in job-market and higher education aggressively. There is no respite from casteism.

Modernization, industrialization and urbanization, liberalization  and  Globalization have lessened the rigidities of caste in social arena. But its growing influence in national politics has created many problems. Focus of people on pursuit of money and materialistic pleasures and erosion of basic moral and human values has led to alarming disparities of power, wealth and culture amongst different sections of society. There is complete centralization of control systems in the hands of a few Individuals and groups with political, money or muscle power, who control destiny of millions and have say in almost every walk of national life. Casteism, communalism, rigid attitude, in-discipline, violence, corruption, and chase of materialism based on ruthless competition have weakened the social fabric beyond repair.

Attempts for social changes make a virtue of narrow loyalties of caste and religion, generating sub-cultures like favoritism, lure for easy money, nepotism and, in-discipline in the society. Caste and communal conflicts are increasing. There are sectarian and regional imbalances generating social and psychological tensions. The work culture has been degenerated.

Under-currents of caste politics have made the task of governance difficult, making the governance of the nation difficult and ineffective. The administration has become incompetent to solve the burning national issues. It has turned the vision of national development into an empty dream.

Caste more liberal in social sphere – In modern India, spread of literacy and growing awareness among masses has already brought to an end slowly but steadily many of the discriminatory practices and deformities developed in Caste system, while living under alien rule. It has become more liberal and less restrictive in social life of the people. Castes no longer enjoy legal or religious sanctions.

Castes Less restrictive – Expulsion from castes means little, while earlier it meant complete social ostracism. Old style of authority and power exercised by caste-elders has already diminished except for a few rural areas especially in Haryana and Rajasthan. Restrictions or interactions between different castes arising due to considerations for purity and pollution are fading away from public life even from rural areas. Traditional barriers on marriage, hereditary occupations and commonality are loosing its importance.

Poor governance – There is no respite to a large number of people. Even now, after 70 years of Independence, millions of people suffer from poverty, disparity, discrimination and deprivation. They are still exploited mercilessly by strong men of society. Why?

It is not the caste-system, but the bad politics and poor governance, which is responsible. Modern India is sharply divided into two – “haves” and “have-nots”. The most important factors responsible for disparities are vote-bank politics, irrational and corrupt ways of pursuing the paternal policies and government’s failure to address real issues at central and State levels.

‘Caste’, the most powerful tool for creation of  vote-banks –  ‘Caste’ has become a bye-word for Indian politicians. For the present-day political leaders caste is the easiest and most powerful tool to sway public opinion emotionally and to create a larger vote bank for them. It may be called ossification of caste-system fallen into the hands of power brokers and vote guzzlers.

Emergence of political identities – For political and governance purposes, modern Indian society has been stratified in most insensitive manner. For grabbing the political power, caste politics has  divided Indian people into the following unbridgeable groups – Upper castes, Scheduled Castes, Scheduled tribes, Other Backward Class and Minorities. Every time, before elections, groups formed on the basis of caste and community make fake promises to pursue sectional interests shamelessly.

Narrow loyalties of caste and religion  – Narrow loyalties of caste and religion are encouraged in political arena. It has generated sub-cultures like caste-ism, favoritism, and lure for easy money, nepotism, parochialism, communalism, regionalism etc. Bigoted sentiments and irresponsible comments are spreading in-discipline in the society. The rising aspirations and demands of people, with the spread of education and awareness, has created added problem for the government.

Under-currents of caste politics – Under-currents of caste politics have made the government incapable to solve the burning national issues. It has made to maintain law and order difficult. Inter-caste and intra-caste, inter-community and intra-community and inter-tribal and intra-tribal conflicts are increasing day by day in order to get more space in the corridors of power.

Real issues pushed into the background – Real issues like mass-scale illiteracy, poverty, unemployment, inflation, deteriorated law and order situation, increasing violence or general coarsening of moral fiber of the Indian society etc. are pushed into the background. the voice of upright and honest people belonging to middle class is being continuously throttled mercilessly. They are being punished for following sincerely family-planning norms, which has decreased their numbers. In present day vote-bank politics based on game of numbers, it is very easy now for the pursuers of political power to sideline them.

 Winding up

Empowerment of masses depends on inculcation of knowledge and awareness through ‘education for all’. Usually Power rests with those having either knowledge or physical strength or wealth. Knowledge brings in both force and wealth. Instead of putting blame on caste-system, it would be more desirable to make arrangements for sound system of education for empowering the submerged sections of society.

Despite all the undesirable developments taken place in the system, caste system is still quite popular amongst Indian masses. Not only Hindus, but other sects living in India, with all their egalitarian faith, whether foreign or indigenous, like Muslims and Christians, Sikhs or Buddhist, have not remained immune from its caste system. They have also absorbed many of its practices and systems.

Change one must. Past should not be idolized. Any system, which in light of modern times appears to be ineffective or inefficient should be replaced by a better one. But it will be suicidal to sacrifice something to an increasing passion for change. Changes must be based on constant interpretation of past experiences and opinions.

 

28 Comments received in the past on the post, “Caste System”

  1. “Hi there, simply changed into aware of your weblog through Google, and found that it’s really informative. I am going to be careful for brussels. I will appreciate if you happen to continue this in future. Many people will probably be benefited out of your writing. Cheers!” (Comment by Windsor Brokers Review | September 6, 2013 )
  2. “Someone necessarily assist to make significantly articles I might state. That is the very first time I frequented your website page and so far? I surprised with the research you made to create this actual post incredible. Wonderful activity!” (Comment by Earn Money | September 19, 2013)
  3. “It’s actually a nice and useful piece of info. I am happy that you simply shared this helpful info with us. Please stay us up to date like this. Thanks for sharing.” (Comment by Make Money Fast and Easy | September 26, 2013 )
  4. “Hi! Someone in my Myspace group shared this website with us so I came to look it over. I’m definitely enjoying the information. I’m bookmarking and will be tweeting this to my followers! Terrific blog and amazing design and style.” (Comment by Habibi | November 25, 2013
  5. “I consider something really unique in this web site.” (Comment by Habibi | November 26, 2013 )
  6. “I’m not certain where that you are acquiring your information, but good topic. I needs to spend some time learning significantly far more or understanding more. Thanks for excellent information I was srching for this details for my mission.” (Comment by Habibi | November 30, 2013)
  7. “Thanks for sharing superb informations. Your web-site is very cool. I’m impressed by the details that you’ve on this blog. It reveals how nicely you perceive this subject. Bookmarked this web page, will come back for more articles. You, my pal, ROCK! I found just the info I already searched all over the place and simply couldn’t come across. What a perfect web site.” (Comment by woolrich parka uomo | November 30, 2013)
  8. “Check this out. […] that is the end of this article. Here you’ll find some sites that we think you’ll appreciate, just click the links over[…]…” (Trackback by Ashley Hale | January 1, 2014)
  9. “The quality of the content you add to your blog needs to be something visitors new and old appreciate enough to keep returning. This includes encyclopedias, spam sites, fan sites, forums and more.” (Comment by Santana | February 20, 2014″)
  10. Free Japan; “After examine a couple of of the blog posts in your website now, and I actually like your manner of blogging. I bookmarked it to my bookmark web site listing and will likely be checking back soon. Pls take a look at my web page as nicely and let me kno…” (Trackback by Free Japan | March 15, 2014)
  11. “For politicians, it is a recipe for creating vote-banks. nice quote” Comment by resep masak | March 21, 2014 )
  12. “Greetings! Very helpful advice within this article! It is the little changes which will make the biggest changes. Thanks a lot for sharing! (Comment by payday loans | March 31, 2014)
  13. “This is really attention-grabbing, You’re an excessively skilled blogger. I’ve joined your feed and look ahead to in quest of extra of your fantastic post. Additionally, I have shared your web site in my social networks. (Comment by recette crepe | April 15, 2014)
  14. … [Trackback] […] Read More here: latasinha.wordpress.com/caste-system-casteism-and-casteless-society-in-india/ […]” (Trackback by Homepage | May 7, 2014
  15. “I like what you guys tend to be up too. Such clever work and reporting! Keep up the excellent works guys I’ve incorporated you guys to my personal blogroll. (Comment by Sebastian | May 9, 2014)
  16. Write more, thats all I have to say. Literally, it seems as though you relied on the video to make your point. You definitely know what youre talking about, why throw away your intelligence on just posting videos to your blog when you could be giving us something enlightening to read?” (by best treadmill | June 2, 2014)
  17. “Exceptional post however I was wanting to know if you could write a litte more on this subject? I’d be very thankful if you could elaborate a little bit further. Thank you!” Comment by web site | June 14, 2014
  18. “This piece of writing is truly a nice one it assists new the web visitors, who are wishing for blogging.” (Comment by http://www.programmableweb.com | June 16, 2014)
  19. ‘ve been exploring for a bit for any high quality articles or blog posts on this sort of space . Exploring in Yahoo I ultimately stumbled upon this web site. Studying this info So i’m happy to express that I’ve an incredibly just right uncanny feeling I came upon just what I needed. I so much definitely will make certain to don?t omit this website and give it a look regularly.” (Comment by thetahealing experts health wellness | June 24, 2014)
  20. “Pretty section of content. I just stumbled upon your website and in accession capital to assert that I get actually enjoyed account your blog posts. Any way I’ll be subscribing to your augment and even I achievement you access consistently fast.” (Comment by riverview park real estate agent | June 25, 2014 )
  21. “If you want to get a great deal from this piece of writing then you have to apply these methods to your won webpage.” Comment by Bird Removal Ancaster | June 26, 2014
  22. “Hello There. I found your blog using msn. This is a really well written article. I’ll make sure to bookmark it and return to read more of your useful info. Thanks for the post. I’ll certainly return”. (Comment by stanley doors Burlington | June 29, 2014)
  23. “Hello there! I could have sworn I’ve visited this web site before but after browsing through a few of the posts I realized it’s new to me. Regardless, I’m definitely pleased I discovered it and I’ll be bookmarking it and checking back often!” (Comment by vacation rental by owner Bellevue | July 7, 2014)
  24. “Thank you for the good writeup. It in fact was a amusement account it. Look advanced to far added agreeable from you! However, how can we communicate?” (Comment by executive coach columbus | July 9, 2014)
  25. “Great delivery. Solid arguments. Keep up the amazing work.” Comment by Waterdown Pest Control | July 10, 2014
  26. “Helpful info. Fortunate me I discovered your website by chance, and I am surprised why this accident didn’t took place earlier! I bookmarked it.” (Comment by Bird Removal Oakville | July 11, 2014 )
  27. “Terrific article! That is the kind of infoo that should bbe shared across the internet. Disgrace on Google for now not positioning this publish upper!Coome on over and visit myy web site . Thanks” (Comment by Melina | July 26, 2014)
  28. “What’s a good site to post creative writing for others to comment on?” (Comment by nanoo | August 2, 2014)

January 5, 2018 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Similarities between Reservations in government jobs and story of ‘an ant and ‘a grasshopper’

“Work is worship. There is no substitute for hard-work”

Introduction

The similarity between the story of an ant and a grass hopper and present scenario of sharp contrast and disparities existing in the position of well-educated, enlightened people or intelligentsia and forward sections of Indian society, mostly belonging to upper castes, (demographically small in size like ant of this story) and poor masses (mostly belonging to lower castes and demographically large in numbers, like a grass-hopper of this story). During the whole of 19th and first half of the 20th centuries, people mostly belonging to upper castes, shaped the course of events for decades to come and even beyond by taking initiative to challenge the imperial power. They faced all the brunt of the British ruler’s anger, while engaged in the national and reform movements, worked hard, made many sacrifices to break the vicious web created by the British rulers for economic exploitation and their intrusion into Indian culture on one hand and on the other internal weaknesses of Indian society engulfed in evil practices and superstitions.

Old story of the ant and the grasshopper with new interesting twist (Quoted from rajesha.ind@gmail.com)

Old version of the story

The ant works hard in the withering heat all summer long building his house and laying up supplies for the winter. The grasshopper thinks the ant’s a fool and laughs & dances & plays the summer away. Come winter, the ant is warm and well fed. The grasshopper has no food or shelter, so he dies out the cold.

Modern version of the story

The ant works hard in the withering heat all summer long, building his house and laying up supplies for the winter. The grasshopper thinks the ant’s a fool and laughs & dances & plays the summer away. Masses have been happy with the small favors bestowed on them by the rulers and short-term benefits by giving them an opportunity to be equal in social status with the advanced sections of society. They are totally unmindful of the after-effects and cruel intentions of the rulers to “divide” the Indian society and “rule” it as long as possible.

Come winter, the shivering grasshopper calls a press conference and demands to know why the ant should be allowed to be warm and well fed while others are cold and starving. NDTV, BBC,CNN show up to provide pictures of the shivering grasshopper next to a video of the ant in his comfortable home with a table filled with food. The World is stunned by the sharp contrast.

The present political scenario of the country as how the government deals with the issues controlling the fate of the nation and millions of its citizens is quite similar to it. How can this be that this poor grasshopper is allowed to suffer so? Arundhati Roy stages a demonstration in front of the ant’s house. Medha Patkar goes on a fast along with other grasshoppers demanding that grasshoppers be relocated to warmer climates during winter.

Amnesty International and Koffi Annan criticize the Indian Government for not upholding the fundamental rights of the grasshopper. The Internet is flooded with online petitions seeking support to the grasshopper (many promising Heaven and Everlasting Peace for prompt support as against the wrath of God for non-compliance).

Opposition MP’s stage a walkout. Left parties call for “Bharat Bandh” in West Bengal and Kerala demanding a Judicial Enquiry. CPM in Kerala immediately passes a law preventing Ants from working hard in the heat so as to bring about equality of poverty among ants and grasshoppers. Lalu Prasad allocates one free coach to Grasshoppers on all Indian Railway Trains, aptly named as the ’Grasshopper Rath’.

Finally, the Judicial Committee drafts the Prevention of Terrorism Against Grasshoppers Act [POTAGA]”, with effect from the beginning of the winter. Arjun Singh makes Special Reservation for Grass Hopper in educational Institutions & in Government Services. The ant is fined for failing to comply with POTAGA and, having nothing left to pay his retroactive taxes, his home is confiscated by the Government and handed over to the grasshopper.

In a ceremony covered by NDTV, Arundhati Roy calls it “a triumph of justice”. Lalu calls it ‘Socialistic Justice’. CPM calls it the ‘revolutionary resurgence of the downtrodden’. Koffi Annan invites the grasshopper to address the UN General Assembly.

Many years later … The ant has since migrated to the US and set up a multibillion dollar company in silicon valley. 100’s of grasshoppers still die of starvation despite reservation somewhere in India. As a result of losing a lot of hard working ants and feeding the grasshoppers, India remains -a developing country!!

Demand for national solidarity

On the issue to uplift of weaker sections of society, observations, comments and suggestions of Kaka Kalelkar, Chairman of the First Central backward Class Commission, 1955, goes well with the story told above. In his note of dissent, ha had expressed his views on the issue of Reservation in class I, II, III and IV Services of  Government of India.

  • According to him, “National solidarity in a democratic set up demands Government to recognize only two ends – the individual at one end and the nation as a whole at the other. Nothing should be encouraged to organize itself in between these two ends to the detriment of the freedom of the individual and solidarity of the nation. All communal and denominational organizations and groupings of lesser and narrower units have to be watched carefully, so that they do not jeopardize the national solidarity and do not weaken the efforts of the nation to serve the various elements in the body politic with equity. Mutual help, mutual respect and mutual trust are the touchstone, on which all communal and denominational activities will be tested and anything that undermines it, will be expected and brought to book.” …
  • “Communalism and casteism are bound to destroy the unity of the nation and narrow down the aspiration of our people.” I
  • “The special concessions and privileges accorded to Hindu castes acted as a bait and bribe inciting Muslim and Christian Society to revert to caste and caste prejudices and the healthy social effect by Islam and Christianity were thus rendered null and void.” (Para iv)
  • When to bestow special concessions? – In his note of dissent, Kaka clarifies that “It is only when a community is proved to be working  under a special handicap and is not allowed to freely function as a citizen, that the state may intervene and make a special provision for the advancement of such under-privileged and handicapped communities or persons… A general formula for helping all persons to whatever caste or community, they may belong, should be made.” (Para viii)It is not enough to prove that one community is regarded inferior by another. The Christian may look down the Jews and the Jews may retaliate with the same feelings. The Brahmins ‘Learned section of society’ may regard ‘Banias’ (business community) as inferior and the ‘Bania’, in his turn, may regard a ‘Brahmin’ as a mere social dependent. Such opinions and prejudices do not come in the way of the full growth of the backward communities either educationally or economically….. It is for them to make necessary efforts for their prosperity. They will naturally receive whatever help is available to all citizens.” (Para vii and viii)
  • Views on caste structure – “We are not blind to the good intentions and wisdom of our ancestors, who built the caste structure. It was perhaps the only way, through which they could teach the nation to forget and rise above racial clan-ship, tribal and similar biological groupings of society and to accept a workable arrangement of social existence based on cultural hierarchy and occupational self-government.” iii
  • Contribution of ‘Upper Classes’ in uplift of weaker sections – He said “It would be well, if representatives of the Backward classes remembered that whatever good they find in the Constitution and the liberal policy of the Government, is the result of the awakened conscience of the upper classes themselves. Whatever Government is doing by way of atonement is readily accepted and acclaimed by the nation as a whole. The upper classes have contributed their share in formulating the policies of the Government Removal of untouchability, establishment of equality and social justice, special consideration for backward classes, all these elements found place in the Constitution without a single voice of dissent from the upper classes.” iv
  • Need to introduce sound system of basic education – “If the backward communities have neglected education it is because they had no use for it. Now that they have discovered their mistakes, it is for them to make the necessary efforts for making the leeway…As far as the assistance in the matter of education for the backward classes, I am convinced that introduction of basic education in all the states with help the backward communities to cultivate self-confidence. They will also have a better chance of succeeding in open competition and having the special advantage of mixing with people and serving them, they will prove themselves better administrators and leaders of society.”v
  •  ‘Services are not meant for the servants but for the service of the society as a whole’ – He also said very clearly, “I am definitely against Reservations in Government services for any community for the simple reason that services are not meant for the servants but for the service of the society as a whole. Administration must have the services of the best men available in the land and this may be found in all the communities. Reservation of post for certain backward communities would be as strange as Reservation of patients for a particular doctor. The patients are not meant to supply adequate or proportionate clientele to all the doctors, whatever be their qualifications.’ vi

Suggestion

Criteria of backwardness other than caste – “It would have been better, if we would determine the criteria of backwardness on principles other than caste.” (Para vii) According to him, “caste test was repugnant to democracy and the objective “to create a casteless and classless society by perpetuating and encouraging caste divisions.” (Para viii)

Kaka Kalelkar concluded that giving an additional weapon in weak hands was no remedy. The remedies the commission had suggested in its main Report were worse than the evil, they were out to combat. In his letter forwarding the Report, Kalelkar remarked, “I am definitely against Reservation in Government Services for any community for the simple reason that services are meant for the service of society as a whole.”

Reference:

Note of dissent, Paras i, iii, iv, v, vi, vii and viii, Report of First Backward Class Commission, 1955.

 

October 26, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

India – One nation, One culture

When you are in the light, everything follows you. But when you enter into the dark, even your own shadow does not follow you.    Hitler

Introduction

India occupies a special place in the global society and Indian civilization is one of the oldest alive civilizations of the world. It presents a fascinating picture of unity amidst diversity, cultural richness, largeness of area and huge population. It has assimilated multi-ethnic migrants into its fold. India comprises people of different ethnic, religious, castes, linguistic and regional identities.

Usually diversity makes divide easy. In India also, there have been periods of discord. However, the forces of unity have always been stronger than the divisive forces. Different identities in India have lived together for centuries and present a mosaic culture.

Factors leading to the unity of India – Important factors, which have kept unity and continuity of India intact, are:

  • Indian philosophy, Vedic literature and its value system – Indian philosophy contains a vast reservoir of knowledge. It is found in  Vedas, Upanishads, Sutras and Smritis. Basham says that Vedic literature contains “an ocean of knowledge in a jar.”

The Vedic literature is a magnificent example of scientific division and orderly arrangement of rules, in a few words, in different branches of human knowledge, covering almost all the aspects of life, be it phonetics, arts, literature, medicine, polity, metrics, law, philosophy, astrology or astronomy.

Indian philosophy and its value system still commands the respect and attention of an average Indian. The priestly schools had devised a most remarkable and effective system of transferring knowledge to succeeding generations in the form of hymns, restricting it only to those, possessing brilliant feats of memory and capability to keep extreme sanctity.

Only after raising oneself from ignorance, a person could be able to understand the greatness of the Indian value system. Like a jeweler, one could spot out gems from amongst worthless pebbles. A knowledgeable person could pick up knowledge and leave the undesired obsolete elements developed in it with passage of time.

 This gold mine of knowledge inspired not only Indians, but foreigners as well. Intellectuals from various countries have translated it in their own languages and reinterpreted it for a rational mind.

  • Doctrines of Varna, Dharma and Karma

The foundation pillars of the Indian civilization are the principles of Varna, Dharma and Karma, which give to the people, a purpose to live for and ideals to be achieved.

Doctrine of Varna gives the Indian Society a stable, sustainable social structure, which distributes and organizes performance of various functions. It has made it possible for the people to lead a quality of life and ensured the continuity despite numerous foreign invasions, migrations and assimilation of various groups.

The doctrine of Dharma defines the duties and vocations for different sections of society, ensures social harmony and prevents rivalries and jealousies.

Doctrine of Karma makes the inequalities, prevalent in the society, tolerable to an average Indian.

Together these principles laid the foundation stones of  Indian social structure and contributed to its growth. It has organized inter-relationship of various groups of society. These principles have given to the people a distinct character. It has defined their roles by distributing various functions and managed the performance to improve quality of life.

In the past, these principles had wisely directed all the activities – social, political, intellectual or economic – into proper life functions and controlled its malfunctioning or dis-functioning. It had made it possible for people to reach a high level of intelligence having specialization in different areas. It contributed to all round growth of cultural heritage and encouraged self-discipline, consciousness, self control and self-direction. Decentralized self-regulated systems were the mode in social, political and economic life in ancient India.

  • ‘Sanatan (eternal) Dharma’ of Hinduism takes care of the basic physical, mental and spiritual needs of the human beings at different stages of life. It nurtures the basic instincts of human beings over nature, after a deep study of natural instincts, inherent attributes and natural behavioral pattern.

It has prepared an atmosphere for co-existence of different groups –  be it ruler or ruled/rich or poor. It has provided unity of culture throughout India and serves to give Indian society coherence, stability and continuity.

  •  Tolerance – The spirit of tolerance and firm belief in the principle, ‘Live and let live’ has always been the part of Indian ethos. Indians believe in ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam’ – The whole world is one family. Truth, Ahimsa, peace and non-aggression are the hallmark of Indian culture. Tolerance is most evident in the field of religion.

Tolerance is not confined to religion alone. It is seen everywhere in the Indian way of life. The people endure injustice and unfairness until they are pushed right to the wall.

John Fischer mentions, “Even during Bengal famine, an extreme situation – when necessity knows no laws, people did not take law in their own hands, nor was there any violence. No grocery stall, no rice warehouse, none of the wealthy clubs or restaurants was ever threatened by a hungry mob… They just died with docility, which to most Americans is the most shocking thing about India.’ Many times in the past, Indians had accepted oppression and exploitation without much protest, while such situations, elsewhere in the world, would have led to bloody revolutions.

Even today, the people are patiently tolerating the criminalization of politics, high-handedness of authorities, corruption, scams and scandals and inefficiency of the administration without much protest. Administration is one such area, where tolerance is harmful, as it not only hinders the development, but also pushes the nation backwards.

  • Validity to all religions – Hindu faith in an all pervading omnipresent god, multiplicity of gods and goddesses as representing some portion of the infinite aspect of the Supreme Being, inspired it to accommodate people of all faiths.

 Hinduism concedes validity to all the religions and does not lay down strictures against any faith or reject any religion or its god as false. That is the reason, why all the twelve major religions of the world are present and flourishing in India without any hindrance.

  • Path of assimilation – Hindu religion neither repulses any trend vehemently, nor allows others to sweep its established culture off its roots. It has adopted the path of assimilation. It does not force others to convert. It does not impose its beliefs, practices and customs on others. In the past, it has assimilated numerous social groups willing to join it.

C. Rajgopalachari said, “If there is honesty in India today, any hospitality, any charity…. any aversion to evil, any love to be good, it is due to whatever remains of the old faith and the old culture”.

Fusion of different cultures

As India passed through various phases in the past, each and every group left its influence on its culture, which came down to the present generation in an unbroken chain of succession, with some modifications and adaptations. All the sects present in India, whether foreign or indigenous, have been influenced greatly by Hindu thinking, practices and systems. Different religious communities also influenced Indian culture.

Following cultures have contributed in enriching the composite culture of India : –

  • Ø The growth, influence and refinement of values of different religions generated within the land of India.
  • Ø The interaction between value-system of indigenous religions of India and religions of diverse migrating or foreign communities like Islam, Christianity, Zorastarianism etc.

Vedic Hindu Culture

Vedic Hindu Culture is one of the oldest living cultures in the world. It mainly originated and flourished in northern parts of India and later on spread throughout India. The word ‘Vedic’ is derived from the word ‘Vid’ meaning ‘Knowledge’ and signifies’ ‘knowledge par excellence’.

The Vedic culture came into being due to intermixing of the culture of Aryan with the culture of indigenous tribal people of India during 2nd century BC to 650 AD. The origin of the Vedic culture can not be traced in any single founder; neither can it be confined in one single authoritative text.

Its knowledge has been handed down from time immemorial, earlier by verbal transmission and later on, in written form by the ancestor to succeeding generations. It has not prescribed final absolutes. It is a constant search for more knowledge. Vedas are not supposed to be the end of quest for knowledge. It is a non-ending process (Neti-Neti).

The strength of Vedic culture is proved by the facts: –

  • Despite centuries of foreign rule over 75% of Indian population remains Hindu.
  • Had it become obsolete, it would have given place to other religions and cultures.
  • It influenced almost all other religions found in India.

Buddhism and Jainism

Budhism and Jainism has influenced the thought, moral and life style of many Indians. Buddhism attracted equally the elite as well as the lower strata of Hindu society. Buddhism drew the attention of people towards the harsher effects of the caste system, sympathetic attitude towards lesser human beings and system of organised education. Major contribution of Jainism is the principle of non-violence.

Dravidian culture

After the sudden disappearance of Indus valley culture, of which the most characteristic feature was its town planning, Dravidian culture with its advanced social system, industry and trade made a mark in the South.

Islamic culture

After the tenth century, Islamic culture influenced the Indian culture substantially. Its influence could be seen in the rejection of elaborate rituals and caste pretensions. It preached a simple path of faith, devotion, brotherly love and fellowship. With the growing political strength of Muslims, the need for mutual understanding and communal harmony gave rise to Sufi tradition of Islam and Bhakti movement of Hindus. Both these emphasized the need for mutual appreciation, tolerance and goodwill. Like Buddhism, Islam also provided an alternative to people, wishing to opt out the caste system.

British Culture 

Eighteenth century onwards, the British culture influenced the Indian culture substantially, especially that of elite and intellectuals. Access to modern education, Western literature and philosophy gave Indians the understanding of liberal and humanitarian ideas of the West.

Some of the contributions of the British to India are political and administrative unity, many democratic institutions like Parliament, bureaucracy and concepts like rule of law, unified nationality, a common currency, a common Judiciary. They gave a new economic structure based on industrialization. British-rule gave an impetus to social progress and brought many reforms.

The British influence on Indian minds was as discussed below: –

  • Many reformers welcomed rationality and other good features of English culture. They advised people to interpret religion rationally and make efforts to eradicate social evils like Sati, child marriage, untouchablity etc. prevalent at that time.
  • Some people were so influenced by the alien culture, that they developed a complex about the primitiveness of Indian society.
  • Some reformists tried to revive their own rich ancient culture and prevent the masses from being swayed away by the glamour and materialism of Western culture. It gave the call for ‘Back to Vedas’.

Two aspects of Hindu culture received a good deal of attention of British: –

  • The Caste system and
  • Reluctance to convert people of other religions, on the ground that all religions are valid.

The British condemned the Caste system, but the later, they enthusiastically applauded.

Hindu, Islam and Christian religions had received substantial state patronage for sufficiently long period.

Assimilation and fusion of different cultures has been a continuous process of the India civilization. A major cultural synthesis took place during 6th and 10th century, between Vedic Hindu culture, Buddhism and Dravidian culture. Another assimilation was seen after the 10th century, when the thinking of Arabs, Turks and Afghan, mainly guided by reason, influenced Indian thought. Sufi and Bhakti movements are examples of this. These two sects taught the people to love and respect all human beings irrespective of caste or creed. These also brought changes in the nature of mutual understanding, communal amity and accommodation.

Once again, during the period between 18th century to 20th century, a major cultural synthesis took place with modernization and industrialization ushered in by the British.

Winding up

Many principles and cultures developed in the past, elsewhere in the world, had created such a wave that swept over the entire world for some time. An anti-wave, replacing such waves, emerged soon. It wiped off the previous influence. The Vedic culture, however, has proved to be an exception in this regard. There had been periods, when the Vedic culture became weak, especially under foreign rules. But it re-emerged every time, and whenever it re-emerged, it did not destroy other sects, it assimilated them within itself.

Despite of having different kinds of diversities, most of the times, the Indian society has been able to develop “an attitude of reconciliation rather than refutation, cooperation rather than confrontation and co-existence rather than mutual annihilation.”

It has happened due to basic tenets of Vedic culture along with tolerance, which are very close to every Indian. The principles of Varna, Dharma and Karma have contributed to the growth of the Indian society as a whole in a systematic way. It has organized orderly performance of various functions needed to provide a quality of life to its people. It prepared an atmosphere for co-existence of different sections of the society – be it ruler or ruled, be it rich or poor. It served to give Indian society coherence, stability and continuity; and held together different castes and communities having diverse languages and practices for generations – thus making unity in diversity a reality.

July 6, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Lost Glory, Civil Services in India

Once upon a time, bureaucracy in India was known for its being ‘the backbone of imperial rule’ and ‘the steel-frame’, on which the whole system of administration depended. Though it mainly served the imperial interests, but it worked efficiently and effectively. Now it has become a ‘spineless’ because of its ineffective way of working. Quite often, it is called contemptuously ‘Babudom’. When, how and why did it lose its past glory is an interesting story.

Need of a bureaucracy – A Government roughly falls into two general processes – I) The process of politics, which consists of the activities of elected representatives of the people and ii) the process of administration to assist politically elected ministers, which consists of the activities of permanent bureaucrats/civil servants. These civil servants are professionally recruited and trained in various disciplines – functional, technical and specialist as well as managerial and generalist such as police force to maintain law and order, a diplomatic service for external affairs, technical services for Public Works Department or Electricity Departments, Railways and Customs etc.

Theoretically the administrative machinery is subordinate to the political arm of a government, but in practice, it plays a very important role. It has become a very potent and vital element of any government all over the world. It is an indispensable part of each and every political system, be it communism or socialism or capitalism. It can exist in a type of society, be it a dictatorial or a democratic society.

To run the administration of a country nicely, a band of capable officers—efficient, prompt, just and sympathetic—belonging to different disciplines of civil services are required. Though they always live behind the scene, but it is the bureaucrats/civil servants, who not only dig expert knowledge from the raw material, but give it a shape with a sense of commitment. Politicians come for a short period and go. It is the bureaucrats, appointed on a long-term basis, who provide continuity in the governance of the nation.

The civil service is, therefore, an indispensable part of any government. Due to its exclusive and specialist nature of work and the need for more expert knowledge in administration for improving the quality of life, the importance of administrative civil services increases day-by-day. In every administrative set-up, there are certain positions or posts, which might be called strategic from the point of view of maintaining the standard of administration.

Evolution of civil services in India 

British have laid down the foundation of many democratic institutions in India including bureaucracy/civil services. It is one of the oldest and most wonderful institutions, the British has bequeathed to India. It has a long historical background and is a product of centuries. It has evolved, slowly but steadily, under the three successive regimes—

  • The East India Company,

  • the Crown and

  • Indian Republic.

                                                    Under East India Company

Employees as traders – The term ‘civil service’, was first used in the late eighteenth century to designate those employees of East India Company. Roughly from 1606 to 1740, its employees, known as ‘Factors’, were managing primarily trading operations, and incidentally administrative work. Notably after Battle of Plassey, its administrative work grew more and more in size. Precisely from 1741 to 1834, the civil servants were entrusted with purely administrative activities.

Consolidated its position – After the annexation of Indian territories, East India Company consolidated its position as a dominant power in India by 1784. The spread of its authority changed the character and role of its employees, from merchants to that of statesmen, from traders to governors, and judges and magistrates. Earlier they were known as ‘writers’.

Tasks and performance during East India Company’s rule – The shape to bureaucracy was given during the regimes of Warren Hastings, Lord Cornwallis and Lord Wellasly. Lord Wellasly (1798-1805) created a corps of specially talented officers —selected from the Commercial services as well as army. These officers were called `pioneers’ and were made responsible for the pioneering task of settling newly conquered areas, making political adjustments, restoring law and order, assessment and collection of land revenue, administration of criminal and civil justice and some of developmental tasks to gain confidence of people.

The administrative structure under East India Company was simple, but effective. Formalities were the minimum. The officers possessed a high sense of responsibility. They developed traditions of character, initiative, imagination, understanding and paternalism. The civil service was not only a career for them, but something which they had built-up, united and administered. They were the spokesmen of its dumb masses and often fought with their superiors for the interest of the people. A civilian of those days said, “They ruled with an iron hand in a velvet glove”.

Responsibilities – In the absence of any fast means of communication, the officers at the district were compelled to take decisions of their own o important matters of policy and administration. The main characteristics of the administration during those days were as follows:

  • Concentration of authority and responsibility in the District Officer who was Magistrate, Collector, and Judge;

  • The area of the district was not so large as to make this undivided responsibility impossible. The District Officer had complete knowledge of his area and people;

  • The administration was based on a set of simple laws and rules, respected Indian Institutions and local customs, so far as they did not clash with the Imperial interest;

                                           Under the Crown (1858-1919)

Golden Period of Indian Bureaucracy – This was the golden period of bureaucracy. From 1858 to 1919,bureaucracy, especially the ICS, attracted best talents of British Society, mostly graduates from Oxford or Cambridge. During this period, the civil services were institutionalized. The whole system, from top to bottom, became well-knit, highly centralised and behaved like an unbreakable steel frame with all the characteristics of a full-fledged Autocracy (M.V. Pylee, Constitutional History of India, 1600-1950, p.28, Bombay, Asia, 1967).

Objectives of British rulers – – In 1858, when the transfer of power from East India Company to the British Crown became a reality, the foundation of the Indian Civil Services were formally laid. Without doubt, higher Civil Services during this period were exclusively made to suit the special needs of British Imperial Power.

The British Government was very clear about its aims and objectives – to maintain law and order, collect revenue and perpetuate British rule in India as long as possible, as India was like a precious ‘Jewel in the Crown’. It aimed to enforce due process of law, collect revenue, to maintain efficiency in all basic matters – crime, land revenue, records of rights and economy ( K.M. Pannikar, “The Development of Administration in India”, Bulletin of Public Administration, Patna, Patna University’s Institute of Public Administration, Vol. II, Nos. 2 and 3, p.14)The British Government in India did not favor its indulgence in any kind of social welfare activity, which would, later on, pose problems for Imperial rule in India. Initiative and actions were the aims to be sought.

ICS propped up as the elite service – ICS responsible for law and order situation and revenue collection was conceived and propped up as the elite service meant predominantly for British citizens. Its members were bestowed with all kinds of authority, favors, concessions and privileges. They exercised and enjoyed immense power and privileges.

Performance of Bureaucracy during Imperial Rule The bureaucracy of this period had developed certain traditions of independence, integrity, and hard work, though these qualities served the British interest. Due to its decisive role, these services, particularly the ICS, came to be called “Steel-frame of the whole structure”, which reared and sustained the British rule in India.

Centralization of Power – Unlike the decentralized administration during the East India Company, growth of rapid means of communication made centralization of administration possible. It not only became rigid in its class structure, but also became bureaucratic in methods and procedure of work. Centralization tightened the regulatory functions of the officials to supervise and control the subordinate officials and made the office procedure elaborate and cumbersome.

Sir William Hunter commented, “He governed most, who wrote most”. Thus came into being multiplication of reports, returns and correspondence and obsession for office work. Routine work and cumbersome office procedures severely affected the power of initiative and enterprise which were found in abundance in the older generation of the civil service. So much so, that those officers, who once wielded the sword so fearlessly began to grumble under the tyranny of pen. (H.K. Trevaskis, Punjab of Today, Vol. II, 1931, p.287)

Whiteman’s superiority” – Though Queen Victoria’s Proclamation of 1858 declared that her subjects, of whatever race or creed, were entitled to be appointed in all her public services, the British Rulers wanted the appointments in superior Services by the dictum of “Whiteman’s superiority” due to its decisive role in the governance of country. Lord Kimberley, the Secretary of State wrote in 1893, “It is indispensible that an adequate number of members of the civil services shall always be Europeans”. Viceroy Lord Landsdown stressed: “The absolute necessity of keeping the government of this widespread empire into European hands, if the empire is to be maintained” (Quoted from Bipin Chandra, p.158, Modern India).

Lord Curzon also justified this policy by stating as follows: “The highest ranks of the civil employee in India, those in the Imperial Civil Service, …. though open to such Indians, ….. must nevertheless, as a general rule, be held by the Englishmen for the reasons that they possess partly by heredity, partly by upbringing and partly by education that knowledge of the principles of government, the habits of mind and vigour of character, which are essential for the task and the rule of India, being a British rule, and any other rule, being in the circumstances of the case impossible. The tone and standard should be set by those, who have created it and are responsible for it”(Supplement to Gazette of India, , p.937, June 4, 1904).

Most efficient and effective civil services in the world – Without doubt, during this period, bureaucracy gradually developed into one of the most efficient and powerful civil services in the world. It developed certain traditions of independence, integrity, and hard work, though these qualities served the British interest. The bureaucracy, particularly the ICS, came to be known as the “Steel-frame of the whole structure”.

Under Dyarchy (1919-35)

Vanishing of idealism of the past – In post 1919 period, as the National movement intensified, the demand for Indianisation of higher civil services increased. Dyarchy promised progressive realization of responsible and self-government in India. India Act of 1935 allowed the continuance of only three All India Services, namely, Indian Civil Service, Indian Police Service and Indian Medical Service (Civil). These services performing control functions were kept under the direct supervision of British rulers. Certain All India Services, particularly, those dealing with service functions were provincialized like Education Service, Agriculture Service, Veterinary Service or services dealing with roads and building etc. Other services were not abolished abruptly or left to die its own death.

With the gradual Indianisation of All India Services, the class consciousness of these services became dim. British element in the service had lost its old sense of mission, was feeling frustrated. It weakened the solidarity of services.

Dampening effect on “The Espirit de Corps”– Indian public and leaders were already allergic to bureaucracy, not on the basis of its actual performance, but because they were a living symbol of foreign rule. Criticism of of the services by individual members in provincial and Central legislatures, the `ignominy’ of working under Indian Ministers in provinces, the non-cooperation movement of 1920-22, the insufficiency of salaries due to high price-rise in the wake of the World War I etc. have changed the character of Indian bureaucracy. It left a dampening effect on the attraction of Civil Services as a career service for British Youth. All efforts to attract them fell flat and the number of British Officers began to decline. They lost their old sense of mission and were frustrated. It is evident from the following chart: –

Period

British

Indian

Total

1919-23

102

80

182

1924-28

77

91

168

1929-33

111

136

247

1934-38

97

122

219

Source: Misra BB. Bureaucracy in India, p292

Indian element in bureaucracy was imbued with a national spirit, looking forward to a day when Indian would be independent. These changes affected the “The Espirit de Corps” of these services.

Breakdown of the spirit of the civil services – Lee Commission (1923) was the first evidence of the breakdown of the spirit of the civil services in India. With the introduction of Dyarchy, the spirit of mild paternalism in them also began to fade. After it, there was no claim that the British Civil Service in India, competent though they continued to be to the end, was anything more than a group of officers doing their work for purely material considerations. The idealism of the past had vanished. (K.M. Pannikar, “The Development of Administration in India”, Bulletin of Public Administration, Patna, Patna University’s Institute of Public Administration, Vol. II, Nos. 2 and 3, p.14).

Under Provincial Autonomy (Post 1935 Period)

Fall in standard of governance – During this period, the ICS officials had lost much of its past authority and therefore, showed a noticeable fall in standards. The period after 1935 witnessed frequent clashes between the Indian Ministers and British officials.

Officials learnt to tolerate elected representatives – Post-1935 period taught the officials to learn to tolerate elected representatives and ministers. Those, who were still thinking in terms of their previous status and authority, took premature retirement. This period witnessed frequent clashes between the Indian Ministers and British officials and former’s helplessness in regard to All India Services.

Further deterioration in standard – Rowland Committee remarked: ‘The present position, in our judgement, is thoroughly unsatisfactory both from the point of view of the district officer himself as well as from the point of view of the efficiency of the governmental machine and welfare of the people in the district…He is expected to see that nothing goes wrong in his district, but he has little power outside. The Magistrate and Collector failed to see that things go right. He is supposed to compose differences between other officers, but he has no power to impose his will upon the recalcitrant. He can cajole and persuade, he cannot compel…In our view, the situation, if left to itself, can only deteriorate further because activities of the government in the mofussil will increase and practically every department is thinking in terms of a “Provincialized service” and makes little attempt to disguise its determination to go ahead with its own plans, without reference to any other part of the government’(Report of the Bengal Administration Enquiry Committee, p. 18, 1944-45).

No radical changes desirable – Report of the Joint Committee on Indian Constitution Reforms proposed that in the early days of `New Order’ and indeed until the course of events in the future could be more clearly foreseen, the new Constitution should not be exposed to risk and hazard by radical changes in the system, which had for so many generations produced men of the calibre (Report of the Joint Committee on Indian Constitution Reforms, Para 286, Vol. I, Part I, 1934).

Only fresh recruitment into these services was discontinued, thus enabling its painless extinction through the natural process of retirement, resignation and causalities of its members.

                                          During Interim Period (From 1947 to 1950)

Designs for Independent India – Many national leaders did not like the idea of building up a new India, the very machinery that was till now hampering and countering the freedom movement should be used. According to them the spirit of authoritarianism of bureaucracy under imperial rule could never co-exist with freedom.

Nation left with no alternative– Immediately after the independence, the nation had no alternative but to leave the things to time. During the last days of British rule, many problems arose, such as communal tension, lawlessness, Railway and Postal strikes, short-supply of goods and the danger of another famine in near future (P. Ramachandran, “Partition Legend”,  p.9, The Hindustan Times, September 1, 1980). This was followed by departure of British and muslim officers from higher services, partition of the country, Pakistan’s incursion into Kashmir and annexation of widely spread conglomeration of provinces and princely states in the Union of India, which made the situation worst at the dawn of independence. Events, invariably unplanned, were moving so fast that there was no question of even attempting to supervise their course.

Sardar Patel’s Foresight – Sardar Patel visualized the whole situation. He insisted on the continuance of same set-up of bureaucracy and assured the nation, “I wish to assure you that I have worked with them during this difficult period. I am speaking with a sense of heavy responsibility and I must confess that in point of patriotism, in point of ability, you cannot have a substitute…I wish to place it on record in this house that if, during the last two or three years, most of the members of the service had not behaved patriotically and with loyalty, the Union would have collapsed. ( Indian Constituent Assembly Debates, pp. 48-50, 1949).

                                        Under Indian Republic (Post 1950)

Changes in the role of bureaucracy

The performance and role bureaucrats, being the product of the same society, depended on changes happening in the social and political scenario around them from time to time. The image, Indian bureaucracy acquired after the independence, was that of effective bureaucracy under the able, sincere and visionary leadership of Patel, Nehru and Pant. Then, some where down the line, things fizzled out and became the committed bureaucracy of 1970s, demoralized bureaucracy of 1977, especially, after the Shah Commission proceedings, insecure bureaucracy of 1980’s and the corrupt bureaucracy after 1990. Personal upbringing, training and discipline has always kept a few of upright and honest officers away from these influences.

In context of free India – Shri C. Rajagopalachari had told the nation right in the beginning that performance of bureaucracy depended on the calibre of officials, who are appointed to its strategic posts. “For any administration to be good and efficient, as a whole, we want right type of men. The quality of men placed in position is more important than laying down of rules and methods of operation”.

This is more true in a large country like India, where there have been perplexing diversities in geography, language, race and culture, which have existed through ages and pervaded every aspect of life. In such a situation, it becomes necessary to evolve some standards and guidelines, whereby the interest of the nation, as a whole, is taken care of.

Pressing problems immediately after the Independence – After Independence many national leaders did not like the idea of building up a new India by the very machinery that was till now hampering and countering the freedom movement. – The main reason for continuation of the same administrative machinery was that during the last days of British rule, there were many pressing problems before the nation. Situation became worst at the dawn of independence because of departure of British and Muslim officers from higher services, partition of the country, Pakistan’s incursion into Kashmir and annexation of widely spread conglomeration of provinces and princely states in the Union of India, which made any drastic change impossible.

Along with it, there were other difficulties too, such an communal tension, lawlessness, Railway and Postal strikes, short-supply of goods and the danger of another famine in near future, arose. Events, invariably unplanned, were moving so fast that there was no question of even attempting to supervise their course. Therefore, the nation had no alternative but to leave the things to time.

Bureaucratic set-up after independence

Without depriving the States of their right to form their own Civil Services, there are many All India and Central Services recruited on an all India basis with common qualifications, with uniform scale of pay, members of which alone are appointed to the all the Strategic Posts throughout the Union. Sardar Patel was very sure that India has no alternative to this administrative system. He said, ‘I wish to place it on record in this house that if, during the last two or three years, most of the members of the service had not behaved patriotically and with loyalty, the Union would have collapsed.’ Civil servants and visionary national leaders built the infrastructure for a new modern India and for its all round development.

Objectives of the Government in free India

Since India became a Republic (1950), the aims, objectives and the role of government changed completely. The Constitution laid emphasis on national reconstruction and development—a shift from the traditional task of only maintenance of law and order and revenue collection. The objectives of the Government were now to launch a massive attach on five major evils of the society—Want, Disease, Ignorance, Squalor and Idleness—and to secure to all its citizens “Justice—social, economic and political”. This change had brought about many new responsibilities pertaining to economic development and social welfare on the shoulders of its civil services. The civil service was supposed to come closer to masses and feel the agony of the millions of underfed, under-read and under-clothed citizens and then design strategies, formulate and execute policies, take right and timely decisions, initiate action and remedial measures for improving the lot of masses and upliftment of the country as a whole.

Role of bureaucracy during Nehru Patel era

During1950’s, the performance of IAS was at the best. It represented one of the finest services in the world. The image, it acquired immediately after the independence, was that of effective bureaucracy under the able, sincere and visionary leadership of Patel, Nehru and Pant. They remained as honest, upright and efficient, as the society around them had been or as their political masters wanted them to be. Higher civil services of government of India represented one of the finest services in the world.

Perfect tuning between leadership and bureaucracy – There was a perfect tuning between the leadership and administration. Together (with the tact and fairness of prominent national leaders and the coordination of able officers) they had solved innumerable pressing problems that came on the way at the dawn of independence. Once, it was decided to continue with the same bureaucratic set-up, the political leadership drew best out of the depleted administrative machinery and inspired it with proper correctives.

Administrators encouraged for ‘Free’ and ‘Frank’ opinion – 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.

Built infrastructure for new modern India – Officials of initial period tried to live up to the high standards set down by British ICS. 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.

Added responsibilities – 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.

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. The sincere efforts, organizing capacity and drive of bureaucracy put India at the tenth rank amongst the nations of the world in terms of industrial out-put by 1960.

Analysis of the role played by bureaucrats in this era – It was not, that everything was all right during this period. The 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.

‘Ivory tower life style’ – The administrators of this period were criticized for their ivory tower life style, which alienated the bureaucrats from common man. However, now it is being realized that ‘ivory tower life style’ prevented bureaucrats from succumbing to outside pressures and helped them to remain honest, upright and impartial. But at the same time, alienation from common man, while on work and therefore, ignorance about the pulse of public started making bureaucracy weaker day by day. Unfortunately, after independence and progressively over the years, higher civil services at the centre began losing its sheen.

Corruption could not be rooted out totally – 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.On the whole, during this period, inner restraint and control had effectively led the officials to preserve the honour and fair name of the service and saved it from getting corrupt or spoiled by outside powerful agencies.

Mrs. Gandhi Era (1965 to 1980)

Era of ‘Committed Bureaucracy’ – The period, from 1965 to 1980 was an era of committed bureaucracy. With many of the old visionary leaders having gone from the national and state scene in the sixties, a rot started setting up rapidly in the administrative set up. During mid sixties, political climate at provincial level started changing.

New regional parties emerged at provincial level – Many new regional parties emerged at provincial level and came to power. Some states like Bihar, U.P., Haryana, and Punjab etc. witnessed political opportunism. Tall promises were made to win elections. Floor crossing, defections, attempts to topple Governments; betrayal of people’s faith and consequently political instability and frequent changes in provincial Governments became the order to the day. All this resulted in intensification of competitive politics. Mrs. Gandhi, after becoming Prime Minister in 1966, felt very insecure due to the hold of syndicate in politics. But she refused to act as a puppet in the hands of the syndicate and, therefore a split in Congress took place in 1969.

Economy of the nation under severe strain – The two wars of 1962 and 1965 followed by successive droughts in 1966 and 1967 put the economy under severe strain. Economic logic and administrative acumen was subordinated to the logic of politics. The developmental activities of the previous years could not keep pace with the challenges facing the country at that time. Concept of easy money started taking birth. The politicians relied more on populist slogans rather than on tackling the real issues troubling the progress of nation like population explosion, illiteracy, inadequate health care and poor social service programs. It led millions to poverty and unemployment.

Attempt to divert public attention from real issues to abstract issues – In order to divert public attention from real issues, abstract issues like social justice, socialism, secularism, communalism were floated in the political world. Government assumed a pervasive role of being the sole guardian of public interest and assumed tremendous authority in the name of socialism. Economic logic and administrative acumen was subordinated to the logic of politics. The developmental activities of the previous years could not keep pace with the challenges facing the country at that time.

Intoxicated political leaders – The absolute authority intoxicated the politicians, making them trample over everything including the democratic institutions – bureaucracy being one of them. The change in the political complexion of the nation was reflected in the performance of Administrative Service and its capacity to work impartially without any fear or favor.

The leaders of that time could not appreciate the value of efficient and impartial civil services and did precious little to check deteriorating standards of the service. The officers were not expected to be as loyal to the Constitution, as they had to be to their respective ministers. Bureaucracy gradually became more committed to the ruling party.

Sense of insecurity – Political upheaval made political leaders very insecure. For her political security Mrs. Gandhi thought it necessary to get complete hold over the bureaucracy. During 1969 to 1974, personality cult was promoted with full force. Politicians desired the bureaucrats to be completely committed to the ministers under whom they were working. Bureaucrats were supposed to be the servicemen to carry out the orders of political bosses.

Power of transfers, posting, and extensions as powerful arm-twisting measures – The simplest of the arm-twisting measures, which politicians took in their hands, was to take the power of transfers, posting, and extensions. It placed the officers at the receiving end. Political patronage gave encouragement to corrupt and ambitious officials. Shrewd officers, who could get away, if any wrong done, were given more importance. Upright officers with some mission and neutral approach had been sidelined.

On a sustained and systematic basis, the process of committed bureaucracy flourished, thus undermining the integrity, values, ethos and confidence of the service. IAS, the service of proven competence and integrity, too found it comfortable to toe the footsteps of the political leaders. They became a willing tool in the hands of politicians.

Bureaucracy lost capacity to be the true agents of healthy change – Earlier, attention was paid to initial training, Departmental examinations in accounts, civil, criminal and revenue laws and varied experience to understand, what happens behind the scenes. The role of senior was crucial, both to impart professional knowledge and also to inculcate proper service values like honesty – intellectual and pecuniary, impartiality in dealing with the rich/powerful and the poor/weak, political neutrality and so on.

Now professionalism of officers depends on amorality – meaning capacity to get done, what superior authorities want to be done and proximity – meaning getting closer to people having authority and position. Right or wrong, presence of laws, rules and regulations were irrelevant to smart officers. During Emergency in 1975, the trusted officers of the Congress Party were placed on crucial positions. Slowly, but steadily the service lost its capacity to be the true agents of healthy change.

Demoralized and insecure bureaucracy of 1980’s

Trend of bureaucrat politicians nexus – For the first time Government officials were made to depose before the Shah Commission for their alleged commissions and omissions during the emergency, sometime around 1080. The blames for failure of system were put on the bureaucracy. It demoralized the bureaucracy. With every change in the Government, there started the trend to shuffle the bureaucrats. It further developed the unhealthy trend of bureaucrat politicians nexus.

Unhealthy developments of 1980’s – During 80’s, terrorism raised its head. Escalated communal problems and economic developments gave rise to economic crimes. BOFORS became a big issue. Transfers, postings, accelerated promotions, suspension, denial of promotions had already bent the civil service to a great extent. Compromises, delays in decision making and shielding unjust acts of political masters by subverting rule of law, flourished in full during this period. One of the leading features was the deep involvement of a core group of civil servants in scandals. The crisis management and cover up operations were undertaken quite unsuccessfully by politicians.

Inter-services rivalry – Apart from being accomplices in politician’s corrupt practices, there was a rise in inter-service rivalries during 1970s and 1980s. Government could not give their due place and proper work atmosphere to its bright technical, scientific and professional personnel in bureaucracy. Their services were and are still required urgently for rapid industrialization and technical progress of the country. Professionals, by their very nature and training, work harder than their generalist counterparts. They are more target oriented in their approach and disciplined. Still they remain far behind their generalist counter-parts in matter of career progression.

Gradual shift in recruitment base – 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. 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.

Hope was belied – 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 commented, “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.(Tyagi, Ibid. p172).The adverse effect on the quality, work-culture and ethos of the service was not felt that much earlier, but in 1990’s groupism in the service became evident and harmed the integrity of the service to a large extent.

The Corrupt bureaucracy (1990’s)

Changes after the fall of Rajiv Gandhi’s Government – The political complexion of the nation underwent a revolutionary change after the fall of Rajiv Gandhis Government and then disappearance of Nehru-Gandhi family from the political scene. The era of instability started. The last time a general election in India producing a clear parliamentary majority was in 1984. Since 1989, the Governments are acutely handicapped by their minority status.

Criminalization of politics– It led first to politicization of criminals, then to criminalization of politics, which made it increasingly difficult for decent, peace loving people to breath freely. Mr. VN Narayan commented on the climate of 1990’s, 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(Times of India,  p1, July 27, 1994).

Transfer-posting Raj – The period between 1975 to the beginning of the 21st century was

the transfer-posting raj in the government. Successive ministers and political parties made it a money minting business. Administrators have lost out by letting the political class prevail. The critical first two decades after the independence were lost and by 70’s and 80’s the political class had come into its own.

Economic offences increased – “A dubious alliance among a section of bureaucracy, politicians and criminals led to the denials of fruits of economic development in the country. This period saw a marked shift in the complexion and scale of economic offences from the rough and tumble of gold smuggling and other merchandise to more sophisticated white collar crimes like bank scams, import andexport fraudsetc.”(Memoirs of Mr. Pande, former director general of DRI and economic intelligence bureau, quoted from TOI N.Delhi, p.14, dt.29.3.2008)

Explosive problems of this period – Instead of plugging the loopholes of the system, political leadership gave importance to electoral gains and losses and to attain political power, with an aim to lead a luxurious life at the cost of public money. The country faced many explosive problems, which made the nation weak and adversely affected the daily life of a common man in many ways. In the absence of any sound ideology and clear vision, the politicians of 1990s depended ideologically on “Caste”, “Community”, and “Political secularism” considerations, in pursuance of sectoral interests and use of power of money and muscle to widen their electoral base.

Polarization of society on caste and communal basis – This period witnessed complete polarization of society on caste and communal basis. Politics of Mandal had divided the society on a permanent basis, which suited the interests of sectional parties well. There are inter-caste and intra-caste, inter-community and intra-community and inter-tribal and intra-tribal conflicts.

Unstable governments – 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 is 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.

Coalition governments – The Governments are formed, not on the basis of popular mandate, but through post election manipulations, unholy alliances, bargaining, horse-trading and give and take principle. Voter turnout in general elections hardly reaches 50% of the total population. It is difficult for any single party to get clear majority. Even the majority party in Parliament, without its alliances, could hardly get 25-26% voters support. A minority party, getting a few seats, forms the Government, with majority party supporting it from out side. Hung Parliament and hung assemblies give power to even marginal regional parties with handful of MPs and MLAs to dictate their terms and conditions to national issues and pursue their sectional plans.

Net result – 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.

“Toe the line” bureaucracy of 21st century

Rot in the steel-frame – The beginning of 21stcentury has seen the steel frame shaking

under political pressure. Transfer has become a powerful weapon in politician’s hands enough to make a bureaucrat compliant. “….Rarely are factors like competence, aptitude, past experience and public spirit taken into account while making appointments to responsible posts. Instead, these attributes are often a disqualification. Pliable functionaries, who are not overburdened with ethics, are handpicked for plum postings.” (Javed Chowdhary, 1965 batch IAS Officer, Quoted from Steel Frame to His Master’s Voice, Sakina Yusuf Khan, Sunday Times of India, New Delhi, May 4, 2003). There is a general acceptance that “toeing the line is better than standing up for principles and paying the price” Bhasker Ghosh (also an IAS Officer, ibid}. One wonder is the new age bureaucrat less idealistic, more pragmatic?

Simple living and high thinking – “In the fifties and sixties, bureaucrats could live comfortably on their salaries. Not any longer. More and more bureaucrats today use the system to make money.”{ A former diplomat G Parthasarthy, ibid}. Attuned to today’s highly competitive and material world, expediency, money and power are the main attractions in life for the youth of the day. Now-a-days nobody believes in the principle of ‘Simple living and high thinking’. The luxuries and comforts of modern materialistic world have lured everybody including the bureaucrats. Now Corruption, casteism and unhealthy competition to get hold of a few influential posts in the corridor of power has corroded the steel frame. Whatever salaries officials get is not enough for them to live the way they want in the modern world. It is one of the reason for increased corruption, casteism and unhealthy competition to get hold of a few influential posts in the corridor of power, so that they can make more money. It has corroded the steel frame beyond repair.

Critical analysis of the present day situation

Disintegration of society – At present, the country is facing caste-communal divide; forward-backward divide, urban-rural divide and division based on class, gender, language and region. The feeling of oneness has almost disappeared with the emergence of many myopic, local regional parties pursuing sectional interest. They, hypocritically shout slogans like, Socialistic pattern of society, Equity, Share in power structure or Secularismetc. which have, more or less, run out of steam all over the world. These abstract ideologies have been proved unable to solve the problems of poverty, overpopulation, deteriorating condition of law and order, violence and general coarsening of the moral fiber of the whole society.

Morale of the service at an all time low – The old values are dying, but the new ones could not be created for the benefit of the society as a whole. It has its adverse effect on bureaucracy, as well. Today, the morale of the service is at an all time low. Mrs. Gandhi started the concept of committed bureaucracy in early 1970’s, except for a few positions, but she usually honored the principle of seniority in making appointments. In the first instance, Rajiv Gandhi overlooked the principle of seniority, when he brought Mr. Kaul as cabinet Secretary, then brought Mr. Deshmukh. After that began the musical chair for higher posts and generally by-passing the seniority-rule.

Blatant use of ‘transfers’, ‘postings’ and ‘extensions’ – Every leader wishes to have his own men in senior positions, so that he could manage his course of action without much resistance. Politicians use the tool of postings and transfers arbitrarily and blatantly, while making senior appointments in the states or the center. With every change in the Government, be it in center of state, there is a shuffle and reshuffle in the bureaucracy. Some IAS officers in the states have been even suspended by the Chief Ministers in recent past. IAS association in UP had passed a resolution in 1997 saying, We are the leaders of the state administration. IAS officers can not be suspended on anyone’s whims and fancies. There is a procedure to follow… It is a simple rule of administration….”. Mr. Narsimha Rao, during his Prime Ministership, started giving extensions, year by year, to chosen officers, so that they could be put under control. Top posts were filled only for a short periods. In his 5 years of Premiership, Mr. Rao had four Cabinet Secretaries. There had been frequent changes in the position of Secretaries also.

Adverse effect on Work culture’ – The trend of having a following of one’s own in the service and giving plum postings to one’s loyalists has mortgaged the national interests. It led the nation to chaos, criminality and corruption. It has adversely affected the work culture. The Vohra Committee has vividly described the nexus that has developed between unscrupulous politicians, corrupt bureaucrats and criminals. The appointment of tainted officers at crucial positions itself makes the intentions of the politicians clear. It has also been felt that young recruits are acquiring more and more skills but are deficient in understanding and attitude.

Misappropriation of public funds – Corruption and misappropriation of public funds was always there, but not so rampant, as has been witnessed after 1990. The corruption has deeply entrenched into the system and become its integral part. It has acquired a kind of legitimacy, as a price to be paid for “Getting a job done in the Government and saving citizen’s Time, energy and money. Otherwise, one has to run from pillar to post to get a job done.

Liberalization – Liberalization was meant to ease government control on economy and reduce corruption. Unfortunately, it hasn’t worked out as desired. Numerous scams and scandals rocked the nation after 1990, like Bank Security Scam, Telecom Scam, Jain Hawala Scam, Bihar Fodder Scam, Petrol Pumps allotment Scam, House Allotment Scam, Public Service Commission’s scam in appointments (April, 2002) etc. These are the direct consequences of the nexus between the politicians and the bureaucrats. Most glaring were –

  1. Harshad Mehta Scam (1992) – The loss to banks was put at about Rs 5,000 crore. Till now (2011) banks are trying to recover what they can from the inheritors of Mehta.

  2. Enron Scandal (1992) – Dabhol power project of the US energy major in Maharashtra was always controversial. In late 2001 it came to light that Enron had for years concealed debt and overstated profits. The energy giant went bankrupt and several executives, including CEO Keneth Lay were convicted on many counts in 2006.

  3. Telecom Scam (1996) – In 2009, former telecom minister Sukhram was convicted by a Delhi court of accepting bribes to grant licences and purchase equipment from companies during 1993-96 tenure at the centre.

  4. Ketan Parekh Scam (2001) – The stockbroker was accused of engineering mayhem in the market. Parekh was banned from the capital markets for 14 years.

  5. Telgi scam (2003) – (Counterfeited stamp paper) Telgi allegedly had links with several officials anf politicians.

  6. Koda Scam (2009) – Jharkhand CM 2006-08, allegedly made Rs. 4,000 crore through graft, including grant of mining licenses, and illegally invested it in real estate, shares and other avenues in Mumbai, Kolkata, Thailand and even a coal mine in Liberia.

  7. Satyam Scam (2009) – It has falsified its accounts and diverted money to fund real estate transactions. Raju was arrested and is facing prosecution for a scam estimated at Rs 7,000 crore.

  8. 2G Scam (2010) – The award of spectrum to new telecom licenses in 2007 at 2001 prices sparked off a controversy. The CAG later held that the loss to the exchequer could be up-to Rs 1.76 Lakh crore.

Playing safe attitude of upright bureaucrats – Sincere and honest officers have lost interest in their work. They do not have much to loose, so long as they play safe, do as little as possible, take no risk, display no initiative and refer everything to the minister that involves taking important decisions. Many bureaucrats adopt the line of least resistance, though off and on, they are being criticized for their non-performance. Due to excessive political interference in day to day administration, the upright officers try their best to escape from district postings, where they are in direct contact with the public.

Adverse affects of frequent transfers and postings – For sustainable development, a bureaucrat needs a reasonable tenure in one post. In order to do justice to his work and to get a grip over the situation, one needs time to understand the atmosphere, to plan, to supplement it and to see the results. With politicization of services and tenure being increasingly insecure, offices work on the principle of short-term measures, which could yield quick results.

Senior’s support – Earlier during difficult situations a bureaucrat could depend on his seniors for help or advice. Now seniors, themselves being insecure, can not give support to their juniors. Failure to get seniors support at crucial moments further dips the morale of young and enthusiastic officers.

Career progression – At present, for moving ahead in career, competence or seniority carry much weight. It is not good enough to have right political connections, but also needs to belong to the right caste. After 1990, the card of Reservation and representation of Backwards in higher bureaucracy has been overplayed.

Politics of Reservations – A good governance is based on a delicate balance of relationship between multiple cultural communities. The politics of Mandalisation has destroyed inter cultural balance and harmony. Reservation is being used for political expediency. It has diluted the standards and integrity of the service as a whole. The poison of groupism and casteism has spread in the elite service as well. Praful Bidwani says,Social conservatism, casteism, communalism and provincialism are more apparent today in the services than in the past(Praful Bidwai, p15, Times of India, July 23. 1995).

Criminalization of politics – Some of the criminals, under-world Dons have joined the politics. They mix up freely with the bureaucrats and politicians. Mutual support is there to shield each others guilt, wrong practices and corrupt behavior. Given decline in character and morale of politicians and confusion about their objectives, the only role left for the service is to defend the deeds or misdeeds of the ministers before Parliament, Legislatures and public by twisting the arms of law in their favor. The high IQ, decline in value, expediency being the order of the day, this disastrous combination tends many bureaucrats to connive with politicians and others, whose only concern is to further their own interest and to benefit their kin and loyalists.

Perception of people about the bureaucracy of 21st century

People think that the present bureaucracy has developed some undesirable features like personal loyalty, dependent thinking, superfluous functioning, hierarchical thinking, distrust and class thinking. Its feudal framework, its tuning in British class discipline and its chaining in socialist ideology, prevent it to exhale the fragrance of free administration of a free state. Officers are inaccessible to people, resist changes, and favor status quo. They are obstructionist, inefficient and obsessed with the rulebooks, precedents and procedures. They hesitate to shoulder responsibilities for their actions. They either blame the political leadership or other technical or professional services in case of any wrong done. The decline in the standards of performance of bureaucrats can be seen in: –

 Acute law and order situation in the country, which includes Criminalisation of social and political activities,

 Half-hearted implementation and monitoring of developmental plans and policies resulting in increased number of illiterates, poor and unemployed.

 Impediments in the successful implementation of the new economic policy.

Who is to be blamed?– Most of the bureaucrats are not attuned well to the culture of creativity, dynamism, liberalism and progress, which needs open-mindedness, tolerance for listening to other’s ideas and views, giving dissent a chance, having a sense of responsibility, imagination, honesty and confidence. Majority of people blame present politicians for such a deterioration of the bureaucracy. Political parties have conditioned today’s atmosphere in such a way, that upright officers are identified very soon after joining the service and are sidelined. Key posts are given usually to ‘committed’ officers. Every change in power structure – at the centre or the state- follows mass transfers and placement of pliable officers on crucial posts.

Bureaucracy itself responsible for such a sad situation – Some people feel that it is not fair to blame the political leadership solely. The over-ambition of officers has incited the politicians. They themselves sought political interference to get desired postings and transfers. Now the politicians have learnt the tricks and interfere in administrative work, whenever and where-ever it suits them well. Disregard for merit, bloated size of the service, insecurity and changes in values have added fuel to the gradual decay of the service.

Humiliating situation for bureaucrats – Never before, the powerful bureaucrats faced humiliation and devaluation of its role and significance, as in the recent past. Ex-Minister Kalp Nath Rai, annoyed with his secretary went up to the extent of saying, Bureaucrats are just like servants… Chaprasis, who bring water, when you tell them to. They should not be allowed to act on their own. The Ministers today follow the dictum, Satisfy me, I will satisfy you.

Bureaucracy not supposed to play a secondary role –It is not fair for the elite government services to toe the lines of politicians and play a secondary role in the matter of administration, as they have Constitutional protection. There was a time, when officers could gather courage to resist irrational demands of politicians. During the times of Kairon, the Chief Minister, a chief secretary could tell Sir, you are elected, I am selected. But now in order to avoid confrontation, an officer finds it easier to provide rationale for a decision taken by the political boss.

Distracted the cream of the society to join government services – The suffocating atmosphere in the government services has distracted bright young people to join the government. They either join private sector especially information technology area or go abroad, where they get recognition for their talent, respect in their circle, atmosphere to work and handsome salaries with many perks and facilities as well as command prestige in the modern industrial world because of their calibre.

Usually, when young men join the service, they are full of enthusiasm to meet the challenges and to do something positive and creative. But the realities of life, political and bureaucratic culture evaporate their enthusiasm soon. Circumstances teach them to compromise their neutrality, creativity and professionalism. Those unable to do so, find the atmosphere stifling and unresponsive. The dream of visionary Sardar Patel of apolitical Indian Administrative Service has been throttled by the present day political leaders because of their vested interests.

Winding up

There is decline over the years in the quality, competence and commitment of the officers. In-discipline, violence and lawlessness are increasing every day allover the country. The task of governance has become very difficult. People wonder, why the steel-frame of yesteryears has been corroded to such an extent that it is failing to do its job effectively and judiciously despite having a constitutional status with enough powers to deal with unwanted situations. They are surprised why these officers could not take stand against those dictates of their superiors (political leaders or bureaucratic superiors) which stops them from doing their jobs judiciously.

Way out

The only way to get out of such a depressing situation is to form a slim and trim bureaucracy as suggested by Parthasarthy. A smaller bureaucracy with a smaller role, greater transparency should be set up and there should be a statutory Civil Service Board to control postings, promotions and transfers.

It is not fair for the bureaucrats to toe the lines of politicians and play a secondary role in the matter of administration, as they have Constitutional protection. Besides their task to work without any fear, favor, undue pressures or political interference has been made easy these days in the presence of vigilant mass media.

Many persons from intelligentsia are still hopeful that, despite all the weaknesses, the bureaucracy, which had helped the political leadership in transforming the British colonial Government with a democratic republic, met successfully the challenges of resurgent India and laid the foundation of modern India and recently pulled the nation out of the great economic depression could still perform miracles with the help of a few really brilliant officers. There are still few bureaucrats, who are committed, idealist and hardworking. They, along with some more sitting on the fence, could successfully meet the challenges of 21st Century. They only need once again, the sincere and committed leadership, which could understand their position and allow them to function judiciously.

(Fundamental causes of the deterioration of bureaucracy to be discussed in my next post – “Ailments of Present bureaucracy”)

July 4, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Resume of Dr. Lata Sinha

At present

Permanent member of AIWC since 1978 –  an NGO working for education, enlightenment and empowerment of women since 1927.

Member-in-charge A.I.W.C. from 2013 to March 2017. Edited and published five Newsletters for AIWC, which were circulated all over India – the branches of AIWC and concerned Government Officials.

Managing Trustee of ‘Bhagwati Dayal Scholarship fund Trust (private) from1977 to 2000. It gives financial help to about 40-50 poor Kayastha students, widows, and poor students taking up professional courses irrespective of caste or creed.

Participation in International Conferences

  • 2013 – Attended Conference organized by International Women’s League, held in Lincoln Hall, London.
  • 2014 –UN/CSW 59 – In New York
  • 1992 – Triennial Conference of International University Women’s Association, held at Stanford University, USA. Invited as Workshop Leader on “Role of Home-wives in Nation-building”.
  • 1978-1979 – Annual Extension Lectures Certificate on cotemporary international issues, Organized by JNU School of International Studies

6 Research Experience

  • 1989-98 – Part-time Research Associate (University Grants Commission, India) for post-doctoral work on the theme “Reservations in India administrative Service”. Under the supervision of Dr. R.B Jain, then the head of the Department, Political Science, Delhi University, Delhi.
  • 1978 to 1986 – For Ph.D. in political Science from Allahabad University in on “Education and training of higher civil services”, under the guidance of Dr. H. M. Jain, then the head of the department of Political science Department, Allahabad, University.
  • 1975 – Fellow, Indian Institute of Constitutional and Parliamentary Studies, prepared research paper on ‘Judicial Review and 42nd Amendment act,( written during Emergency period, declared by Indira Gandhi’s Government in 1975) under the supervision of Retired Law Secretary to Government of India (An ICS officer)
  • 1975 – Research paper on “Civil Services in India” for Diploma certificate, awarded by Indian Institute of Constitutional and Parliamentary Studies.

8, Award-winning Essays

  • !972 – “Democratic Values and Indian Society” by Indian Institute of Constitutional and Parliamentary Affairs,
  • 1992 – “Role and Rationale of All India Service” in1992 by Indian Institute of Public Administration, and
  • 1992 – “Reservation Policy (Affirmative Action Program) in India” by Lala Lajpat Rai Memorial Society.
  • 1991 – ‘Role of Housewives in Nation-Building’ selected by Geneva office of ‘Federation of International University Women’.
  1. Academic qualifications
  • 1988 –  (Top-position in 1988 batch of 40 students) Post-graduate Diploma Certificate in translation, New Delhi Evening Institute of Delhi. Organized by Bharti Vidya Bhavan in Translation,
  • 1986 – Ph. D., Allahabad University, India.
  • 1963 – Post-graduation in Political Science from Allahabad University
  • 1961 – Bachelor’s degree (Political Science, Hindi Literature and Vocal Music) from Allahabad University.

May 9, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Weaknesses of Indian bureaucracy

 Introduction 

“For the forms of government, let fools contest.

That which is best administered is best.”

   “But what is best must free man still decide.

Lest leaders gull them and officials ride.” Finer

And also

“Bureaucracy is a giant mechanism operated by pigmies.” V. Hon0re De Balzac

British Government the institution  bequeathed to India – The institution of civil services in India is the oldest and most wonderful institution the British Government had bequeathed to India. British rule had evolved the institution of civil service as an efficient, professional and to a great degree incorruptible organization. It was popularly known as ‘‘the Steel Frame’ of British administrative structure”, Fortunately India, along with Pakistan, has inherited from the past, a unique administrative system, which knows, what these strategic posts are and who are the persons to hold them.

Thousands of employees in Administrative set-up – Government of India employs up (civil services/bureaucracy) from almost all vocations, occupations and professions. Government makes all feasible administrative, organizational and working atmosphere arrangements for its employees. The administrative system is vertically and horizontally divided in order to meet the differing requirements and emerging developmental tasks.

The higher civil service is one of very important government institutions for solving nation’s problems. The more the problems, better equipped the civil service should be to face the challenges and meet new demands.   Not only that new responsibilities are being continuously, added to the traditional tasks of the civil services, knowledge in this space age, has been growing faster than ability of the services to handle it. Therefore, it is a must to select the best talents in the bureaucracy and equip them properly by imparting new knowledge and new skills and to inculcate new attitudes in the civil services through a well-planned and systematic arrangement of education and training.

Best talents –  Officers of  civil services of government of India are selected by UPSC through a competitive Combined All India/Civil Services examination every year.  It is one of the toughest entrance examinations. In order to employ best talents in the services, every year UPSC conducts a common civil services examination (CSE) for to select personnel for many services under government of India like Indian Administrative Service (IAS), as well as for other non-IAS services like IFS, IPS and other central services for different departments like Revenue, Railways, Audit and accounts Services, civil services and Police Service for Delhi, Andaman & Nicobar Islands, Lakshadweep, Daman & Diu and Dadra & Nagar Haveli , Pondicherry.

For civil services examination 2015, 9.41 lakh students registered, out of which 4.6 took preliminary test. Of it 15,008 (+1415 for Indian Forest Service Exam.) 3,308 were further shortlisted for personality test. Finally 1,236 (3.5% candidates)were appointed to the 24 services that come under Civil Services.

IAS propped up as the Elite service – During British rule, ICS was propped up as an elite service. Its officers in their early twenties would arrive to India after being trained at Cambridge or Oxford to rule single-handedly a district half as big as Wales. They were responsible for maintaining law and order and revenue collection.

Now IAS officers have wide-ranging authority in districts as collectors. and at centre as policy-makers. They have-

  • Have easy accesses to levers of power.
  • Are symbol of power – dealing directly with Ministers at centre and provinces.
  • Have smoothest career-progressions. And
  • Occupy almost all senior-most posts at centre and States.

Issue

One wonders why the steel-frame of yesteryears has failed to do its job effectively and judiciously, despite having a constitutional status with enough powers to perform their duties freely and frankly. Inefficient and ineffective performance of Bureaucracy/civil services by and large has affected the lives of millions of people. Now sarcastically, people call bureaucracy as ‘babudom’ and bureaucrats as ‘Glorified Babus’.

Why does not bureaucracy take a stand against the unjust dictates of political leaders or corrupt senior officers, who stops them from doing their jobs judiciously? Why and how civil services in India got derailed is a point to ponder. What were the reasons behind ineffective and inefficient performance needs to be analysed.

ICS, the “Steel-frame of governance” during British rule  – “It always puzzled many bigwigs like Stalin, von Ribbentrop and many other foreign observers, namely how barely a thousand British ICS (Indian Civil Service) personnel managed to rule both British India and the princely states with a combined population of well over 300 million during the first part of the twentieth century. Very few statesmen, from Bismarck to Theodore Roosevelt, doubted the quality of British rule, and, in a fascinating episode, when Subhas Chandra Bose, the leader of the rebel Indian National Army, flew to Berlin during the Second World War to solicit help from Hitler, the Fuehrer dismissed him, taking the view that Indians needed “to be civilized by another hundred years of British rule.” “How was the Indian Empire administered with such apparent zeal, efficiency, high-mindedness and impartiality?

“Gilmour comes to the sensible conclusion that the men of the ICS displayed a mixture of motives, skills and temperaments. A number of individuals were ‘coming to the institution through stiff competition, not the other way round’. Often a District officer in his early twenties would arrive fresh from his ICS training at Oxford to rule single-handedly a district half as big as Wales. The wide ranging responsibilities of the District Officers of the ICS were responsible for almost everything.

Structure of the civil service – The structure of the service started from the District Officers to the Magistrates, Residents, Political Agents, Deputy Collectors, Lieutenant Governors, and so on. (From Rup Narain Das, titled ‘Marx and 1857’, published in TOI, P.22, 16.5.07, excerpts quoted from an article of Gilmour on Marx, June July 15, 1857 in New York Daily Tribune as a leading article)

The ICS – ICS (Indian Civil Service) called ‘steel-frame of administration’  Lloyd George, the British Prime Minister in his historic “Steel-frame” speech, said it very clearly on Aug.2, 1922 in the House of Commons that British civil servants were the very basis of the Empire in India and so he could not imagine any period, when they could dispense with the guidance and assistance of a small nucleus of the British civil servants. He said, “I do not care, what you build on it, if you take that Steel-frame out of the fabric, it will collapse. There is only one institution, we will not cripple, there is one institution, and we will not deprive of its functions or of its privileges and that is that institution, which build up the British Raj – the British Civil Service in India.”

What made ICS so strong and efficient?  – What made ICS was strong enough to rear and sustain British rule in India for such a long time? Some of the reasons were as  was because –

  • Family background – Most of them belonged to British professional middle classes.
  • Educational background – They had made smooth progression from school to Oxford or Cambridge.
  • Sense of responsibility – The ICS, whatever its complexion might have been, had developed traditions of independence, integrity, and hard work. They had deep sense of responsibility. However, these qualities served mainly the British rulers and not so much the Indian masses. They had full freedom and opportunity to do something worthwhile.
  • Work atmosphere – So far as it did not jeopardized the Imperial interests, ICS officers thought it their duty and took it as a challenge to provide, “Care, protection and guidance” ultimately liberty to the people, they ruled (Times of India, August 10, 1997, p2). Mr. Lines, an ex- ICS officer, said, “I suppose, we thought of a simple Indian villager… Here are simple people, who need leadership.” Mr. Arthur, another ex ICS officer, said, “Their attitude, certainly was paternalistic, which was necessary in a colonial administration.”
  • Bright career prospects – Extremely generous salaries and quick promotions.
  • Slim and trim service – just over a thousand at any given time – made for a strong sense of service loyalty.
  • Esprit-de’-corps – Philip Maser said that there was esprit-de’-corps amongst the officers. Lines pointed out, “It is the Esprit de’corps, which served to enforce a strong moral code.” It did not need to be articulated. Every body knew it.
  • Honesty – Clive Dewey said that the historical evidence pointed out to only a minute handful of officers being corrupt. It was partially their salaries, partly their background, partly their sense of duty and partly ivory tower, in which they lived, which made any rumors extremely uncomfortable (Dr. Clive Dewey, Anglo Indian attitudes, 1993).

Balance of Power – Illbert Bill controversy indicates that White bureaucrats were not at all prepared to share administrative powers with Indians, in spite of all the official declarations of 1833, 1858, 1861, 1892 and 1909.  When the demand for the participation of Indian nationals at higher levels of administration increased, the dominance of Brahmins in administration, though mainly at lower level, had cautioned the rulers. They regarded Brahmins as the main force behind the entire national movement, agitations and terrorist activities. Therefore, British rulers tried their best to balance the power in such a way, that no section of Indian society could become strong enough to pose a threat to its rule in India. British rulers managed it by adopting the following measures –

  •  Propped-up other sections of society against Upper-castes – The British thought it necessary to keep a balance of power by propping up other sections of the society in order to stop the preponderance of Brahmins and forward castes in modern callings.
  • Divide and rule – They divided Indian population, through censuses, into different groups, i.e. upper castes, backward castes, scheduled castes, scheduled tribes and minorities.
  • Start of quota system – To counter Brahmin’s dominance in administration, the British designed Reservation Policy. They fixed up quotas in government jobs for different sections on the basis of caste, community, occupation, religion etc.
  • Separate representation and preferences to non-Brahmins -Through the Acts of 1909, 1919 and1932 the rulers provided separate representation to different communities in Legislative Councils and Assemblies. The rulers bestowed special benefits and preferences in education and jobs for different upcoming groups.
  • ICS remained untouched from preferential treatment till end – Though the British Government gave preferential treatment to upcoming groups in government jobs, British rulers kept the ICS untouched from the quota system till the last. They firmly and clearly said to the upcoming groups that they wouldn’t weaken their Steel frame at any cost for any body, as on it depended, efficient governance of the country.  It was told the upcoming groups in clear terms, “With its utmost desire to do so, the best for these classes, the Government will be and is powerless to help them, unless they qualify themselves to the same extent as others of their countrymen for duties of administration and public (Times of India Archives, May 3, 1918).

Breakdown of the spirit of the civil services in India – With the intensification of national movement and introduction of Diarchy, the downfall in the quality of work began to fade. Pannikar says, “The Lee Commission (1923) was the first evidence of the breakdown of the spirit of the civil services in India, for after that there was no claim, that the British Civil Service in India, competent though they continued to be to the end, was anything more than a group of officers doing their work for purely material considerations. The idealism of the past had vanished” (Pannikar KM, The Development of Administration in India, Bulletin of Public Administration, Patna, Patna University’s Institution of Public Administration, vols. 2 and 3, p14.)

The Rawland Committee remarked, “The present position, in our judgment, is thoroughly unsatisfactory both from the point of view of the district officer himself, as well as, from the point of view of the efficiency of the governmental machine and welfare of the people in the district…. He is expected to see that nothing goes wrong in his district, but he has little power outside. The Magistrates and Collectors failed to see that things go right. He is supposed to compose differences between other officers, but he has no power to impose his will upon the recalcitrant. He can cajole and persuade, he can not compel… In our view, the situation, if left to itself, can only deteriorate further, because activities of the Government in the mofussil will increase and practically every department is thinking in terms of Provincialized Service and makes little attempt to disguise its determination to go ahead with its own plans, without reference to any other part of the Government” (Report of the Bengal Administrative Enquiry Committee, 1944-45, p18).

Transfer of power – In 1935, with the intensification of the nationalist movement, supported by Indian National Congress Party and growing demand for greater Indian participation in Government and its administration at higher levels, the Colonial rulers delegated some authority to the provinces. They were aware of the consequences of delegation of authority to the provinces. Therefore, they transferred to the Provincial Governments only the authority to manage the services engaged in service-functions and kept ‘control functions’ i.e. maintaining law and order and revenue collection in their own hands. Ultimately in 1947, India got its freedom as an independent country.

After independence

Civil services after the Independence  – With the attainment of Independence and adoption of socialist and egalitarian society as ultimate national goals, the demands on administration had undergone a qualitative change. The basic task of administration changed from one of attending to routine regulatory function to that of promoting a rapid socio-economic changes. Bureaucracy was now expected to play a significant role in administrative and developmental work of the Government.

Dreams of constitution-framers – The forefathers of the Constitution realized the importance of civil services in order to ensure good governance to the country and providing the safety of the nation. Mr. MV Kamath said, “With the independence of our country, the responsibilities of the services have become onerous. It may make or mar the efficiency of the machinery of administration, machinery so vital for the peace and progress of the country. A country without any efficient Government service can not make progress in spite of the earnestness of the people at the helm of affairs of the country. Whatever democratic institutions exist, experience has shown, that it is essential to protect public services as far as possible from political and personal influence and to give it that position of stability and security, which is vital in its successful working, as an impartial and efficient instrument, by which Government of whatever political complexion may give effect to their policies” (Constituent Assembly Debates, Vol. IX, p585).

Mr. Subharajan said during Constituent Assemble debates, “Without an efficient civil service, it would be impossible for the Government to carry on and continuity to be kept. The importance of the Governmental administration has been in the fact that there is continuity and unless this continuity, there is chaos” (Constituent Assembly Debates, Vol. IX, p952).

Vallabh Bhai Patel in his letter to the Prime Minister wrote, “I need hardly emphasize, that an efficient, disciplined and contended (civil) service, assured of its prospects as a result of diligent and honest work, is a “Sine-quanan” of sound administration, under a democratic regime, even more than under an authoritarian rule. The (civil) service must be above party and we should ensure that political consideration, either in its recruitment or its discipline and control, are reduced to the minimum, if not eliminated altogether” (Patel Vallabh Bhai in a letter to Mr. Nehru).

After Nehru’s midnight hour speech between 14th and 15th August 1947, Dr. Radhakrishnan warned the nation, “Our opportunities are great, but let me warn you that when power outstrips ability, we will fall on evil days. We should develop competence and ability, which would help us to utilize the opportunities, which are now open to us. A free India will be judged by the way, in which it will serve the interests of the common man in the matter of food, clothing, shelter and social services.”

Need of efficient employees in administration – Civil services in Independent India Independent India required that the civil administration at every level must be equipped with officers having the capacity to meet various challenges of the modern India. The success of government’s welfare and developmental plans would depend largely upon the efficiency of its administrative cadres.

Attraction for the youth – Jobs in the Government have always remained an attraction for the youth. Entry into IAS and central services are the most sought-after jobs for students as it provides the highest entry point in bureaucracy. Government employs officers on various responsible posts after being successful  in a well-planned entry competitive examination and then go for rigorous professional training in different training institutions. making processes and their implementation work.

IAS (Indian Administrative Service), the successor of ICS after Independence After independence, Indian Administrative Service (IAS) was created as the successor of ICS, which was till now a reputed, efficient and powerful service.  IAS is now an elite service meant predominantly to be engaged in control functions of Indian provinces. political circle. up of the nation.

Functions of the civil services – The civil administration, whether in Centre or in State, can be divided into two groups:

• Working in the Secretariats – Policy making body;

• Working in field organisations – for implementation of policies and plans.

Working at Secretariat level – Working in the Secretariat exposes the officers to policy perspective in diversified subjects like agriculture, horticulture, power, coal, transport etc. The work in Secretariat requires bright officers having experience and knowledge in relevant areas. The IAS officers on deputation from different states occupy most of the senior posts in Central Secretariat. In the State Secretariats also, it is the IAS Officials, who are posted on the top posts in almost every department.

Following are important functions at the level of Secretariat: –

  • Obtaining decisions on policy matters and enunciating policy decisions in clear language,
  • Overall planning and finance,
  • Legislative business,
  • Personnel management policies,
  • Legal advice,
  • Coordination and cross clearance among the administrative departments, in the Secretariat,
  • Communication with central institutions like the Planning Commission etc., and
  • Overall evaluation, supervision, control and coordination of the work being done by the field organizations.

Administration at field level – The district administration occupies a key position. ‘District Collector’ continues to play a pivotal role in the District Administration. District is the most convenient geographical unit, where the total apparatus of Civil Administration is concentrated and where officials come into direct contact with the people. Its importance arises from the fact, that it is at this level, that bulk of people gets affected, favorably or adversely by the governmental policies, programs and its implementation. It is here, that people judge the quality and efficiency of the governmental administration. It has regulatory as well as developmental tasks.

The first five or six years of service in the state are crucial for all IAS officers. During this period, they go on field postings at district level to get the feel and first hand knowledge of real life and social realities. These postings open up the minds of young officers, by bringing them into direct contact with administrative life, with people at grass-root level, with their concrete problems and with different human and social conditions prevailing there. They get acquainted with the administrative structure in the district and the relationship between various branches of Government at district headquarters.  The experience of field work enriches officials with a variety of experiences and makes them ripe for senior positions.

Besides for collection of revenue and maintenance of law and order, District collector is responsible. He also coordinates activities of various departments at district level. A collector enjoys immense power and prestige at district level.

Both kinds of work at district and in headquarter equally important – Work at Secretariat and work in the field have their distinctive challenges. For efficient performance of work in both the areas, there is need for really bright and talented officers. Corrosion of the ‘steel-frame’ after Independence With many of the old visionary leaders and bureaucrats having gone from the national and state scene in the sixties, a rot started setting up rapidly in the administrative set up.

Problems of the day

Fall in the standard of governance – After Independence the bureaucracy  has started shaking under its own pressure.  Undesirable political pressure on it increased continuously. With the result that bureaucracy in India has now appears to be unable to meet the challenges of the day and has become an ineffective and powerless institution. administration.

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. The era of instability started. Mr. VN Narayan commented on the climate of 1990’s, “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 Mandalization). 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” (Narayanan VN, Hindustan Times, June 1, 1995, p13).

Bureaucrats known as ‘Babus’ –  Since beginning of 21st century, there is decline over the years in the quality, competence and commitment of the administrative officers. Rarely are factors like competence, aptitude, past experience and public spirit taken into account, while making appointments to responsible posts. Instead of known as Government officials, the bureaucrats are called ‘glorified clerks’ and bureaucracy as ‘babudom’.

Most of the bureaucrats find it more convenient to toe the line of political leaders rather than standing up for principles and paying the price for it.  The situation has led to the nexus that has developed between unscrupulous politicians, corrupt bureaucrats and criminals, as Vohra Committee has vividly described it. The appointment of tainted officers at crucial positions itself makes the intentions of the politicians clear. ism has corroded the steel frame.

Reasons , that made the difference – Reasons for derailing the whole administrative system are very simple, which are as following –

  • Intake of the material

Before Independence – Then, during British rule, the British Government was very particular about the intake of the material into its elite service. The British, according to their aims and objectives, pursued the policy of racial discrimination on the dictum of “White-man’s” superiority for the appointment in ICS. For a long time, the Indians were virtually prohibited to join this service intentionally. The rulers never wanted to give Indian any control over the governance of the country. Lord Lytton, in his confidential document, confirmed that the pledge of the Royal proclamation of 1858 was never intended to be carried out. He said, “We all know that these claims, expectations never can or will be fulfilled. We have had choose between prohibiting them (Indians) and cheating them, we have chosen the least straightforward course.” (Annie Besant, How India wrought for freedom, p420)

Lord Kimberley, the Secretary of State, laid down in 1893; “It is indispensable, that an adequate number of members of the Civil Service shall always be European.” Viceroy Lord Landsdown stressed “Absolute necessity of keeping the Government of this wide-spread empire into European hands, if that empire is to be maintained.” (Bipin Chandra, Modern India, p158) In 1867, Lawrence said very (clearly, “We have conquered India by force of arms, though the policy and good Government have already aided us. In the like manner, we must hold it. The Englishmen must always be in the forefront holding the post of honor and power, as the condition of our retaining of our rule.” (Tara Chand, History of Freedom Movement in India, p497)

In Home Department Resolution of May 1904, Lord Curzon’s Government justified the policy, they were pursuing with regard to “White-man’s superiority” in Civil Service. “The highest ranks of the civil employees in India, those in the Imperial Civil Service, the members of which are entrusted with the responsible task of carrying on the general administration of the country, though open to such Indians, who proceed to England and pass the requisite tests, must nevertheless, as a general rule be held by the Englishmen, for the reason that they possess partly by heredity, partly by upbringing and partly by education that knowledge of the principles of Government, the habits of the mind and vigor of character, which are essential for the task and the rule of India, being a British rule and any other rule being in the circumstances of the case impossible. The tone and the standard should be set by those, who have created it and are responsible for it.” (Supplement to Gazette of India, June 4, 1904, p937

After Independence – Now, after independence the hope of the best-talent syndrome belied. It was hoped that civil services would attract the best talents and most competent and qualified youth from all over India. There was a time, when it attracted the best talents of the nation. A large number of intellectuals, engineers, doctors, MBAs and other professionals joined the services. One of the reasons is that now 50% candidates are taken into the services on quota basis with relaxed standards in order to give make space for upcoming sections of society. Reservation of about 50% posts has further eroded the charm to join government services for the talented youth.

Civil services no more attract the best brains.  The willingness of talented and meritorious youths to join government services is now like a passing tide. For the last few years, constant political interference has diluted the charm to join the civil services. The youth find the work atmosphere suffocating, because there is no freedom to do any creative works. It has created many pen-pushing bureaucrats. Disincentive to hard work, merit and sincerity has demoralized the honest and hard working people.  The cream of the society either wishes to join the private sector or to go abroad. Liberalization and globalization has given a boost to this trend.

  • Bloated Size 

Under British rule – As said earlier, “It always puzzled many bigwigs like Stalin, von Ribbentrop and many other foreign observers, namely how barely a thousand British ICS (Indian Civil Service) personnel managed to rule both British India and the princely states with a combined population of well over 300 million during the first part of the twentieth century. Very few statesmen, from Bismarck to Theodore Roosevelt, doubted the quality of British rule. The cadre strength of ICS ‘the steel-frame’ and the predecessor of IAS, the elite service of Independent India, had always remained less than 1500. With that cadre strength, they were able to cope with the administrative work of the undivided India efficiently and effectively.

After independence, white elephant – There is a continuous increase in number. After Independence, the civil services have gradually grown into a bloated and top heavy service. In one of its elite service IAS, which had cadre strength of only 957 officers in 1950, is now having 4377 (as on 1.1.2012) administrators in position. The first causality of this obesity is its efficiency. In Independent India, the annual intake in IAS went up from about 33 in 1947 to 138 in 1965 and to 160 in 1985. The cadre strength in various years is given below: –

                                                             Strength of IAS after Independence

Year                         Authorized   Cadre strength                 In position

 1951                                     1232                                       957 (Includes 336 ICS)

1961                                    1862                                       1722 (Includes 215 ICS)

1971                                     3203                                       2754 (Includes 88 ICS)

1981                                      4599                                         3883

                            1991                                     5334                                             4881

2012-                                     6154                                   4377

Source: Civil lists Pay Commission Reports, Report of Deptt. of Personnel.

It is not only in IAS, but the number of civil servants has increased in all the services. Bureaucracy has become like a white elephant.

Outcome of this increase – The rot set in on account of continuous increase in the number of government employees resulted in:

    • Adverse effect on the “Espirit-d’corps” in the service
    • Creation of additional high level posts to accommodate timely promotions,
    • Establishment expenditure is eating away most of the resources generated by the Government for development projects.
    • Continuous increase at entry point has led to stagnation at Joint Secretary level, resulting in frustration,
    • Creation of many insignificant unnecessary posts, that has very little work or authority,
    • Generating resentment in Non-IAS Services against IAS officers for encroaching the preserves of other services,
    • Side-lining upright officers, thus discouraging excellence of performance. A large number of officers are always there in the queue, willing to toe the line (dictates) of politicians with vested interests.
    • Leading to poor communication, duplication of work, and delay in action and decision taking.
    • Creating multiple layers in administrative hierarchy, over the country

Specialization

During British rule – During pre-independence days there were some 9 All India services to provide adequate manpower at the top of various disciplines + other Non ICS services of generalist nature, which were as popular as ICS was. Even within ICS, immediately after the recruitment, the officers were geared to attain knowledge and experience in specific areas for higher assignments, during probationary period and thereafter-early years of service. Broadly there were three main areas ICS (Judicial as there was not much pressure of Imperial Government on their working) or Indian Custom Service (as they always got postings in big towns).  Even after Independence, for some time, there was not much difference in the social status, career progression, standard and behavior pattern of IAS and Non IAS class I services. However since 1960 onwards, slowly but steadily, IAS has become more and more powerful and the only ‘Elite service’ under Government of India. The display by ICS officers for one kind of work rather than the other, their special knack and aptitude for particular type of work was taken into account for deciding their future career. Therefore, in practice and not in theory, the ICS was building a cadre of specialists in administration and also encouraging further specialization in particular field of administration, not through formal training, but through experience by doing job under the supervision of those, having greater experience. (LK Jha, Administrator as Specialist Management in Government, July-September, 1980)

Now, after independence -After Independence, the need of specialization in IAS, one of the most powerful service in Government of India is much more than it was for ICS. But for one reason or other, contrary is the trend. IAS does not have different functional cadres. Its officers move from one functional area to another. With the result that-

Jack of all trades, but master of none – They are “Jack of all trades, but master of none”. The knowledge of any particular area is not considered important for their appointment to senior posts. Consequently, just as politicians depend on secretaries for knowledge, secretaries depend on their subordinates and technical staff for knowledge and information.

Blind leading the other blind – Many times, when politicians are to be advised on policy issues, alternatives cannot be put forward by them properly, because they, themselves, are professionally ignorant about the subject. It is often alleged that in technical areas, the system of collecting information, analyzing data and using modern innovations is so inadequate, that policy advice is neither according to time nor fully matured. Therefore, critics say that such a practice leads to a situation, where ignorant politicians are being advised by comparatively ignorant generalist officers. The position is similar to blind leading the other blind.

Adverse effect of quick changes, from one type of job to another – The quick changes, from one type of job to another, make the knowledge of IAS officers superficial. There are some hard working and sincere IAS officers, who are eager to learn the maximum about the subject matter of their job. But they are also constrained because of the swift changes from one functional area to another. The real knowledge is obtained by sustained hard work for a long period in one type of job, which enables a person to develop innate ability needed for the smooth functioning and development of that area.

• Creation of more posts – In order to solve the problem stagnation, there the government started creating more and more posts at higher grades. As a remedial action, the Government had sub-divided one job so many times that many senior officers have hardly two or three hour of work a day. What is worse, a number of them are doing jobs, which was earlier done by their juniors.

• A battle between IAS and Non IAS – The story does not end here only. In order to avoid stagnation in its elite service, i.e., IAS, the Government is creating many cushy jobs in public sector corporations, which are manned largely by IAS officers. As a consequence, a battle is going on between IAS and non-IAS central services and also between IAS and State Civil Services just to get top posts in the public sector corporations. While this battle has become something of a scandal, no one bothers, whether services are achieving the objectives, for which they are created.

• Multiplicity of these focal points – By creating more and more posts at the top level, the Government has created too many points of control and coordination. Multiplicity of too many focal points has created overlapping of functions and jurisdictions. More men, less wok, duplication of efforts, lack of supervision and control have resulted in confusion and inefficiency.

• Swift changes makes difficult to fix responsibility – Swift changes, from one functional area to another, make it difficult to hold an officer responsible for any wrong policy. By the time, the results of a policy or the implementation of a program is evaluated, the concerned officer gets shifted to another post, department or goes back to his parent state.

• Unlimited Authority without Responsibility – It is said, “Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely”. The concept of “Welfare state” and “Development administration” has bestowed immense authority in the hands of Government, which is mainly exercised by the executive, meaning the ministers and the Bureaucrats. But this authority is without responsibility.

• Always someone else held responsible – Whatever may go wrong, either at the field level or at the secretariat level, an IAS officer is never held responsible. If law and order situation deteriorates in a district, IPS officer is held responsible. If a policy decision goes wrong, it is said that the IAS officers were wrongly advised by the specialists or specialized organizations dealing with that particular subject.

Lack of senior’s support

During British period – During British period, young officers were placed under the strict supervision of senior officers, who used to take keen interest in the development of their capacity to run the administration effectively. It was made clear to senior district officers, that it was very important to pay attention to the young officers, who were put under their guidance. Their success in life and reputation, as good officers, depended greatly on the assistance; they received from their seniors at the outset of their career. (GO No.738, published on April 18, 1916, ICS Manual Madras) As a result, the junior officers were groomed well on job and possessed a marked degree of professionalism in their area of activity. Their claim of superiority, over others, was clearly established.

Now after the independence – However, after independence, the scene is not like the past. Senior officers gradually lost interest in their subordinates. Reasons for it are generally the following –

• There is scarcity of experienced officers at the district level. Most of them have drifted to the central and state secretariats or to public corporations etc

• There is lack of personnel planning.

• Premature promotions – Earlier, ICS officers used to work under senior officers for about seven to eight years, before they were given independent charge as collector. Now officers have to take the responsibility of independent jobs prematurely. After foundation training of two years,   hardly a year or 18 months passes, when an IAS officer gets promoted to the responsible post of collector. He is not mature enough either service-wise or age-wise to handle the challenging job of a collector. When officer himself does not have enough experience as a collector (head of district administration), how can he take up the responsibility of training others?

• Senior officers are so occupied with their own work, that they hardly spare enough time and attention to see and guide the work of their juniors.

• Because of changing political culture, senior officers themselves are so insecure, how can they instil sense of security and confidence amongst their juniors?

• Unfortunately, now the main function of the administrative service has become to maintain status quo and defend the wrong practices of its political masters, not to guide well the junior officers or stand by them when in difficulty.

Suggestion of ARC (1968) – ARC had also suggested way back in 1968 that the IAS officers should be confined to areas, which are well known to them and should not be allowed to encroach on those areas, for which, others have acquired special knowledge and experience. (Report of ARC on Personnel Administration in Government of India, 1969, p16) All India Character  Professor Maheshvari has said, “In a never ceasing see-saw game of adjustment and bargaining between the center and the states in federal cum competitive politics, neither its all India outlook, nor its talent, nor even its supposed loyalty to the center comes into active play.” (Maheshwari SR, The All India Service, published in the lecture series of 80th Course on Personnel Policies in practice organized by 11PA, 1980, P305)

IAS is fast loosing its all India character. The Union Home Ministry has, from time to time, advised Chief Secretaries of the states not to recommend transfer of cadre members to their home states, but those with influence are able to manage it. In many states like Bihar, Punjab etc, more than 60% of the officers are from within the state. It is mainly because of the political ties. (Saxena NS, IAS and IPS at war with the state cadre, Times of India, April 6,1984) It has become very difficult for IAS officers to take the side of Union Government, while working in states. It becomes more difficult, when other parties than that of the center rule states. Working with state governments compels them to take care of local influences – political and social. In order to avoid local pressures, many officers avoid field postings. They either prefer to have postings in the state capitals or be on deputation in the central government at Delhi, where there is lesser political pressure on them.

  • Field Experience

An administrator is supposed to maintain links with the people directly through the channels of understanding and persuasion, not through authority or force. Many ICS officers claimed that earlier they had been closer to public than present day administrators.

During British rule – The work experience at district or sub-division level was considered to be a qualification for ICS officers. Personal knowledge of ground realities/village conditions was considered necessary. The rulers insisted on personal knowledge of its executives of what was happening in the farthest village. Administrative officers established and maintained contact with rural masses at the highest level of the administrative hierarchy. Great emphasis was laid on getting young officers thoroughly acquainted with village and the administrative structure dealing with matters, which touched the rural people, such as land, irrigation, Government loans etc. The most important of these, from villagers’ point of view, was his right on land – whether as owner, tenant or worker. It had to be correctly recorded. Rendering effective, just and quick service to the villagers – Also, various exaction of government, such as land revenue, higher irrigation dues, return of loans etc. were to be fairly assessed and collected. The village community had a vested interest in the efficiency and honesty of revenue system. Whatever be the motivation of British administration, it certainly rendered effective, just and quick service to the villagers. The system was so enforced and watched, that there was no escape, whatsoever from acquiring knowledge about village conditions and methods to deal with them. (Mangat Rai, Commitment my style in ICS, 1973)

Exhaustive touring from village to village – The officers used to make exhaustive tours, moving from village to village and lived a camp-life for considerably long period. The symbol and instrument of village contact was horse. This was partly because of the manner, in which these were conducted, were slow, and easy, involving staying out near village and imbibing thoroughly their atmosphere and conditions. Close contact with people, source of strength in a democracy – The close contact with the common men and the people’s faith in their uprightness gave them the strength to become the “Steel frame” of the whole system.  Now many retired ICS officers claim, that the nature of functioning before the independence was such, that they had better understanding and knowledge of the people of their area than the IAS officers of today. In a democratic, people are the source of strength – this basic truth is forgotten by most of the administrators, making them weaker.

Now, After Independence – Unfortunately, after independence and progressively over the years, importance of field experience has lost its validity. Mostly, while ‘sitting in an air-conditioned room’ or ‘living in an ivory tower’, bureaucrats are hardly aware of the problems/realities at ground level of the common-man.

  • Field experience lost its validity – Most of the officers are habitual of leading a comfortable urban life. It is difficult and troublesome for them to spend enough time in rural areas. As a result, they have to depend to a great extent on the advice of their subordinates there. Many times, there is a lack of timely and reliable information. Escape from field postings – Many smart and ambitious officers find their way out and skip sub-divisional or district experience. A study by DPAR, in 1981, has shown that in eight state cadres, 70% or more IAS officers have not done sub-divisional charge even for two years. (Seventy Seventh Report of Estimate Committee of Seventh Lok Sabha, August 17,1984, pp76-77) IAS is fast becoming a secretariat service.
  • Little grass-root contacts – The same is the story of district charge. Many officers manage their postings at the center and/or state capitals throughout their career and do not care to revive or develop what little grass-root contacts, they had earlier. Because of the improved road network in the villages and availability of fast moving vehicles, such as cars, jeeps etc, the district officers lack the intimate knowledge of the rural areas. The tendency of officers is merely to complete the formality of being on tour, as might have stipulated by the state Government. They make touch and go visits to rural areas, especially the one, which are easily accessible by road, spend the prescribed compulsory number of night halts in some wayside Dak bungalow.
  • Lack of grass-roots contacts making ‘Politicians’ stronger and ‘Bureaucrats’ weaker –Today, politicians are closer to people than bureaucrats. It is due to this lack of enough field experience, grass roots knowledge and experience in the absence of direct contact with the rural masses that the local politicians could exert pressure on administrators. It has made them stronger than bureaucrat.
  • Politicization

Before and after independence – ICS enjoyed the authority to take decisions. The ministers and politicians used to find their authority shadowy over them.

After the independence, the table was turned. Over the years bureaucrats have succumbed to the dictats of its political masters. Now, the minister dictates and the officers obey without any resistance. Dominance of political masters over administrative and economic matters has been one of the prominent features of independent India, which is responsible for the deterioration of law and order and slower rate of economic growth.

The political leaders found the authority to reward and punish officers, through transfers and postings, as an effective tool to make officers fall in line with them and be loyal to them. Honest and upright officers face quick transfers, bad entries, judicial inquiries, and loyalist officer’s prestigious postings, foreign trips special allowances etc. It has made Bureaucrats to succumb almost absolutely to political pressures.

  • Growing politicization of services and lack of support from seniors has put a negative effect on the initiative and creativity of young officers. Today the efficiency of the service as a whole is at its lowest ebb. Complete breakdown of discipline everywhere is mainly responsible for the disintegration of administrative system and its future.

Glamorous service

Until 1960s, there was very little difference between the standard and behavior of IAS officers and class I officers belonging to other services of Government of India. Today, IAS officers deal directly with politicians, plan bigger things, moves all over the world frequently. It has added glamour to the service. The result of this development has been that the IAS has attracted the attention of politicians, especially of those pursuing the sectional interest. To them, entry into IAS is the surest and quickest means to get control over others, to improve one’s status in the society, to command instant admiration and respect of the people, thus in reaching quickly to the commanding position in the society. It is supposed to be the manifest symbol of power. It makes an easy access to levers of authority. It enables them to occupy positions having immense power and privileges at the highest level in the Government. Once in service, a person could lead an easy life, is a general conception. The craze for getting into the service is increasing continuously amongst the newly emerging sections of the society. Most of the new recruits are now not bothered about the high ideals, intellectual competence and high standards of administration, commitment to public service, Constitutional values, or concern for justice. They are mainly interested in exercising the State authority over powerless people and making as much money as possible by misusing their authority.

Red tape

Jayant Narlikar, an eminent scientist, describes government functioning as the soulless movement of files. According to him, India has one of the most obdurate, cold, insular and inflexible Civil Service, the free world has ever known. (Narikar Jayant, Two Cheers for Bureaucracy, Times of India, December 13, 1995, p10) Lord Curzon’s remarks are, “Round and round like the diurnal revolution of the earth went the file – stately, solemn and slow”. Similarly, decades later, Malcolm Muggeridge observed, “It was governments pure and un-defied, endlessly minuting and circulating files, which like time itself has neither beginning nor end.” (Times of India, December 25, 1995)

What should be done?

Sufficient knowledge of the area, in which one works

 The role of civil services have become more demanding and challenging due to the complexity of modern times and fast changing social, political, economic and technological developments of the recent past. Specialization with varied experience, in present atmosphere, means that an officer for strategic senior post should have sufficient knowledge of the area he is supposed to work.  In addition to that in their own discipline, there should be varied experience of different aspects and activities concerned with it – such as planning, coordinating work at different levels, advising ministers on policy matters, taking into account the social, legal and economic constraints, particularly in his/her functional area etc. All this could be achieved only after working in any area for a reasonable period.

Basic qualification – It appears rather odd that a simple graduation is required to enter into the most prestigious service i.e. the IAS. While in other services like Indian Economic Service and Indian Statistical Service, the requirement is a post-graduate degree. In Engineering or technical services a degree in Engineering, which takes four years of rigorous graduation course. The time demands to have a cadre of more and more qualified administrators, more than in the past.  Either the administrators should be selected earlier and then trained properly for their jobs as is being done in Defence Services or MBA degree needs to be made compulsory for appearing in competitive entrance examination. Lateral entries could also be made by including bright persons already employed elsewhere, like: –

•Technocrats having sufficient experience in management,

•Professionals from other civil services,

•Entrepreneurs, willing to switch over.

Promotion policy Promotions in the service should be strictly based on good performance. Administrator should be encouraged to upgrade, sharpen, and focus their knowledge towards analysis and problem solving Closer contact with people could save bureaucrats from undue political pressure – Today’s politicians think themselves to be exclusive guardians of the people. The Administrators have, at present, lost the faith of the people.

The people doubt their credibility and efficacy of occupying policy level posts. Alienation from the common man leads the administrator to base their decisions on second hand information. Because of inadequate data, inefficient resource allocation and inward looking project monitoring; plans and policies remain, often, far away from the reality and actual needs and aspirations of the people. Closer contact, coordination with people and their confidence in administrator could save them from undue political pressure.

Corruption

Many reports reveal that although an increasing number of IAS figures in corruption cases, the wheels of justice are not moving fast enough to punish the guilty. Procedural delays, political patronage and resistance from within the bureaucracy, appear to be helping corrupt officials evade the long arm of the law. People are given all kinds of excuses for the corruption prevalent in the service. Corrupt and self-seeking administrators have become expensive parasites on the system and society.

Independent machinery for transfers and promotions Extensive political controls over transfers and promotions give vast powers to them and unlimited opportunities to make money. Through delays, dilatoriness and excuses they help the greedy and power hungry politicians. In return get their patronage and good postings.

In order to provide bureaucracy functional independence and give a chance to conscientious and competent bureaucrats to contribute for good governance, recently Supreme Court ordered setting minimum tenures for bureaucrats and put curb on arbitrary transfers and postings. But lack of political will is the hurdle on the way to much required administrative reforms.

 Winding up

In short, the reasons of the corrosion of the steel-frame are poor personnel policies, excessive protectionist policies of the Government, bloated size, unbalanced infrastructural development with concentration of authority in a few hands, cumbersome office procedures, increased paper work, delay in action and decision – taking, disincentive to hard work, talent and sincerity, lack of accountability, alienation from the common man and the last but not the least tolerance of people of India, who accept sub-standard administration, giving very little challenge to the officers to upgrade their performance.

Conclusion

Following are the steps to be taken by the government –

  • First of all, the Government of India should merge all its civil services, technical as well as non-technical, into one unified service with an integrated pay structure and career prospects. The Government should ensure complete parity in pay scales, same time- frame for all services for getting promoted into next grade, promotional avenues and career development.
  • For efficient and effective administration, the 21st century administrative machinery needs to be lean, thin and down-sized.• The attainment of high standard of administration depends a great deal on the environment of work, which requires selection of capable officers, proper placement of officers and proper atmosphere of work.
  • On their part, bureaucrats require a change in attitude. They should be accountable for their decisions.
  • There is need to do field duties in districts more seriously, to get the feel of the pulse of the nation and to get people’s cooperation, not by force or use of authority, but by prompting, persuading, suggesting, stimulating and inspiring them.
  • It must be realized by every bureaucrat that he are there because of the people, not the people because of him. People are not an interruption to his work, but the purpose of it. In a country like India, where most of its people are illiterate or semi-literate, mere functional efficiency can not stir warmth. A little glow of welcome in the eyes of civil servant converts disappointment into exhilaration in the public. People, after meeting a civil servant, should return with satisfaction that they were heard patiently and sympathetically and that some one would be taking interest in their problems. 

April 24, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | | Leave a comment

%d bloggers like this: