Sucheta Dalal :Not In My Footsteps
Sucheta Dalal

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Not In My Footsteps  

June 2, 2010

A recent survey has thrown up several findings about the self-perceptions of the babu class

They have enjoyed their jobs and the power that they wield, but when it comes to their children, at least half our bureaucrats would rather not encourage them to follow in their footsteps. This was one of the interesting findings of the ‘Civil Services’ survey conducted by the Union ministry of personnel and released last month. It showed that a massive 85% of the IAS officers surveyed said that they were proud of being a part of the civil service and enjoyed their work, but just half of them would recommend it as a career for their children. Is it any wonder then that the children of most bureaucrats land up in Ivy League business schools in the US and return to India with fat dollar salaries and terrific lobbying power through mom, dad and uncles in the bureaucracy?

The survey has thrown up several findings about the self-perceptions of the babu class that are quite at variance with public perception of them. For instance, 70% of IAS officers surveyed felt that their colleagues and peers did not approach ‘influential’ people for good postings. Anyone who has seen the jostling for postings and how officers, especially those posted in capital cities and major metros, lobby for postings or cajole industrialists to buy them postings, would find this hard to digest.

Amusingly, IAS and IPS officers are apparently the most honest about the prevalence of ‘unethical practices’ in their service; on the other hand, IRS (C&CE) as well as the IA&AS and IFS perceive the officers of their service/cadre as relatively more ethical!

One candid admission emerging from the survey is that 81% of bureaucrats believe that political corruption occurs because some civil servants are willing collaborators. They also agree that corrupt officials generally have a good time—they are not punished for their corruption and get the most coveted postings, while honest officers are harassed through baseless complaints and investigations. The findings provide an excellent summary of why the country is in such a sad shape—corruption is rampant because bureaucrats help politicians in their loot; in return, they get a share of the booty and are rarely caught or punished; the honest ones are also silenced by harassing them through fake or baseless complaints! Sucheta Dalal

-- Sucheta Dalal