Friday, June 8, 2001, Chandigarh, India



Lack of professionalism in our politico-bureaucratic system

Apropos Mr Hari Jaisingh's excellent analysis of the nation's security concerns "Wages of weak leaders, soft options"(Frankly Speaking, June 1), I wish to comment on the move to appoint a Chief of Defence Staff and a Vice Chief and entrust them with the ticklish task of upward and downward coordination.

To my mind this might in fact aggravate the problem. In our setup, there has been pre-eminence of the Army over the Air Force and the Navy due to historical and numerical reasons. It would be unwise to disturb it.

It would have been simpler to designate the Chief of Army Staff as CDS and both the Air and Naval Chiefs as VCDS, ex officio. I don't know why the Air Chief has voluntarily opted out of it. But I presume it must have been some such consideration.

You are absolutely right about the lack of professionalism in our politico-bureaucratic system. This needs to be consciously cultivated. The political parties in the UK have a system of "shadow cabinets", political leaders specialises in selected subjects like defence, foreign affairs etc and keep themselves abreast with important developments in their areas. Our political parties make their leaders specialise in lung power only. This needs to be corrected and capabilities developed.


It should be easier to develop specialised capabilities in the top echelons of the IAS for handling jobs like the Defence Secretary by doing some kind of a forward planning in cadre management. It might help if a wholetime Services' Selection and Cadre Management Board chaired by an officer of the level of the Cabinet Secretary is set up. The Secretary Personnel is supposed to do this job today under the Cabinet Secretary's guidance. But these officers remain tied up with their other work of day-to-day urgency, and this work never receives the kind of attention it needs.

It is no use denigrating the quality or the fibre of the currently available political or bureaucratic material. They will not fall from the skies. They have to be from amongst us.

RAM VARMA, Panchkula

CASUAL RESPONSE: The culture of sycophancy, which is an inherent ingredient of our administrative setup, is painfully creeping into the sensitive fields of national security and economic growth. Instead of displaying a qualitative professionalism, even the defence administration tries to satisfy the whimsical bosses which ultimately may tend to politicise national security.

It is because of such a casual, disjointed and even undesirable response to security issues that the nation has had to face humiliation first at Kargil and now on the Bangladesh border, sacrificing many precious lives. The recent exposure of corruption in the sensitive areas of national defence is a sad commentary on our national character.

The problem in our national governance, be it in the fields of security, foreign policy or economic growth, is not of any dearth of ideas, schemes and proposals. It is in fact serious lack of fixing our national priorities and coordinated and concentrated follow-up action. Work culture has never been our strong forte, as we have often believed in ad hocism and passing the buck. Naturally lack of clear vision added with a weak and casual implementation of policies tend to create more enemies than friends and have often landed the country in serious and embarrassing problems.


CREATE POST OF CDS: There is a crying need for an improved national security system. The GoM's recommendations should be implemented without delay. The posts of Chief of Defence Staff and VCDS be created and filled as recommended. The suggestion of our former Chief of Army Staff, Gen (retd) V.P. Malik, also merits consideration: “The Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) and his headquarters must be a part of the Defence Ministry and not another department under it.”

It is pity that our existing defence structure promotes single service interests at a time when the world has moved way ahead in the science of warfare. We must ensure that there is no inter-service rivalry over the post of CDS. It appears that a last-minute hiccup has delayed the CDS appointment.


DEPOLITICISE SECURITY: The security problem is a complicated, tortuous problem for nothing can be corrected without inviting new aberrations or chasms. Hence what is required is total depoliticisation of the security system. Thus politics too, like other disciplines, requires more detailed knowledge and a longer apprenticeship.


SECURITY ENVIRONMENT: Political interference ought to be curbed to give spirited support to the security environment. The report of the Group of Ministers (GoM) needs to be implemented in letter and in spirit. It must not be allowed to gather dust like the recommendations of various committees and commissions set up in the past.

IQBAL SINGH, Bijhari (Hamirpur)

The layman and the law

When a criminal infringes the right of another person, we contemplate action under the law in the shape of punishment to the former and relief to the later, meaning thereby that we want that the offender must be punished so that justice is done to the victim.

But the offender can go unpunished on account of rigid technicalities of the procedural law. A layman does not understand why an offender goes unpunished and consequently he blames the judicial system. The need of the hour is to make the procedural law dynamic and easier, and also to reduce the burden of work on the judiciary.




Judicial excesses

This refers to Anupam Gupta's article “Arundhati Roy talks bluntly of judicial excess” (May 28). I deeply appreciate the writer's views on this issue.

I also think that the stance taken by Arundhati Roy is right, and her apprehensions of judicial excesses are justified. It is sad that in today's era, when the judiciary's role in public life is expanding, the judiciary has time and again invoked “contempt of court” provisions as a weapon for curbing or diminishing the individual's right to question its wisdom or its accountability.

The recent judgements passed by the Supreme Court on several issues such as the closure of polluting industries in Delhi, the conversion of public transport buses from diesel to CNG and the Narmada dam issue are laudable.

But is there full realisation on the court's part of the problems and issues involved in implementing such orders? How are the affected millions likely to react and express their views?

As one with a background of law and as one aspiring to enter the judicial services, I strongly believe that criticism and dissent should not be seen as a challenge to authority, but as ways and means of learning and evolving so that the judiciary is really able to live up to its aim of serving the society.


ARUNDHATI CHALLENGES COURTS: Mr Anupam Gupta has tried to justify the contemptuous and irresponsible comments by the two loud-mouthed ladies (leaders of the NBA) against the highest court of the land. Their outburst on the day of verdict (watched by millions on TV) was to be seen to be believed. Their aggressive, rebellious, blunt and taunting mouthings startled viewers.

After their years of obstructionist attitude through agitations, demonstrations and litigation and holding to ransom three states and millions of people, and when ten thousand crores of rupees had already been spent on this project, they should have gracefully accepted the judgement of our apex court. But it is not in the temperament of these high-headed ladies.

Less said the better about our politicians, the bureaucracy has also lost its shine and respect, and the judiciary is now the last pillar of our democracy which needs to be safe-guarded and protected.

Everybody, big or small, is equal before the law. The two women should be dealt with as per the relevant law. If they go scot free, it will set a wrong precedent. The petitioners, not getting the verdict to their liking, may resort to loose talk, cast aspersions and doubt on the integrity of judges, which will be a bad omen for the judicial system.

J. K. MAGO, Panchkula

‘CONTEMPT’ OBSOLETE: I endorse Mr Anupam Gupta's view that the judiciary should be accountable to the people. The contempt of court provision is obsolete and should, therefore, be discarded.

It is ridiculous that the judiciary should seek protection from public criticism in order to preserve its dignity and prestige. When the object of criticism is above reproach, criticism will enhance, not impair, its prestige.

RAJESH K. SHARMA, Hoshiarpur

Vehicles on The Mall

Will anyone in the Himachal Government listen to the woes of local residents and tourists and stop vehicles on The Mall from Chhotta Shimla to the AG's office. Speeding and honking vehicles disturb the peace and tranquility of the area. Most of the vehicles belong to government officers used often by their family members. To maintain the past glory of Shimla, particularly of The Mall, enforce the traffic rules which were prevalent prior to Independence.


Stray dog menace

India has maximum number of stray dogs in the world. This results in many deaths due to rabies. Annually 30,000 people lose their lives due to this disease. But the government and civic authorities seem to pay no attention towards this menace.

The government must bring forth legislation to control stray dogs. Nobody should be allowed to keep a dog as a pet without proper and mandatory registration. Every pet dog owner must be asked to get the dog vaccinated. Stray dogs should be sterilised so as to check future breeding of them with active participation of various animal welfare organisations.


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