Wednesday, August 14, 2002, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi



Punjab’s bloated bureaucracy — a way out

This refers to the article “Punjab’s bloated bureaucracy” by Amar Chandel (July 31). Crafty politicians and a self-serving bureaucracy have caused the disease of bureaucratic flabbiness at the top by giving a go-by to any selection process to the top posts. A CM wants to pick up a particular person, seventh in order of merit of seniority as his Chief Secretary or the DGP. A cool bureaucrat advises a pay and perks promotion to other six to avoid legal controversies regarding supersession without reason. The game goes on till the government changes and another set gets promoted. The byword is that if you cannot kick a person out, kick him upwards.

This malady will go on till the Centre comes out with a hammer or a gusty CM takes on the bull by the horn. The retirement of dozen or so Principal Secretaries of DGPs next year, as suggested, will not resolve the problem that has seeped into the system. There are others waiting in the wings to be sidelined and kicked up. Then where does the solution lie?

We should not grudge the pay and perks of the bureaucracy if they live within their means and do some constructive work in the field for the masses. To achieve this, we need to restructure our administrative set-up at the district level. Let all posts of Deputy Commissioner be upgraded to Principal Secretary/Financial Commissioner level and the incumbent be designated as Chief Commissioner (CC). A team of senior and junior IAS/PCS officers at the district and sub-district/sub-division level may assist the CC. It is high time that a subdivision is made as basic unit of administration for an IAS/IPS officer with six to 10 years’ service. The term “tehsil” can be done away with if it hurts the ego of the elite cadres.


If the above configuration is accepted, the CC in the district with his seniority and ranking will be, by and large, able to exercise greater authority and co-ordination of other departmental heads in the field, such as IGs/DIGs/CEs/ CMOs/DFOs. At present if a DC calls a meeting, DIG/SSP sends an ASP/DSP, the CE deputes an SDO, and an MO with no brief represents the CMO. Heads themselves would be pretending to be busy in their departmental work or go on tours on which the DC has no control. Public matters remain unresolved at the district level and are referred to the state secretariat for decisions for which they are not geared up.

At the state headquarters, the Chief Secretary should be assisted by one or two Additional Chief Secretaries, and six to seven Secretaries. All financial powers should be vested in the district CCs and these should be below only to those of Chief Secretary and Additional Chief Secretary for the budgeted funds. The staff at the state HQ should be drastically curtailed and should be just adequate to advise their ministers on long-term plans and provide feedback on progress of projects in their respective fields.

Another aspect connected with this issue is the civil and military relations. By quirk of imagination the ranking of a Deputy Commissioner has been equated to a Brigadier in the Army in most of the states. This is irrespective to the fact whether a DC is an IAS upstart or a dyed-in-wool, about-to-retire PA-to-CM turned PCS turned IAS officer. This leads to protocol predicaments whenever district level Independence or Republic Day functions are held. To avoid any embarrassment in the parking and seating arrangements, the Army usually shows a token presence by sending a relatively junior ranking officer even when Major General and Brigadiers are invited and they are present in the town. Imagine the harmony that can be generated in the relationship if a Chief Commissioner with, say 25 years experience in the IAS heads a district.

The cadre structure of the IPS and that of the state police can also be decentralised to the districts on a similar pattern. The concept of having a Commissioner of Police with the rank of IG in each district will reduce the flab at the state HQ and possibly terminate the furlough they are now said to be enjoying.

Unless some incisive treatment is done to rejuvenate the bureaucracy, it is likely to collapse under its own burden. At present the government is using the bureaucracy to privatise the PSUs. The day may not be very far when the political leadership will approach the private sector to help privatise the bureaucracy.

Brig K.S. GREWAL (retd), Panchkula

Attack on yatris

Apropos your editorial “Attack on Amarnath yatris” (Aug 7), it is not correct to say that Mr Narasimha Rao slept through the best part of his term. In 1994, he got a resolution passed by Parliament, declaring the entire Jammu and Kashmir state as “an integral part of India” and helped Pakistan in its publicity campaign and supported the view that J and K was a disputed territory”. Otherwise, why should our elected representatives pass such a resolution 47 years after the state’s merger with India?

Why blame only Mr V.P. Singh for the release of hardened militants in exchange for Mr Mufti Mohammad Sayeed’s daughter? Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee has surpassed him and made world history by sending three hardcore terrorists to Kandhar in a special plane under a VIP escort headed by his then Minister for External Affairs, Mr Jaswant Singh, since he could not dare to risk the lives of 10-12 children of rich people returning after honeymooning in Nepal, by ordering the storming of the hijacked plane by commandos at Amritsar where the pilot managed to land.


Spare school kids

This is to highlight the plight of school kids during preparations for the celebration of the Independence Day. I am not against these celebrations, but I object to the indifference shown to the condition of the children. Our children are taken to the stadium to show their practice to the higher authorities viz DC, ADC etc at 8 a.m. but the officer reach the venue at 12-12.30 p.m. Meanwhile, the children are made to sit/perform in the hot, humid, sultry conditions under the scorching sun. No drinking water is available. They are not supposed to carry their own water bottles. No wonder one child died.

I ask you all is this the right thing to do? The school authorities cannot question the administration due to the fear of reprisal.

S. GARG, Bathinda

Punjab without Punjabi?

Some time back while chatting with a young relative from Punjab I was shocked to learn that in her school they get punished if they talk in Punjabi. The acceptable languages are Hindi and English. Later I met a little girl who was speaking in Hindi. On enquiring with her mom why the girl is not being taught Punjabi I was informed that their neighbourhood schools in Amritsar conduct admission interviews only in Hindi and English. I hope all Punjabis realise the importance of their mother-tongue and give Punjabi its due respect.

BALVINDER SINGH, Auckland, New Zealand

‘Maha kavi’ — who?

This refers to the report “It’s sheer academic sychophancy” in which it has been reported that I had called Dr J.S. Ahluwalia a poet of low standards, who was in essence a non-poet when he was not a Vice-Chancellor, and then I called him a “maha kavi” when he became the Vice-Chancellor.

A detailed note of dissent was sent to Dr Ahluwalia by me against the questionable decisions of the Board of Post-Graduate Studies in Punjabi regarding the syllabus of M.A. Punjabi. I have never used the word “maha kavi” in respect of Dr Ahluwalia. I feel this has been done to tarnish my image.


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