The Great Indian Disorder

Arvind Kejriwal’s instant administrative reforms, naming of another former Supreme Court judge on sexual harassment charge and Devyani Khobragade case demonstrates ad-hocism in the India’s administrative response to situations and shows politics plays more important role than rule.

Kejriwal started an anti-graft call centre asking people to do sting operations in a bid to curb corruption instead of simplifying rules which are the cause of public servants seeking money for providing their services.

Rather than first starting the anti graft call centre, Delhi chief minister Kejriwal and his team should had worked on removing discretion at the hands of government officials and simplifying rules to the extent that no government official can say no to a citizen.

The present set of rules seeks too much from people and allows government officials to relax norms at their whims and fancies, a reason for seeking money. If the rules are facilitative in nature and enables a citizen to seek service as his right, there would not be so much corruption.

I will further go on to say that rather than a few babus at the secretariat formalizing the rules, it should be citizens who should have final word. A very few government departments make rule making process as participatory approach and most impose regulations from the top.

Kejriwal’s new anti-graft call centre can prove counter productive as officials will just refuse to do their job as the Delhi government does not have a mechanism to ensure services in a time bound manner except a few like seeking a marriage certificate.

Former Bihar Chief Minister Lalu Prasad started on Kejriwal note in his first term and soon realized that lower level bureaucracy was getting hostile impacting the performance of the government. Former transport minister Ajay Maken, who is now Congress general secretary, also tried to improve things in the Delhi Transport Corporation through sudden visits but abandoned it realizing that lower bureaucracy has stopped working fearing action.

Fear cannot improve governance, reforms can. Kejriwal, instead of adopting an approach of reforms, has opted for a short-cut method of creating a fear, probably to seeing emotion in favour of the party for 2014 elections. The move would angry both citizens, who will not get prompt government service, and lower bureaucracy, which will stop working.

If he was really serious about corruption, he should have taken action against Delhi government functionaries accused of irregularities in the Commonwealth Games. V K Shunglu panel report provides more than adequate evidence. That would have sent the message that Kejriwal delivers what he promises and have guts to take on mighty in a political system.

To me, it appears extremely strange that a common link between sexual harassment charge against two former Supreme Court judges are the government’s top law officer Indira Jaisingh.

Another commonality in two sexual harassment charges is that both Justice A K Ganguly and Swantantar Kumar had given judgments against the corporate world and annoyed them. Ganguly indicted top corporate honchos in the 2G case and Kumar struck down environment clearances to many industries as head of the National Green Tribunal.

I am just raising any aspersion on the two law interns who filed the complaints but I am suspicious about the role of Jaisingh. As a government law officer she should not have campaigned for complaints to the extent even revealing their affidavits to the media. She has compromised on her position as Additional Solicitor General.

Shockingly, the government has also not asked her to maintain restrain. I don’t know the reason and will not like to speculate. But, it is a factual that Ganguly and Kumar had issued embarrassing directions against the government. Is it a new way to settle scores with dissent? Rest is for the readers to decide.

Devyani Khobragade case shows a different kind of ad-hocism of the Indian diplomacy. The government had India refused to raise its voice against America when our former President APJ Abdul Kalam and other senior leaders were body searched. Regret was more than enough to soothe hyperbolic Indian diplomatic class.

What has changed between other cases and that of Khobragade is the timing — general elections are less than four months away. The Congress led UPA government wants to en-cash on anti-America votes, especially among the minority community and young voters, who are against America’s economic imperialism.

The UPA in its almost ten years of government has openly promoted the American style of capitalism by allowing for profit corporate into welfare sectors such as health and education. The UPA had desperately tried to make agriculture subservient to American companies and open doors for them in every sector without providing adequate protection to domestic industry, which has suffered because of this onslaught.

I am not even discussing the Indo-US civil nuclear deal for which Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was willing to sacrifice his government. The deal has not given anything to India except exposing our strategic weakness towards America.

With all this, if India takes a stand against Khobragade, who father is illegal beneficiary in Mumbai’s Adarsh housing scam, is surprising. The MEA has never bothered to find out how Devyani had so many properties in her name and had conveniently forgotten about human rights of the maid servant Sangeeta Richard, a lesser mortal Indian.

Instead, the MEA used his PR machinery to plant stories in media against Richard tarnishing her image and repatriated an American diplomat who had booked her tickets in a tit for tat action for US sending back Devyani.

These incidents are just a glimpse of a Great Indian Disorder where powerful and mighty hold sway and others are either victims or mere spectators.

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