Sunday, August 4, 2013

The politics about Durga Shakti Nagpal and Civil servants

The suspension of a 2010 cadre civil servant in Uttar Pradesh has been latched onto by the media and is playing on TV day in and day out with bits and pieces of new information coming out. My understanding of this story has been through the media and I’m attempting a bit of reading between the lines. Let’s assume that the civil servant didn’t do any wrong and has applied sound judgement in the case she’s accused of malpractice.

Did the ruling government suspend the civil servant only because a minority community is party to the structure in question?

Is the opposition party at the centre crying the loudest for the same reason?

The Great Indian Bureaucracy has had stalwarts in it’s service. Year after year one hears of stories of simple individuals exhibiting great heights of integrity and ethics despite being in government service where the power they wield is substantial and the opportunities for making money under the table looms large.

The District Collect of Madurai who stood up to the mafia that controlled the town and reached out to the marginalized, who spends his time today as the Managing Director of Co-optex is a good example of a decent civil servant.

There are have been instances of personnel who took their job seriously and would never bow down to power like this Police officer who towed the Prime Minister’s car, who rose to the heights of service in the force but despite which couldn’t take charge as Police Commissioner of the national capital. A grudge she probably still nurses inside !

We’ve also seen examples of civil servants who made it their life’s ambition to cleanse our polity of corruption and take up the aam-aadhmi’s cause like a crusade but who’ve then been massive disappointments by cozying up to the executive and taken up prestigious or plum postings after retirement, literally peddling the agenda of the government of the day.

That brings me to JM Lyngdoh, who retired as the Chief Election Commissioner of India and was lauded for the conduct of elections in two key Indian states in the early part of this century. A rare breed of civil servant who stood up to what he thought was morally and ethically right and hasn’t sucked up to the executive after retiring, like he vociferously declared in this interview to the BBC 10 years ago.

It’s another matter that the Chief Minister of one of the two states that went to polls in that period kept referring to him as “James Michael Lyngdoh” every time he spoke to the media sort of alluding to his religion and therefore making him seem like an enemy of the majority. There was no way JM Lyngdoh could be an Indian in his books that he even asked if the man came from Italy. However, India at that time was fortunate to have AB Vajpayee at it’s helm who chided his party’s own Chief Minister for all the mischief, ABV’s disappearance from the political scene is sorely missed today.

P.S: Politicians look at Civil Servants as “slaves”, literally, people who can be ordered around and dropped at one’s whim. An example for this can be seen in this TV debate. Make no mistake, this contempt for the bureaucracy exists in all political parties and not just the one seen in this video.



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