19 Mar

Making things happen in the government

A fascinating lecture by Mr Anil Swarup (retired IAS, ex-Secretary to Govt. of India & State Govt of UP) at Lt Governer, Puducherry Raj Niwas. His Wikipedia page here and Twitter account here.

The first half is the talk itself, followed by some time of Q&A, followed by a short talk by Mr Ashwani Kumar (Chief Secretary to Government of Pondicherry) and in the end is Lt Governor Kiran Bedi.

Misc notes from this talk

  1. For an idea to fructify in a democracy like ours, it has to politically acceptable, socially desirable, technologically feasible, financially viable, administratively doable and judiciary tenable.
  2. Don’t get agitated about things over which you have no control.
  3. Key thing is to focus and change yourself and rest will just follow.
  4. The digitalisation helps significantly in reducing corruption and adding more transparency.
  5. For solutions to a large number of problems, we do not need to look outside (of the country) but inwards towards various states from the length and breadth of the country.
  6. There was a draconian section clause in the Prevention of Corruption Act 13 (1) d. The clause was: while holding office as a public servant, obtains for any person any valuable thing or pecuniary advantage without any public interest; or (source)

    In simple terms, it means that if anyone makes an undue benefit in a process, the bureaucrat will be held for it whether or not he had any benefit from it. Eventually, Modi Govt. in the centre revoked it and this Gazette notification has a new law. Thus now for bonafide mistake bureaucrats are legally protected.
  7. Culture of views & counterviews in the bureaucracy got deteriorated because of RTI activism. “RTI activist” end up in matching the notes of multiple officers & then try to play them against each other.
  8. Systems like Aadhar should have been respected & promoted but became a major target of “activist brigade”. I personally had a discussion with some of the folks who are heavily against the Aadhar and would even go to the extent of suggesting to shut down the program. While they might make a couple of valid points, but a large part of their points come with the fundamental assumption that rest of society, systems, identification technologies etc are utopian in nature!
  9. E-office system of Govt. needs more improvement. In some case, it’s just another system and a process where one has to dump scanned documents instead of actually digitalising.

Ending this post with a poem from Mr Swarup in Hindi! 🙂

समय रुका नहीं, हम क्यू ठहर गए? अभी तो हम चले भी नहीं, फिर क्यू थक गए?
उठो पथिक, उठो पथिक मत भ्रमित हो धूमिल अंधियारे में, श्रेष्ठ वही जो घिरा नहीं हो षणिक निराशा में|
जागो जगाओ, मन मत बहलाओ, एक मसीहा तुम भी बन जाओ |