Sardar Patel famously called Indian Civil Services that includes the IAS and IPS as the “steel frame” of Indian governingmachinery. The independent Indian rulers thought that they will be rightly and honestly guided by the bureaucracy, which are picked up by the UPSC from among the best, brightest and talented youth and trained at the respective academies in the administrative capability coupled with their motive of serving the nation without fear or favour. After over seven decades, once famous ‘steel frame’ seems to have not only lost its sheen but started rusting because of its exposure to the highly “corrosive, poisonous fumes emanating from the political factories” both at the Centre and the States coupled with faults in the design and composition and working of that ‘steel frame’.
For over seven decades IAS and IPS officers are effective eyes and ears of the elected Governments. Initially the ‘steel frame’ was fresh and had the strength to withstand all sorts of pressures and has never bent before the political masters. It is also a fact that those first generation of ministers were educated, freedom fighters with a vision for nation building and they themselves were upright in their dealings. That generation of dedicated leader have gone and the change in the political class is evident now. The nexus of politician bureaucratin making corrupt deals on one side and hand in glove activities of police and politician on the unlawful activities are coming out quite at alarming frequency, through several sources. Now the society is, naturally, questioning the necessity to bear the,agonisingly fast rusting, ‘steel frame’ in all its pomp.
Ever since politicians gained upper hand and started controlling the appointments and postings, those who got the jobs and positions through political route started obliging their patrons in politics
IAS cadre which form the principle component of ‘steel frame’ has stopped to be sensitive to the needs of the common people. This neo IAS class are urban educated, got into the service through an expensive coaching system. They are into the service with an entitlement mentality far drawn away from reality of the societal needs. They are into a grove of raising irrelevant questions fordodging the issues or scuttle the decision making. The IAS has kept all the key posts and decision making procedures with in their ‘steel frame’ mechanism. No one, despite their domain expertise and better brain, is allowed to tell them or guide them in ‘dusting the steel frame’ structure. It is because of the fear losing the grip or exposing their short fall in capabilities that this established ‘steel frame’ is opposing the lateral entry at decision making level, proposed by Narendra Modi government. They talk of absence of accountability mechanism for such new lateral entrants at the senior level while not taking the responsibility of their own failure.
The uniformed IPS service seems to have forgotten their original responsibility of leading the force in protecting the people and lost the credibility among people. They are feared because of the enormous power they have in dealing with general public but certainly not respected by the society. The IPS officers which are supposed to lead the force against evil persons in the society have letdown the force by siding with those in power in the misdeeds. The current murky things in the Mumbai police set up are alarming and shameful. Police personal themselves acting as the agents of collection for the Minister, running a parallel ‘underground’ activities. Some of the senior officers have the temerity of leaking the confidential correspondences to their political masters from whom they had favours earlier, as alleged by the CM of Maharashtra Uddhav Thackeray. If those allegation are true then the officers concerned are certainly went against their sacred ‘conduct rules’ and the oath they took after the completion of the training. The situation may not be different from other states. There were many reports from across India where the police officers are involved in illegal activities to please the political masters or to make money themselves. The very fact some of the senior police officers were caught in wrong doing and some of them dodged the arrest and some are convicted for offences shows the decline in the standards of the police official of all India services.
Julio Ribeiro, former IPS officer, has said the rot in the system has started in UP and Bihar in 1960s when SmtIndira Gandhi was Prime Minister. Till then, the politicians never ventured to come to police station to mount pressure on the police to release the accused under detention
Julio Ribeiro, a distinguished IPS officer, has said that the rot in the system has started in UP and Bihar in 1960s when SmtIndira Gandhi was Prime Minister. Till then, as per Ribeiro, the politicians never ventured to come to police station to mount pressure on the police to release the accused under detention. But under political compulsions to retain her fading popularity,SmtIndira Gandhi chose to change the character of political class. From the service-minded Congress men, the leadership went into the criminal-minded with a history of rowdy sheets. May be SmtIndira Gandhi won a massive victory in 1971 but inadvertently she made police force subservient to the political class. The rot, thus, once cow belt centric has spread in the last 50 years to the whole of the country. May be there is degree of difference in extent of rot in the police force but there is no doubt whose interests the police is serving in the country.
Ever since politicians gained upper hand and started controlling the appointments and postings,those who got the jobs and positions through political route started obliging their patrons in politics. Unlike the lower level police officials the IPS bosses are recruited through a ‘meritorious method’ trained in highly acclaimed academies and posted to a senior position directly. Instead of standing up to the reputation of their services, correcting the subordinates, challenging the illegal demands and orders of the political bosses, unfortunately, the members of second rung ‘steel frame’ discarded the principles of good governance and became conduit for the police-politician nexus. Unless the stranglehold of politicians on police is loosened or at least some of the IPS officers challenge the wicked ministers and their illegal orders there will be more enterprising SachinVazes who are more of law breaking category instead of law keeping officers. Criminals in uniform are more dangerous to the society rather the criminal minded general public.
When, IAS and IPS, the main ‘steel frame’ of the bureaucracy is corroded and rusted then the other central service wings are prone to faster corrosion thus weakening the entire bureaucratic set up and such danger will engulf all unless some fast and serious corrective measures are initiated.
(The writer is a retired Professor and political columnist based in Vijayawada)