Integrity of Bureaucracy Must be Maintained in any Regime

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The latest round of transfer and posting of many bureaucrats of IAS and IPS rank in Bihar following the orders of the Election Commission and in the wake of the forthcoming State election is a reprimand to the Nitish administration.

An officer like Amir Subhani, who apparently is loyal to Nitish Kumar or, perhaps, enjoyed his confidence, was at the plum posting for more than five years, when usually officers should be shifted to another position after three years. Nitish's inseparable attachment to this officer is proven by the fact that after Jitan Ram Manjhi had transferred him to a different place, Subhani was brought back immediately to the same position when Nitish regained his Chief Ministership. It was quite likely, going forward, Subhani’s power and influence might have been used in a partisan way.

Next, the Patna District Magistrate Pratima Verma and the SSP Vikas Vaibhav were the appointees of Nitish Kumar himself. Barely 12 days in the city, Pratima was transferred and Vikas was also ordered out as after 64 days in his new placement. It is alleged that Vikas was transferred because the Bihar police under his leadership chased and arrested a notorious JD-U MLA said to be a protégé of Nitish Kumar.

The EC did the right thing by restoring Pratima and Vikas to their postings to which they were entitled at least for three years, unless there were complaints of serious nature against them. We all know that demoralization sets in young officers, if they are shuffled around like this. They can’t give their best performance.

As a matter of historical fact, politicians in Bihar after the 1967 Samyukta Vidhayak Government became very vindictive at the officers of the IAS/IPS rank because they branded these Babus as the inheritors of the British day ICS bureaucrats. Some of the IAS/IPS officers had that mentality and they weren’t delivering. But, by and large they were young, qualified, dedicated civil servants who wanted to do justice to their job. At the same time, however, they found the ragtag bunch of political leadership utterly uncouth, incompetent, neo-feudal and corrupt. Therefore, they either hated and resisted these uninspiring politicians or became friendly and obliging to them.

Politicians like Lalu and Nitish are the products of that ragtag generation of politicians who became power wielders, abused their position to favor or punish bureaucrats, scolded them into obedience, or publicly humiliated them if they didn’t follow the unjust office procedures or orders. The psychology with leaders like Lalu, Nitish and a horde of semi-literate ruffians who became MLAs and ministers was that they always suffered from inferiority complex against the army of smart, creative and dynamic young officers selected through an all India competitive process. In merit, these ruffian politicians couldn’t even hold a candle to the IAS/IPS young officers.

In order to overcome their complex, the politicians began intimidating or luring the officers with transfers, coveted postings or out-of-turn promotions. Unfortunately, many from the IAS/IPS ranks were either demoralized or they started paying court to these politicians. They became willing partners for personal aggrandizement, showed the politicians how to rip the system off and betrayed the integrity of their professionalism. Lalu’s fodder scam was a living illustration. Because of the ill-treatment meted out to them, scores of IAS/IPS officers quit the services, took early retirement or moved out of Bihar. The civil societies in Bihar perished as the criminals took over politics and dominated administration.

During the earlier regimes or up until the term of Karpoori Thakur, the bureaucrats were pliable too, but were given due respect in return for their honesty and performance. In those years, the bureaucrats would line up and protest if there were unjust transfers, postings or promotions. But with the deterioration in politics, they too became grouped along the lines of caste or mentorship. During the tug of political war between Nitish Kumar and his nominee CM, Jitan Manjhi, two groups of bureaucrats reportedly propped up their respective mentors.

Ideally, any administrative practice that is tantamount to demoralizing or humiliating to one set of bureaucrats as against patronizing and promoting others must not be allowed. This can be ensured only when citizen-voters’ civil societies keep an eye on ministerial discriminatory behavior. No politician, party or alliance of any ideological persuasion should have a free hand in unduly punishing or rewarding the civil servants. There must be a departmental/ministerial committee supervised jointly by ministers and bureaucrats’ representatives to look after transfers and postings made on firm criteria. The bureaucrats will also have to be wedded to fairness in their professional relationship and will have to take almost a pledge that under no circumstance they would try to curry favor with politicians.

Stability, security, fairness and, above all, restoration of self-respect among civil servants can only bring efficient administration in Bihar. No political leader or party can produce results with a bureaucracy corrupt and demoralized. In case of impropriety, therefore, agencies like EC or judiciary will have to intervene.

Dr. Binoy Shanker Prasad hails from Darbhanga and currently resides with his family in Dundas, Ontario (Canada). He has authored conference papers, articles and chapters on Bihar in previously published books in the United States, India and Canada.

Dr. Prasad administers a facebook page: and has sponsored “Aware Citizenship Campaign” at a micro-level in his home-town.


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