One of the serious accusations leveled by opposition in Bihar against Nitish Kumar is that he has been subdued by the bureaucracy instead of subduing it. This could be true. But is this a problem in Bihar alone?
However, let us examine this with reference to Bihar.
Bureaucracy is stronger in the hands of weak political masters in a democracy. Where the government consists of statesmen (not bare politicians) with strong conviction and sound knowledge of governance, principles, propriety of rules and law (not the bare memorization of statutes and enactments) with its cause and effect on the society where it is to be administered, bureaucracy is compelled to render public services. In absence of such politically enlightened people, it only prospers like Nero who was enjoying music when Rome was burning.
For bureaucracy in Bihar and how sluggish it is, can be found at government internet sites. You log on to ‘bihar.nic.in’ or ‘onlinebihar.gov.in’ and you will see a host of email addresses of officers including the Secretaries but seldom will you find one responsive. It appears that an impression is being created to hoodwink the people of much talked about e-governance. It may be a sincere effort of Nitish Kumar to narrow down the gap between the people and the government by using the internet which probably he had experienced in his days in Indian Railway. It was a great success there. But it is Bihar where he failed to feel the nerves and characters of his officers whom he entrusted with this responsibility.
One another example is the very first page of the government internet site where the following news headlines are playing for nearly more than six months.
"Antony for speeding up defence procurement procedures
Speaker asks scientists to help reverse global warming
Govt to construct 15 lakh houses under JNNURM
Arjun Singh launches National Mission on Education
Sonia inaugurates longest cross-country oil product pipeline………"
It seems the time has stood still for them who are given the responsibility to maintain and take the state forward. Needless to say the website is maintained by the officers of the Bihar government.
Apathy of this breed of officers, has just surfaced in public domain which the opposition, particularly RJD and LJP, is giving full throttle to the controversy of AC/DC bills purportedly a big treasury ghotala. If you happen to talk to the headmasters and teachers in Bihar who are now burning the midnight oil to prepare their accounts, they plead complete ignorance to have any information about the fact that they will ever be required to account for the funds they were given to spend as it was their first experience to execute the construction works or make purchases for books and midday meals. A class who was in the past always skeptical even for his monthly salary, such massive developmental funds were windfalls for it and having no financial or technical know-how, it did its best in the prevailing circumstances. In a strange and funny way, in large many cases, the instructions would travel from Patna secretariat by words of mouth or on mobile and if at all written instruction would come in some cases, it will have a minimal description which again would fall prey to the ambiguous explanation of the immediate boss whosoever he may be. Ironically the accountability is now being fixed for the last man in the chain of bureaucratic tangle and the one who should be held responsible for the entire malady, has turned a monitor. This communication gap between the executives and the executors has maligned the head of the Bihar government who almost got subjected to CBI grilling and in turn also offering his opponents a chance to score political mileage.
This situation is well summarized by Brooks Atkinson in these words, "The perfect bureaucrat everywhere is the man who manages to make no decisions and escapes all responsibility."
S. S. Thakur, Guest Contributor, PatnaDaily.Com