Bureaucracy reform necessary

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Late finance minister Arun Jaitley has once said that the government officials’ salary we have increased so that bribery will finish. Indian bureaucracy is infested with bribery since ages. When Vajpayee government decided to give government employees seventh pay commission, Jaitley had justified by this way. Former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi had publicly admitted that centre sends one rupee to people, but only fifteen paise reach to them. The remaining amount is eaten out by bureaucracy. These two examples have been given to show that bureaucracy has not improved in the context of bribery, in fact, it is stooped to below more and more. Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. These are two most cited quotes regarding power and rulers. Incidents of recent past regarding conduct of government officials have drawn the attention towards these two quotes. The Centre on Thursday shunted out IAS couple, both 1994 batch officers of the AGMUT cadre, outside Delhi, after it was claimed that athletes at the national capital's Thyagraj Stadium were being forced to finish their training early so that Khirwar could bring his dog to the facility for daily evening walk. ED recovered the Rs 18 crore, out of which Rs 17 crore were recovered from the house of a Ranchi-based CA, who serves as the Mining and Geology Secretary of Jharkhand.A Gujarat cadre IAS officer  was arrested by the CBI following searches at his home and other premises in connection to corruption allegations against him.These are just a few examples of the continuous moral degradation of bureaucracy. Just like politicians, bureaucrats too don't seem to have any accountability. They boast of the best of the salaries and government perks – all from the common taxpayer’s money. The common man, who has to slog everyday and in many cases put his life in the line of fire, has to part with a good chunk of his hard earned salary to the government supposedly for his or her progress. But it ultimately lands up in the upkeep of these bureaucrats whose greed and brashness know no limits. The dubious working style of babus is folklore in this country. The infamous term “red-tapism” is associated with functioning or rather non-functioning of a large section of bureaucrats, especially the senior lot. Many critical policies remain on paper because of the bureaucracy.According to a survey conducted by Transparency International in 2020 found that India had the highest rate of bribery in Asia. The survey, Global Corruption Barometer-Asia (GCB), found that India has the highest overall bribery rate (39%). The problem may have partly to do with the rigid structure of our administrative services. Much power is concentrated in the hands of the top few. Surprisingly, there are just about little over 5000 IAS officers for a country of over 1.3 billion people. Expansion has been slow while the problems have become complex. The IAS system needs openness to change. The entire system has to be cleaned up. There is a common perception that it is the IAS officers who run the country and not the politicians as they change with every election and cabinet rejig. This gives the bureaucrats the confidence that they can get away with anything. The other side of the story is the habit of political leadership of transferring honest officers as punishment, which is detrimental in a bureaucrat performing honestly.  Prime example of this government action is Ashok Khemka. A 1991-batch officer of the Haryana cadre, this honest officer has been transferred 54 times in his 31 years of service. Such actions send a wrong signal not only to the bureaucracy but also to the entire nation.