Under Modi govt, civil servants bearing the brunt of collapse

Under Modi, the civil service has lost its ability to deliver but enhanced its ability to unleash repression

Photo courtesy: social media
Photo courtesy: social media

Anand Paliath

People at large seem unaware that young IAS officers too have begun to face mob lynching, especially in BJP ruled states, because national media and TV channels are silent on the issue. Most of the officers lynched are themselves from marginalised backgrounds.

Two cases of mob violence against 2015 Batch officers, one a lady , in Nandurbar district of Maharastra have occurred in August, after at least three more in the recent past. The entire edifice of the Indian State is crumbling as its institutions are undermined, captured and destroyed and the social fabric of the country is stretched to breaking point .

Young IAS officers in field positions administering on the ground among the masses are the first to bear the brunt of this collapse. Panicky young officers are asking seniors what to do. But few of the seniors are in a position to suggest anything that might be effective. Senior IAS officers are of course relatively safe in capital cities and also because they have built up a network with corporate and political connections.

The situation on the ground partly explains why a section of young officers have naively started declaring their allegiance to the party in power. Some have declared their intention to contest elections and ‘serve’ the party and the people. This appears partly to be a defensive action in the hope that it would shield them from public wrath.

The choice before society is clear. Either create a committed civil service and follow the American spoils system or scrupulously maintain a neutral and permanent civil service.

People in several northern states have ceased to see the Government as benevolent and young, IAS officers as just, fair, pro-people and non-partisan public servants. As public fury builds up against a crumbling system that has retained the ability to unleash repression but lost the ability to deliver services, field officers are bearing the brunt of such fury. Field officers on the ground do not have the luxury of personalized and systemic police protection in cities, secretariats and official residence and the panic among them is growing. The choice before society is clear. Either create a committed civil service and follow the American spoils system or scrupulously maintain a neutral and permanent civil service.

  • The façade of a neutral civil service cannot be maintained by relentlessly creating a core of committed bureaucracy loyal to a particular ideology or political party.
  • The choice is between a non-partisan, fair, neutral and secular bureaucracy and a hard, fascist, militaristic and theocratic bureaucracy. Theocratic absolutist Model Hypocrisy is fine at top levels.

But on the ground while dealing directly with the masses, you have to be transparent and totally fair in order to win the confidence and trust of the people, necessary to administer effectively. Police and politicians can get away but civil servants and IAS officers responsible for the delivery system at ground level, cannot.

In a way, those at cutting edge level are bearing the entire brunt of a corrupt, brutal and inefficient state system. The pressure cooker of public anger is at bursting point and voices of dissent are merely its safety valves. As the misery of the masses increase, social tensions tend to rise and people’s capacity for suffering is stretched. Something ‘s got to give. We can ignore the rumblings on the ground at our own peril. We should see these instances of virtual mob lynching of IAS officers as signs of great danger for society and the nation. We clearly need a major course correction.

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