How Politicians Misuse Civil Servants?
A few were very concerned regarding the current governance practices, which are being impacted by decisions that appear to be politically motivated but have a long-ranging unfavorable impact on the system.
Some primary questions which deserve our attention are:
Why are honest civil servants distressed in this crossfire?
How does this crossfire impact governance?
How do culprits get away?
Can honest officers isolate themselves from this crossfire?
For a politician, civil servants are forms of tools that can be used, misused and, on occasion, even abused.
There could also be times where the political leader disowns a decision that he or she consciously took when it is subsequently ‘discovered’ to be wrong.
The politician often get away with the problems.
For instance, former PM Manmohan Singh had taken the final decision concerning the allocation of coal blocks during UPA-2 but passed the buck by telling the CBI that it was the duty of coal secretary to highlight guidelines vis-a-vis allotment.
If it could be done by a PM who has the reputation of being honest, it can easily be done by any politician.
The harm this crossfire does to governance is exceptional, especially if honest officers are implicated. The officer feels downcast and demoralized. The civil services start having second thoughts about honesty being the best policy.
And the dishonest feel quite justified about their conduct. Decision making gets effected. Such crossfire leads to suspicion. Decisions are taken for ‘dishonest’ purposes or they are not taken at all, or they are delayed.
The offenders get away because the enforcement machinery is busy chasing the honest and does not have the time, energy, or inclination to pursue cases against the real ones.
The wrongdoers are not only well-connected, they are well-equipped as well. Thus, it is even more difficult to ‘ground’ those who have the capacity to ‘fly’ away from the country.
The great escape
It requires discipline, knowledge of rules and procedures, strict adherence and some sacrifice to get out of a political crossfire.
Knowledge itself won’t help. The civil servants have to inhibit the courage to express it and bring it down to the notice of the political decision maker.
It shall not be very ‘suitable’ to do so, but the price of not performing it may turn out to be higher than the immediate ‘irritation’ of the politician.