Debug Bureaucracy

According to the latest Morung Express weekly poll, almost 68 % respondents think that bureaucrats in Nagaland are inefficient although a majority of them also added the rider that bureaucrats in the State were capable and generally good administrators i.e. if they are allowed to be one by the politicians. However a section of those who voted against bureaucrats said they were corrupt and only knew how to abuse their power. Another interesting insight was that most of the time Nagas blame politicians, but politicians come and go and the people that should be held responsible for the sorry state of affairs in Nagaland are the bureaucrats. “For they keep hiding behind the politicians”, as one respondent said. Although only 23 % viewed them as efficient administrators, the general line of thinking is that people seem to be aware of the difficult and somewhat ‘uneasy’ relationship that politicians and bureaucrats have to share when it comes to practical realization of development goals and welfare objectives. At the end, both have their responsibilities clearly laid out. The important thing is that politicians and bureaucrats have their respective framework to operate from—for the former it is fulfilling the mandate of the people while for the latter; it is fulfilling the large scale administrative tasks. 

The one thing which unites them though is their responsibility of public service and it is here that the two must work in close partnership although controversy abounds on the nature of relation and how successive governments from the Congress to the NPF have politicized the bureaucracy to suit their political designs. And sadly, a handful of bureaucrats have always succumbed to the charms of the State politicians and tended to follow the ‘official ideology’ though in principle they are supposed to be politically neutral or noncommittal. It is important that bureaucrats remain impartial, anonymous and politically aloof if they are to remain essential to the system of parliamentary democracy while imbued with the spirit of service to the community. An ideal situation is where the Ministers are not tools in the hands of their civil servants and the civil servants are not stooges of their political chiefs. The one device by which bureaucrats have been made to dance to the tunes of politicians has invariably been the instrument of transfers and postings. Either there should be a uniform policy or at least the courts should ensure insulating at least the important and sensitive posts from this transfer instrument. 

In spite of all the opinions stacked against them, as one Morung Express reader commented, “bureaucrats in Nagaland have contributed to ideas and gone ahead in implementing it. Whether it is Village Development Boards (VDBs), Communitisation, Agri Expo or the ongoing Naga Idol, there has been a bureaucrat behind all these initiatives”. Mention must be made of IAS officers like A.M Gokhale and R.S Pandey and from the current crop two bureaucrats who stand out include the present Agriculture Production Commissioner and Deputy Commissioner of Mokokchung. The former should be largely credited for the Agri Expo 2006 and the Bamboo Mission initiative while the latter deserves full credit for taking the initiative of organizing the first ever Naga Idol and in the process he has tapped the positive energy of the youths of Nagaland for a noble cause. As such, if at all they are given more support and immunity from political interference, bureaucrats in Nagaland may turn out to be more effective than the Morung Express poll indicates.