Sunday, 15 January 2012

The Leading Babudom of Asia

Welcome to Babudom - the Kingdom of babus.

Have no doubts,
They rule the roost.
Show no bouts,
When they steal your fruits.

As if India hadn't had enough of the kings ruling their provinces in the past, the inept, inefficient, money-monger rulers - the babus - seemed to have claimed the top spot, if only from the bottom-up.

Indian bureaucrats have been given a rating of 9.21 on 10 for the "terrific powers" they seem to make use of so well, which deems them terribly efficient, if only in corruption. However, is this a thing to be surprised at? I think none of us are surprised. It was a well-known fact. But as always, the power of numbers - often the representation of accountability - seems to have created an embarrassment, and a big one at that! After all, India likes to think of itself better than at least Vietnam, or South Korea, or Taiwan, or Philippines, or Malaysia, or Thailand.

Nope, sorry, they have bureaucrats who are able to do more.

In my recent post - Political Commentary For 2011 - The Year Gone By - I mentioned the "plummeting confidence in investing in Indian markets," which, among many things, "led to the crash of the rupee." This lack of confidence is a product of the wide-spread scope for graft allowed by the licence-permit raj, and the brakes that stop us while heading towards holding civil servants accountable. The world sees it; certainly, the investors - foreign or national - see it clearly, and hesitate making any investments, and in some cases, keep away from it, the result of which was slapped down our faces in the past year, and continues to leave us red-faced.

Pursuing the underpinnings of such an embarrassing performance takes us for a walk through our slow judicial processes and "fickle" regulations. That trying a corrupt official under the law is such a long and difficult task makes it even worse for investors and businessmen.

For the citizen, too, it spells a nightmare. You wouldn't need to move very far in order to find out for yourself. Just walk to the nearest state government office - the Regional Transport Office (R. T. O.) - and you will be caught in a web of bribes and snail-paced slow-moving, unnecessary processes. My experience at the R. T. O.  is recorded here - read it here

Although caught in the act, the one thing we ignore, as Indians, is that there are plenty of honest bureaucrats who are presently battling through such stormy environments put in place by the "system." Much too often, we treat bureaucrats and the corrupt as synonymous, but in most cases, it is far from truth. It is important as citizens of India that we put things in perspective and don't gun down every bureaucrat who walks the streets. Lately, a motivation towards getting ourselves immediately out of the rut has been flowing bottom-up, and is now resonating even among the top officials, bureaucrats and politicians. In the process, a number of bureaucrats have been ordered to move their belongings, only some, to the four-walled cells, that we so warmly call jails. Other measures like the installation of a Lokpal Bill and the institution of Lokayuktas can only have us positively move towards weeding out corruption.

Good things are due in the next few years. For now, we will have to deal with the blemish.

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