|Prem Chandran … capital trends
By Prem Chandran
RETIREMENT, for Indian bureaucrats, does not signify an end to indulgences. Rather, they would keep taking hefty pension month after month and keep playing their games. They also might — might — try and divert the course of investigations and stall justice dispensation from the comfort of their homes. In the minimum, in their sunset years, they want to change India for the better — something they did not do on their own in the past. Here is one instance.
A bunch of 71 retired bureaucrats, one leg into the grave, yet wanting to act as a pressure group, wrote a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, urging him restraint in the matter of prosecution of present or former bureaucrats.
Their reference was to four former officials of the finance ministry in the INX Media case, in which former finance minister P Chidambaram is facing questioning at Tihar Jail now. They asserted that actions like prosecution would “demotivate diligent and honest officers from taking important decisions.”
The Indian bureaucracy, one of the most corrupt in the world for many years, is known less for efficiency in administration. The letter shows they would not keep quiet even after they are sent packing or are put in the doghouse. Among the 71 retired bureaucrats are former cabinet secretary KM Chandrasekhar, former foreign secretary and national security adviser Shivshankar Menon, former foreign secretary Sujatha Singh and former DGP Julio Riberio. They also felt there was “selective targeting” of officials by the Modi government.
The reference appears, in specific, to be against the governmental actions on former secretary Anup K Pujari, former director in finance ministry Prabodh Saxena and former undersecretary in department of economic affairs Rabindra Prasad in relation to the INX Media case, in which the Enforcement Directorate and CBI sleuths have gathered information about misdeeds at various governmental levels. The investigations are ongoing.
They also advised the government that there should be a time-frame after which old files should not be reopened for investigations — so that, retired bureaucrats can live the rest of their lives in peace.
Notably, these former bureaucrats had no word to say against the reigning corruption in the bureaucracy of which they were a part in the past. Corruption and fraudulent acts areeating into the veins of administration in India and the scenario is increasingly worsening, as is also evident from the array of bank scams in which senior-level officials failed to discharge their duties and allegedly took cuts from shady business interests.
Significantly, these old hats have joined hands to stall action, not prompt government to act, against corruption.
In India, action at government level is not arbitrary — or so we are made to believe. Action is based on investigation, trial and judgement. Agencies involved in these must be allowed to do their job and no interference is acceptable, even from the political side. The 71 bureaucrats are those who ran governmental institutions and know how these worked. Herein lies the truth or the lack of it. If these 71 bureaucrats do not have trust in these arms of the government, what they mean to say is all too obvious; that, their own hands were dirty.
It is difficult to take an IAS official, present or retired, to task because they are an organised lot. Several files relating to their misdeeds or acts of corruption or wayward actions, are not taken up for action at various administrative levels across the country, as senior officials allegedly scuttle investigations and punitive actions. Political masters, or ministers, are often at the mercy of such gangsterism, as had been reported in the past.