Part 13: Appointed Servants of the People

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The present structure of public bureaucracy in India is entirely based on colonial practices. The all India services, that is Indian Administrative, Police and Forest Services, are elite cadres designed to occupy top positions at the local, state andThe Imperial Bureaucracy national levels with accountability, earlier to the colonial rulers, now to the central government. Services controlled by and accountable to the state governments handle most local matters without any accountability to the local governments and the people. In some states such as Uttar Pradesh, even the municipal employees have been made into transferable state cadres.

Permanent but transferable departmental heads have become tools of major abuse in democracy. Favoured postings are often made based on heavy kickbacks, while forthright officers serving the people well are summarily transferred.

Centralisation and absence of accountability to the people has also led to the emergence of a massive corrupted bureaucracy creating heavy wasteful overheads, slowing down decision-making, and inflicting harassment on citizens due to multiplicity of authorities. Transfer of police officers based on political mechanisation has resulted in criminalisation of politics and politicising of crime. Creation of a large number of state authorities on local matters has added to the woes of the people.
 
In democracy, every local, state and national government should have its own slim bureaucracy accountable to the people, and not to any higher level government. The departmental heads should be protected from abuse through transfers and made accountable to the people. In short, a complete overhaul of public bureaucracy is called for. It will have to be appropriately phased to prevent dislocation in public management.
 
Article 13.1 Separate local, state and national services
(1) Every local, state and national government shall have its own slim bureaucracy handling respectively local, state and national matters. All recruitment to All India Services and to state services dealing with local issues shall be discontinued forthwith.
 
(2) The officers of the above services already in service will play a pivotal role in the process of restructuring the public bureaucracy. This will include restructuring the services, designing work systems, and preparing operating manual for various departments, such as local administration of justice, police, works, education, health-care, family welfare, land, water systems, forests, and minerals. They will field test and validate these manuals. They will also commission consultants to prepare working manuals for scientific regional planning using satellite imagery at the local, state and national level, re-iteratively coordinated, and norms for appointment of planning consultants for preparing the plans with the involvement of the people.
 
(3) They will assist the sovereign rights commissions in promoting transparency through the rights of the people to information, consultation, participation and referendum, and monitor its implementation.
 
(4) The chief district and city judges will take control over administration of local justice and coordinate with the district and city governors in providing adequate budget, restoring judicial powers to village panchayats, strengthening local courts, and streamlining procedures.
 
Article 13.11 Autonomous departmental heads
(1) Departmental heads identified by the chief executive shall be appointed on contract with the approval of the concerned parliament. Their services can be terminated only with its approval. They can, as a result, exercise professional autonomy, with accountability to the people.
 
(2) The elected chief executive shall, soon after his election, identify departmental heads either personally or, if he so wishes, though a selection process, and refer them to the concerned parliament for granting approval to the appointments. A joint appointments committee of the two houses of the concerned parliament shall interview the candidates and approve or reject them. In case a candidate is rejected, the chief executive shall have to propose another person.
 
(3) After approval, the departmental heads will be appointed on contract for four years terminating with the term of the chief executive. If the chief executive wants to terminate their services earlier, he can do so only with the approval of the appointments committee of the parliament. The departmental head will, as a result, be able to exercise professional autonomy and assert accountability to the people.
 
(4) The departmental heads will control appointment, transfers and removal of all staff reporting to them thus protecting them from political abuse. Thus a district police chief may not agree to politically motivated prosecution of any citizen or transfer of his subordinate.
 
Article 13.12 Pay scales and perquisites
A committee of the concerned council of stakeholders shall, whenever considered necessary, deliberate upon and from time to time review the principles on which pay scales and perquisites of professional and supporting staff shall be determined. The emoluments will be based on capabilities required and the responsibilities, and will be similar irrespective of whether an employee is in a local, state or national government.
 
Article 13.2 Armed forces
The President shall be the supreme commander of the armed forces. The three wings, army, navy and air force, shall be under the command of the Chief Commander of Army, Chief Commander of Navy and Chief Commander of Air force respectively. The chief commanders shall be appointed on contract for five years with the approval of a joint committee of the two houses of the national parliament. If for any reason their contract is to be terminated earlier, it can be done only with the approval of the said committee.

The senior most chief commander shall be the Chairman of the Committee of Chief Commanders. The committee shall, subject of the overall control of the minister in-charge defence appointed by the President, take all policy decisions. The chairman of the committee shall be ex officio Secretary to the Ministry of Defence advising the Minister on all issues relating to defence. An Assistant Secretary shall assist him in inter-ministerial coordination.
 
The National Sovereign Rights Commission shall constitute a committee to review derogatory colonial practices that are still in vogue in the armed forces. For instance, soldiers are often deployed for menial work. Further, the cadre of commissioned officers has been made elitist. A junior commission was created by the colonial rulers, to which soldiers could aspire to rise. It is still in existence. Such a position does not exist in good democracies and, theoretically, a soldier can become a general. The committee shall review all such practices and restructure the practices to suit a democratic environment.

 

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