Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Bureaucrats in India

Let professionals run Air IndiaM K Venu Tuesday July 28, 2009 ,Economic Times

The bureaucrat, especially of the IAS variety, is indeed a strange creature. By and large, the IAS instinct is to keep getting promotions, as far as possible, by not doing anything proactively. There is a sound logic to this evolved art of not doing anything . For, if you become too proactive the chances of making mistakes become high. For instance, E Sreedharan is a highly regarded doer, and he has made some mistakes while trying to implement the Delhi MRTS project within deadline. This is the moment a typical babu waits for.

Governance comes to a standstill when everyone waits for the others to make a mistake . A time comes when there are no mistakes , and no action! Prime Minister Manmohan Singh needs to seriously do something about this aspect of governance.

Sreedharan has amply demonstrated his implementation skills and is hugely popular among the people. The IAS lobby, which was perhaps waiting for Sreedharan to make a mistake, must now realise that the times have changed. People would prefer guys who make mistakes and yet do something substantive on the ground.

A current example of a good project given a bad name by safe-playing bureaucrats is the merger of Air-India with Indian Airlines . Union civil aviation minister Praful Patel has taken a lot of flak for floundering on the merger project. The truth is the idea of a merger between A-I and Indian Airlines is very sound but the babus, who zealously protected their turfs, did not want to implement it sincerely.

Some of the bureaucrats involved in the project have since got good promotions and hold positions in the rank of secretary to government . ..................

Coming back to Air-India and Indian Airlines, Praful Patel has yet another chance to put through the merger project and make the new entity accountable with a professional management running it. The merged entity, National Aviation Company of India Ltd (NACIL) has accumulated losses of over Rs 7,000 crore till March. ............ The Rs 3,000 crore annual deficit is the crux of the problem. The situation worsened last year as global aviation industry was hit by a severe recession. .......... In desperation, Jet and Kingfisher had even announced a strategic alliance last year to cut costs.

Therefore, it makes eminent sense for A-I and Indian Airlines to cut costs by optimising resource usage. ........... The employee to aircraft ratio is currently at over 220, which is much higher than the norm of 110 to 130 persons per aircraft.
Shockingly, in the year of the worst aviation recession, Air India gave its employees productivity-linked bonuses. This was about 10% of the total costs. . ...........................................................

Perhaps NACIL can phase out its full aircraft acquisition programme until its cash flows improve. ............. The focus of the new management must be on cost cutting and returning to positive cash flows. There is no rocket science in this. .............

Above all, Praful Patel must induct a professional board of directors and a committed CEO to run NACIL. We certainly don’t need another bureaucrat who just believes in marking time before moving onto the next promotion!

For full article see

I cannot more than agree with Mr Venu !! It is something seen to be believed!!

Mythili Bhusnurmath Monday June 08, 2009
India's suffocating bureaucracy ranked the least-efficient

India's suffocating bureaucracy was ranked the least-efficient by the survey, on 12 economies released last week by the Hong Kong-based Political & Economic Risk Consultancy (PERC). Indian bureaucrats trailed those from Singapore, Hong Kong, Thailand, South Korea, Japan, Malaysia, Taiwan, Vietnam, China, Philippines and Indonesia in that order.‘Working with the country's civil servants was a slow and painful process,’ said the PERC. ‘They are a power centre in their own right at both the national and state levels, and are extremely resistant to reform that affects them or the way they go about their duties.’

So what’s new, the average citizen, long at the receiving end of bureaucratic idiosyncrasies might be tempted to respond. Bureaucrats, however, protest they are more sinned against than sinning and claim their hands are often tied by their political masters. Possibly!

At the same time since the success or otherwise of government programmes will be used as a yardstick in evaluating the performance of bureaucrats in charge of these programmes, bureaucrats too will have to look sharp and perform..........old definition of civil servants – they are neither civil nor do they serve. But who knows, if our bureaucrats move up even a couple of notches in PERC’s league tables, we’ll have much to be thankful for!

For full article see

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