Sheikh Pervez Hameed

A passionate India loving Indian, delighting in its glory yet not blind to its follies, shortcomings and dark side.

Indian Bureaucracy Accountability - possible jail for Chief secretaries?

Indian bureaucracy red tape snake

Jail for Chief secretaries, says Moily, the Power Minister in The Hindustan Times 20th August 2012 edition.

The Minister has said that he plans to bring in an legislation plus amend the Electricity Act 2003 to enable provisions for imprisonment of state officials, including the Chief secretaries if the power is overdrawn from the grid.

This is in response to the two massive blackouts that happened in July 2012, when nearly 40% of Indian citizens were bereft of electricity for nearly 12 to 24 hours in the first black out and nearly 70% Indian citizens were denied power for nearly 12 hours in the second blackout that followed just within 36 hours, after the first blackout. It was a big slap on India, on its aspiration to be a global power and on its state of Administration.

I welcome this step but am saddened as well.

See how quickly the people in power respond to a crisis when it hits them. The blackout was big and has the potential to significantly hurt the elected representatives electorally. So, now the Minister not only seeks accountability, but wants to introduce and enforce punishment! On the government officials!!!!!!

"Only the wearer knows where the shoe pinches" is an old saying, but timeless saying and very much in evidence here.

What is my grouse? My grouse is simple. As ordinary taxpaying citizens, on a daily basis, I and all fellow citizens are doing crisis management due to flawed and myopic policies, rules and their implementation. The sad part is that even though we pay through our noses, we can't call for accountability and just forget about any punishment of govt. officials.

As a citizen of this country, I demand accountability and eventual punishment to the government officials who fail to deliver. This is what Anna Hazare campaign was about which the political parties cleverly subverted it in the Parliament but will be foolish to ignore the people's sentiment.

Even in his speech on the Independence Day, the Prime Minister Man Mohan Singh promised more transparency in government administration. But he was quick to add that the measures for increased transparency should not affect the decision making abilities of the officials! In my view, this is back to square one! Nothing substantial or meaningful will happen, so it seems.



The day the bureaucrats realise that it shall add to their esteem and prestige when they represent a more powerful, responsible, just and infrastructurally enabled India. This India can only happen when the bureaucrats act as enablers instead of hurdle creators and spoilsports.


Numerous examples exist in India, where, when well-meaning bureaucrats have played the role of enablers and transformed for better the area of their impact. One example that quickly comes to mind is Ms Santha Sheela Nair, the IAS officer who enforced water harvesting in Chennai, converting it from a water deficient city to now a water capable city.

I quote:

She forced the law that within a year all houses and industries had to connect rain water harvesting systems. There was resistance for the move at first, but later the system has shown a lot of improvement in Chennai’s water woes.

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