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The Hindu Editorial Analysis | 16th October ’21 | PDF Download

Why India’s bureaucracy needs urgent reform? | IE

  • Like in every other profession, the bureaucracy has its share of the good, the bad and the ugly.
  • India’s civil services have some of the best and brightest as also some of the worst, just like in any collection of people.
  • And they are sitting atop a prickly, unionised, rules-obsessed, obdurate lower bureaucracy.
  • The bureaucracy that took India through the last 75 years can’t be the one to take it through the next 75.
  • We need a proactive, imaginative, technology-savvy, enabling bureaucracy.
  • The country could not have been held together post-Independence, and much of the impressive nation-building across sectors happened because of their dedication and commitment.
  • Bureaucracy is a creature of the Constitution and is bound by multiple rules, laws, and procedures.
  • Many of these rules are well past their expiry date.
  • As per estimates compiled by the Institute of Conflict Management, the government of India (GOI) has about 364 government servants for every 1,00,000 residents, with 45 per cent in the railways alone.
  • About 60 per cent and 30 per cent are in Groups C and D, respectively, leaving a skeletal skilled staff of just about 7 per cent to man critical positions.
  • Thus, the complaint that India’s bureaucracy is bloated is factually incorrect.
  • Further, faced with extensive judicial overreach (both justified and unjustified), reporting to an often rapacious, short-sighted political executive, and a media ever ready to play the role of judge, jury and executioner, the bureaucracy has in large part found comfort in glorious inaction and ensuring audit-proof file work.
  • Faced with such incentives, roughly half the bureaucracy becomes “the Wall”.
  • When an outstanding IAS officer like Pradip Baijal is pulled out of his hospital bed to be produced before the courts after the CBI closed an outlandish case against him, even the best officers become timid and cautious, lest something returns to haunt them years after retirement.
  • How to increase the officers’ willingness to take decisions?
  • One possible solution is to legally prevent enforcement agencies from taking punitive action, like arrest for purely economic decisions without any direct evidence of kickbacks.
  • Instead, a committee of experts with commercial experience constituted by the government should suggest whether it’s corruption or just a decision gone wrong.
  • The progress of last-mile connectivity and electronics for BharatNet
  • The recapitalisation and reform of failing banks
  • The distribution and transmission sectors
  • The privatisation of space
  • Some of this is due to a bureaucracy obsessed with accountability to processes and not to results.
  • Bad banks recapitalization
  • New development credit institutions
  • Renewable energy
  • Electric vehicles
  • Climate change
  • Global trade negotiations
  • Information technology
  • Modi’s toughest challenge is to change an inactive bureaucracy to one that feels safe in taking genuine risks.
  • Lateral entry needs to expand to up to 15 per cent of Joint/Additional and Secretary-level positions in GOI.
  • Remove half-hour interview process
  • After 15 years of service, all officers must undergo a thorough evaluation to enable them to move further.
  • India procures about $600 billion worth of goods and services annually — can’t all payments be done electronically?
  • Why not automate India’s $90 billion utility bills market at a time when UPI transactions worth Rs 6 trillion happen every month?
  • Can we not try to automate every major touchpoint between the government, citizens, and businesses?
  • India cannot hope to get to a $5-trillion economy without a modern, progressive, results-oriented bureaucracy, one which says “why not?” instead of “why?” when confronted with problems.
  • Make no mistake, despite working in a difficult, complex ecosystem, about a third of civil servants are doing exceptional work, better than their peers in the corporate sector.
  • The challenge remains to realign incentives institutionally, to move those who are honest yet don’t perform, send home those who steal/are non-performers and imbue more technology throughout the system.

Time to Do an Air India to BSNL | ET

  • The learnings from the privatisation process should lay the ground for more such deals.
  • The disinvestment of Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL).
  • Can we have a fourth operator, BSNL — especially if it’s merged with Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Ltd (MTNL) — that is reenergised post-privatisation.
  • With 120 crore (fixed and mobile) subscribers, one of the lowest tariffs and second-largest internet user base (75 crore broadband subscribers) in the world, India’s telecom network is the second largest in the world.
  • According to a GSMA’s study, ‘The Mobile Economy India 2016’ the telecom sector accounted for 6.5% of the national GDP in 2015, about ₹9 lakh crore ($130 billion), supporting direct employment for 2.2 million people in the country.
  • It estimates that the sector will contribute over ₹14.5 lakh crore ($200 billion) to the economy, and support 3 million direct jobs and 2 million indirect jobs by this year.
  • Telecom services are governed by the Indian Telegraph Act 1885, giving the GoI’s Department of Telecom (DoT) exclusive jurisdiction and privileges for establishing, maintaining, operating, licensing and oversight of all such communications.
  • In the 1999 New Telecom Policy (NTP-99), the policy and licensing functions of DoT were separated from its service provision functions.
  • As a precursor to corporatisation, the Department of Telecom Operations (DTO) was carved out for the purpose.
  • Accordingly, BSNL was formed on October 1, 2000, as a public limited company — not a statutory corporation — so as to be able to raise funds and be flexible for future disinvestment, be autonomous in its decisionmaking, providing universal service obligation (USO), etc.
  • It’s been used as an effective tool for implementation of socioeconomic objectives, providing telephony in rural, remote and security-sensitive areas, and playing the role of a market balancer.
  • As a corporatised entity, BSNL inherited the legacy obligations that included a large workforce of 3.63 lakh employees, about 10 times that in the private sector.
  • However, BSNL tried to reduce manpower through the voluntary retirement scheme, etc, as well as making investments in assets worth ₹1.5 lakh crore through internal accruals and borrowings.
  • Being a fully government-owned company, with limited flexibility and accountability for every action, has been a problem.
  • Which is when GoI decided on monetising its assets and preparing a National Monetisation Pipeline (NMP), which in telecom included assets worth ₹35,100 crore, 2.86 lakh km of optic fibre assets laid under BharatNet, 1,350 BSNL and MTNL mobile towers each, making a total of 69,047 towers for both entities.
  • BSNL’s huge infrastructure across the country makes it an invaluable national asset.


  • PM Modi says, Aatmanirbhar Bharat campaign aims to make India world’s largest military power on its own; Dedicates seven new Defence Companies to the nation
  • NEP providing option of teaching professional courses in local language, says PM; Performs Bhoomi Poojan ceremony of Hostel Phase-1 in Surat, Gujarat Virtually
  • President Ram Nath Kovind pays homage to War Martyrs at Kargil War Memorial in Drass
  • Finance Minister asserts inequity in vaccination coverage among countries a matter of concern; Calls for development of affordable and accessible health care systems
  • India’s COVID-19 vaccination coverage crosses 97 crore 14 lakh; Recovery rate stands at 98.07 percent
  • India, US reaffirm commitment to raise 100 billion US Dollars annually to tackle climate change
  • Union Home Amit Shah visits cellular jail in Andaman and Nicobar Islands
  • Lord Buddha’s message of world peace and Panchsheela’s philosophy guides whole world, says Gadkari
  • PM Modi condoles demise of Chairman Dainik Jagran Group Yogendra Mohan Gupta
  • 37 killed, 70 injured as blasts hit Shia mosque in Afghanistan’s Kandahar
  • South Korea to ease Covid restrictions next week amid increasing vaccination rate
  • UK MP David Amess dies after being stabbed at constituency surgery

Q.) India’s tea industry is currently facing worries due to duplicate Darjeeling tea being brought in from which country?

  • Sri Lanka
  • China
  • Nepal
  • Bangladesh

Q.) India’s trade with which country is set to exceed $100 billion for the first time in 2021, with shipments hitting $90 billion after three quarters?

  • China
  • USA
  • Japan
  • Sri Lanka


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