Coup in India

What if there was a coup in India – not by armed forces but by administration. Chief Secretary takes charge and all politicians are removed. Will the governance suffer? For better or worse? All that the coup shall do is eliminate top layer of policy making. A layer that is superfluous in any case. Politicians are nor portfolio experts neither experienced in matters of governance. They rely totally on inputs from the administration & advisers. One thing is for sure that the country will save lacs of crores of rupees that is spent on upkeep of politicians. Corruption would be less if only due to the sheer reduction in number of takers.

One could argue that the IAS brigade might be no better. True. Could they be any worse? Unlikely. Atleast they have the qualifications & experience & hopefully values that better resonate with middle classes – the backbone of the civil society.

Let’s discuss this. Put forth your point of view. Dont be silent.

One could improve on this model by introducing a thin political layer. Let’s say we elect only the PMs & CMs who in turn choose their teams not from politicians but administrators supplemented by external subject matter expert advisors.

My first post on this forum was entitled “Govt needs an OD overhaul”. By & large, the consensus is that we have a large government machinery that is ineffective. It is elephantine & slow to respond. We the citizens are paying for sustenance of this governance without getting bang for the buck. If we were to analyse how to maximise value, we will seek to eliminate the most expensive & least bothered layer. We instinctively know that is the political layer. Lets dig in & find out if our instinct is backed by the facts or not. Pl contribute to this discussion.

3 Responses to “Coup in India”

  1. Ashutosh Malik says:

    I have doubts whether this will work.

    Politics, irrespective of how bad it seems, provides the grease (and here I mean the real one) that makes the larger system work. And the system of governance based on elections provides an opportunity, howsoever imperfect for the common woman and man to elect someone who they think understands them or represents them.

    Any system where we have the bureaucracy governing has been tried in Pakistan, Bangladesh etc., to take examples closer to us. After all, the armed forces are also bureaucracies! And the logic has been always the same – that the Pakistanis will have a better system, that politicians are corrupt etc. etc. Yet it has not worked better on an average than our system even on parameters of good administration and it has brought in problems of the military bureaucracy trying to benefit itself at the cost of others – to the extent that the Army there benefits itself more than it the benefits and power available to the Airforce and the Navy there. The Army in Pakistan is a bigger business than anything else. It has also created its own issues where the subtleties of governance have been dealt with hamhandedly. The pseudo democracy of Iran is another interesting example where the Republican Guard has become more powerful than others in the system.

    There are various questions that could be asked. A few of them could be as follows:
    1) Who will Civil servants be responsible to?
    2) How will they be appointed?
    3) How will they be dismissed?
    4) What role will the people have?
    5) Why are we assuming that Middle Class can decide the good of the nation?
    6) What is the frequency with which the rulers will be changed? How will they be changed?
    7) Why should we assume that a bureaucracy will always be enlightened rulers?

    I have a feeling that when we in the middle class seem to miss out the true worth of politics and politicians. One reason could be that since we hardly participate in the politics we always think ‘they’ are worse than us. Second I think we probably tend to think that governance is just about efficiency.

    My sense and belief is that Politics, particularly, in a large, heterogenous nations like ours, provides that middle ground where the multitude participates, feels empowered and has its voice heard. Politics provides that stretchability to the system that helps keeps it together and maintains the various parts from gnashing against each other – which would happen if it were just a bureacractic state. A bureaucratic state could in fact turn out to be typically unimaginative, hidebound and at times unable to see beyond what the rule book states.

    Those are just some of the thoughts. One can discuss more as we go along.

    Best regards,

  2. Power corrupts, and the coup starter is likely to be just as bad or worse – I’m not sure why you write off “worse”. Consider this: We have a coup, everyone’s happy that the the politicians aren’t there anymore, and then the new leaders decide to pay themselves handsomely, become non-transparent, misuse taxes – because they have the authority to, and because there’s no one powerful enough to question them.

    A latin saying is “who’s watching the guards?” (Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?)

    Also, politicians must decide based on advisory input – whoever is in power must, that is. It’s when they don’t that problems happen – think of the recent Home Ministry-External Affairs Ministry fiasco of changing the Indian visa system.

    I don’t think we are quite as bad off in terms of governance, yet;we need a better structure for influencing policy change, though.

  3. Naveen says:

    First of all Thanks Ashu, Thanks Deepak for your detailed reasoned comments. Ashu, I agree that politics cannot be disbanded. Deepak, I agree that we need a better structure. Therefore in my post, I had proposed a thinner layer of politics where PM & CMs are named candidates and directly elected. They in turn form their teams from amongst the civil servants and appointed experts. What do you think?

    Should we to apply a best practices strategy from successful systems across nations, I think we can vastly improve our system. Status quo gathers entropy and such debates must be animated to continually revitalize the system. There are plenty of positives in India but of late we seem to gloat at a rating of “Satisfactory Under-performance”.

    Not only we can do better, it is imperative for us to do so. So many Asian nations that were laggards have raced ahead of us.

    Middle Classes symbolise a launch base. The vast populace of underclasses look towards the middle classes to set their aspirational levels. That fuels the societal progress.

    Ideal nation building would be to have a uniform middle class lifestyle for all with minimal disparities. How to acheive that is exactly what socialism vs. capitalism battle has been all about.

    I look forward to more interactives. Pl keep this idea exchange process alive.

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