DailyPost 1694

Leadership has been taught to bureaucrats and private sector managers since at least a few decades back. The amount of money invested in making them ready as a leader and also time and effort, is with the purpose of delivering something transformational. What is at the crux of this exercise is first and foremost is to make you both independent and audacious. If you don’t have to go for the moon, then these programs for team lead type tasks or the gradual progression of life in the bureaucratic hierarchy, does not make any sense. Carrying out orders can never become leadership however much extraordinary it might be.

We have the political leadership whose explicit display of power has now become the norm. Their battle for leadership positions in the  government at the time every new government formation is legendary. Either to lead the nation or a state or become an important minister  is dependent on the leadership qualities the individual possesses for that task remains unknown even till today. Are the qualities of being a winnable leader the same as leading a government or any ministry with unimaginable complexities? The political leadership’s knack of garnering votes, having followers of all types and having knowledge of ground level political nuances enough for his governmental leadership role. Additionally, that mindset  creeps into the government is a big way.

It is just next to impossible for the same person to be an active political functionary with all his leanings and failings to be objective, fair, transparent, in full grip of the complexities and having time and energy to deliver leading a government or a ministry / department. Given this predicament can it be presumed that the bureaucratic leadership has been mandated to fill the gap. There is a difference in being a bureaucrat and having the great trait of leadership – the bureaucratic one – emanating out of the Steel Frame of yesteryears and the present assembly line ones. So the role which this leadership has to play is to bring into reality whatever has been decided by the governments, by way of Cabinet decisions, minister’s decisions, policies and the like. How much of role he plays in the decision making is another story.

With the ever-increasing political grip, has the bureaucracy become averse to active  leadership role? Can he push his objective delivery agenda as the political executive does? If so, can even the approved projects, inclusive of the life saving ones, see the light of the day; the oxygen plants cleared last year is a case in point. The fate of the rural health infrastructure, though existing in the same manner ever, is out in the open today. Rural areas is where the young bureaucratic leadership takes shape. The incapability to run Oxygen Supply Chain in the midst of the biggest humanitarian crisis the country is faced with, does not speak of such a leadership, if it does exist. Ditto for the rampant black marketeering in live saving drugs. Its time to resurrect the bureaucratic leadership before it’s lost forever. Have we lost our life saviour as cog in the wheel of the behemoth called government?


Sanjay Sahay

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