DailyPost 2052

What can a non-subject generalist deliver is the biggest question facing the country? On the one hand we have the political executive, a member of which can be called administration green horn, notwithstanding one odd exception here and there. They claim to be learning the ropes of the job on the field. If it was so easy to learn without any effort, we would have ended up with at least a few experts now. On the other hand, we have the generalists not belonging to any subject, they are non-subject generalists, how can one really pick up wide and diverse subjects at the drop of a hat, or in government parlance, on the mere issuance of a government order, with no academic training or practice whatsoever.

The people who join the portals of power with huge promises, end up in a whimper every few years, the unlucky ones even earlier. The non-generalists, that the political executives primarily are with the only qualification of having won an election. The election victory parade lands them into a ministerial office, if they have the clout. The political strongmen should get more powerful offices is the accepted dictum of the day. Possibly, nothing else can be done. Still at times, the whole of the elected class cannot throw up a finance minister or an external affairs minister; may it be Manmohan Singh of the nineties or Jaishankar of today. What the political executives have done of these positions is left to people’s scrutiny and judgement.

Coming to the bureaucracy, the non-subject generalists; the ones who have some subject matter academic education and practice before entering bureaucracy, decide to drop it at the first entry into the famed portals of powers. When they get into a new posting, they land with the promises of a new era to end up into a whimper, when they move out, to get into the same cycle once again. There is no denying the fact that below them are the domain trained practitioners. Over a period of time, they pick the tricks of the trade of the non-subject generalist boss and start behaving accordingly. More often than not the work is outsourced, what in governance parlance is known as tender. Imagine of a situation where a coder is supervised by a non coder.

How can you run a city, without knowing city planning and that too with the complexities our metros have. In Bangalore, is it so easy to understand the major drains, storm water drains, tank beds, drainage, sewage, rain water harvesting and varieties of city planning issues unattended over the years and deliver. All the above needs to be connected with the quantum of likely rainfall. How do we get ready for the monsoons every year, to get caught into it year after year. Visiting different locations is what all can be done. That we see on a regular basis by non-subject generalists. All have learned to manage with some half baked facts and figures, with no physical performance of quality to back. Fire fighting becomes the only mode of existence. Jugaad our fate. Just an example, it’s the same story everywhere. Do we still have to rattle our minds to understand that a veteran technical executioner can learn requisite governance and administration. It has never happened the vice versa, it can never happen.

Sanjay Sahay

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