DailyPost 2512

The functional synthesis of the political and permanent executive is directly proportional to the quality of governance in the country. While the nature of their creation has been provided in detail, how the functional synthesis will happen, does not have a place in our legal statutes and mandate. So, to say, it presumed that it would happen and things would get delivered as detailed at the legal theoretical level. Suffice to say, it has not happened that way. The friction between the two are sometimes ugly and keep appearing in the media quite often. Sometimes the consequences of this friction are immensely detrimental to the individual and bring disrepute to the bureaucracy.

The sourcing of the two streams is radically different. One through elections, the basic premise of entry is being successful in an election. Politics is the only qualification as seen in practice. They get that position through political clout post electoral success. The clout decides the ministry / department and is provided with deputy to cabinet rank status. Personal loyalty to the head of the cabinet / outside leader of his political party is all that matters. The ministry / department has nothing to do with educational qualifications, training, expertise or practice. They are there for only five years. Having to face the electorate every five years they generally have a different agenda with reference to good quality governance of the nation.

The permanent executive is the creation of highly competitive cut throat competitive exams at all levels of entry. Their education, capabilities and antecedents are doubly validated. They are comprehensively trained for the tasks they would be assigned to do. At whatever age they join but for a few exceptions, they would retire at the age of 60. A neat career spanning over three decades has to be made based on regular performance appraisals and a variety of other factors. Their tasks, targets, goals are mostly pre-defined and they have to perform accordingly. There is a standard governance and financial parameters in which the governance has to be delivered. Permanent executive is mandated to provide the bulwark of expertise to the political executive and also to provide the continuity in administration.

The underlying presumption coming out of our first-generation leaders was that they would come from well-educated background, having professional knowledge, will and capability to deliver governance. The policy making, decision making political executive would be super ably supported by the permanent one, with all the wherewithal to deliver. To fulfil the vision, goals, manifestos, the two work together with no friction. The law does not see any friction between the two. When governance and welfare started giving way, and political agenda became the sole agenda, nascent cracks between the two started getting deeper. Expertise, knowledge, legality and financial control and propriety went out of circulation. These traits were not sought after. Over a period of time the political executive gained full control and the permanent executive kept caving in to unimaginable levels. Today, the presence of the permanent executive is barely felt in the public domain. The immunity provided to permanent executive was supposed to provide the spine to battle out for the right cause, a professional one and not allow things to go haywire. The permanent executive should resurrect its professional space in the interest of the nation. Political diktat cannot become synonymous with governance. What is left of continuity in governance then?

Sanjay Sahay

Have a nice evening

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