THE CABINETS OF INDIA!

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THE CABINETS OF INDIA!

The top management of India Inc. and of the states are the cabinets created at the end of the general and state elections. They combined are called the government for whom the whole of the bureaucracy works. Cabinets are vested with collective responsibility giving another level of immunity to individual’s decision making, even though most of the issues are initiated by one member of the cabinet. The entry to the cabinet will always remain an enigma for the governance of this country. The criteria on which an individual is selected to take up the responsibility of one ministry or the other remains unknown. The expertise at the exit node also remains unknown. It would be a tough job to add a distinct expertise to a cabinet member even after serving for five or even ten years.

The talent pool which would be made available to you, would be from the people who have participated in the polls and then got elected. To get into the cabinet you should be a member of the ruling legislature party, otherwise you can’t  gain entry. Couple of times in coalition governments, MPs and MLAs belonging to the coalition partners do get a chance. What are the primary considerations to gain entry into the cabinet? What are the ground rules? These are the spoils of war of an election. The second is that all should be happy, the cabinet formation should not lead to dissent. There is a clear cut understanding in the minds of all claimants as to which ministries and which departments are important.

All considerations which are of no governance consequence and which the constitution does not provide for, are on full display; caste, creed, region, religion, gender and any other criteria which is  emergent in nature. The only issue that is missing is the governance experience and the expertise. The cabinet formation is a time of unending parleys, with show of strength and throwing of tantrums. There is no CV business and also there is no need for any expertise scrutiny either. The formation of the cabinet is a party affair and with the oath taking, they take over the governance of the country or the state. The reshuffles are even messier, the performance gets evaluated, the parameters unknown either for the ministers who are shown the door or the ones who are making their way into the  cabinet. Political scores are also settled through this tool.

The government formation in coalitions and running it is in itself the ultimate act in governance, what they deliver may not even be in public imagination. Coalition cabinets are at war with themselves. The formation of state cabinets has another added dimension, that of the high command in case of national parties.  High command calls the shots and all potential candidates owe allegiance to the high command and not to the mechanism provided by law in word and spirit. This is known as party discipline. So, the end result is that the members of the state cabinets have their godfathers in high command. The rebellious mood seems to persist through such cabinets. One odd CM may ride roughshod over the cabinet as if they don’t exist. This is the de facto cabinet system in the creation stage, its operations you have been experiencing all your life.

THE CABINET SYSTEM AS IS OPERATES IS ANTITHETICAL TO THE GOLDEN RULE OF RIGHT MAN FOR THE RIGHT JOB.

Sanjay Sahay

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