Straitjacketing Progress

Written by The Financial Express | Updated: Mar 31 2012, 06:38am hrs
When the government appointed Nandan Nilekani as the head of its UID programme, there was much applause for its final acceptance of the need for inculcating a private sector work ethic and mindset within a government framework. The same happened with Sam Pitroda, P Raghu Raman and several others. Finally, it was thought, government inefficiency will be tackled by men who know how to get things done. But that was not to be. In a note to the PM, Pitroda, representing the group of corporate leaders in government jobs, asked him to streamline the framework under which they perform their duties once they become part of the government. In plain speak, they were asking the PM to make it easier for them to get things done, without bureaucratic hurdles stymieing them at every turn. Now, this is a sad state of affairs, since the very reason these men were hired was because they had the required know-how and skills to get the job done in an efficient manner. Its a complete waste of their talent if unneeded bureaucratic procedures hampers them in even the simplest things. Raghu Raman, the CEO of NATGRID, for example, has reportedly not even been able to hire the people he wants for the last 18 months! Arun Maira, was similarly blocked when he tried to reform the Quality Council of Indiathe astounding thing is that he was appointed as QCI chairman by the PM himself, presumably to do exactly what he was unable to do.

Pitroda made several suggestions to the PM on how to better organise government departments and improve their efficiency, a monitoring and facilitation cell directly under the PM being just one of them. The larger point is that its high time the government reformed the way it works at the bureaucratic level, not just when they are dealing with employees from the corporate sector, but in general, so as to increase efficiency and transparencynothing exemplifies this need better than the CAG report, which says the PM was in favour of coal block auctions back in 2004, but seven years hence, theres been zero progress made.