Prime Minister Narendra Modi has begun his second term in the office with a bang. His Government has sent some 12 officers of the Income Tax Department on Compulsory retirement. The government under rule 56 of the Department of Personnel and Administrative Reforms forced them to retire before superannuation. They will not be entitled to get the post-retirement benefit of pension. The officers who were punished were of the rank of Chief Commissioner, Principal Commissioner, and Commissioner belonging to the Indian Revenue Service. Officers were charged with corrupt practice, amassing wealth disproportionate to their known source of income and sexual harassment. The message is loud and clear. There will be no escape to corrupt and incompetent officers under the Modi Government. There will strong vigil on working of the officers. They will not be able to indulge in merrymaking and enjoying at the cost of public exchequer.
Although the rules to punish corrupt and inefficient officers are there from years, this is for the first time that the rule has been invoked to show the door to the corrupt ones. This is high time that the corrupt officers should mend their ways else they will lose their jobs. Who does not know how common man is harassed at the hands of these ‘babus’. Right from getting birth and death certificate to the settlement of power and water bills, the babus don’t work till they are paid a bribe. Their conscious is dead. I wonder how they face the members of their family at home. In a nutshell, the Modi Government is clear in telling the corrupt officers that if they don’t stop their corrupt practice, they will have to go. What position they occupy in the government will not be considered while awarding punishment to the guilty. In the latest action, senior rank officers of Income Tax Department were caught and punished.
There are two major benefits of this action of the government. First, young and honest men and women looking for employment will get the opportunity to work. Secondly, only those who deliver and work will survive in the government job.
If you are keeping a track of the performance of the Modi Government, you will recall that in its first term in office, the government had dismissed two officers of IPS (Indian Police Service) rank in Chhattisgarh. The officers concerned too faced serious charges. That meant inquiry was going on against the suspect officers.
Some 11828 officers of group A category and 19,714 officers of group B category were shortlisted for corrupt practices. The corrupt and inefficient officers are going through a bad time. However, such officers are hard to mend their ways. They alone can’t be blamed for this situation. This class of officers had field day before 2014. They worked with immunity to intimidate public and extort bribe for legitimate and illegitimate work. There are many who have sacrificed their self- interest for work.
Here I must say that there are good and honest officers also in government offices. It is not that all are corrupt. The government has started rewarding those officers who perform their duty with honesty and integrity in implementing various schemes and programmes of the government for the welfare of the people. It is a sad commentary that fellow officers don’t learn any lesson from honest and hardworking officers.
Officers should take a lesson or two from Neha Shourie, an officer associated with Zonal Licensing Authority near Chandigarh, Satyendra Dubey of National Highway and Manju Nath of Petroleum Department. These officers laid down their lives while doing their duty with honesty. They were murdered.
This is a fact, to follow the path of honesty and truth is difficult. But it is necessary to do this for the sake of the country. Honest officers must get support and protection from the government. The sword of ‘transfer’ should not dangle over their head. It has been seen that corrupt officers have always been harassing and torturing honest officers who were not allowed to work honestly. They were transferred frequently and faced hardship in life.
After seeing the bunch of incompetent and corrupt bureaucrats it must be said that officers like K Subramaniam (father of External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar), T N Chaturvedi, J N Dixit, Jagmohan, Rajdev Singh, P N Haksar, and T. N. Seshan are remembered today with great esteem. They belonged to that class of bureaucrats who were honest and impartial. They never had an image of being sycophant or stooge of politicians. They worked hard not for any personal gain but worked for the nation. The present-day officers who are in service should follow the example laid by the above-mentioned officers while doing their job.
In recent past few years, it was seen that some officers while in service used to establish proximity with powerful leaders. Their objective was clear. They eyed post-retirement jobs to continue to reap the benefit of office. Some other officers get close to or identify themselves with a political party to get the ticket of Lok Sabha, Rajya Sabha, or State Assembly.
There is an urgent need to introduce administrative reforms in service to streamline the working of officials in line with laid down terms. The reforms should clearly send a message to the bureaucracy that good work will be rewarded and bad work will be punished. The perception of officers being ‘damad’ of the government must end.
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