Table of Contents
THE CONTEXT: The Centre has asked all departments to deploy officers to showcase its achievements across the country down to the village level, through a roadshow titled Viksit Bharat Sankalp Yatra, which will run from November 20 to January 25, 2024. This circular reportedly issued by the Department of Revenue, Ministry of Finance, on the nomination of bureaucrats as “rath prabharis” has sparked a political row.
ISSUES WITH THE MOVE:
- Politicisation of the bureaucracy and the military: Joint Secretaries, Directors, and Deputy Secretaries will be appointed Rath Prabharis (chariots in-charge) for the roadshow. Also, the Ministry of Defence is setting up 822 ‘selfie points’ at prominent locations which is being seen as politicisation of the bureaucracy and the military.
- Outreach limited to nine years: The outreach is only about achievements of the last nine years that corresponds to the two terms of the ruling government that began in 2014. The campaign is conveniently timed for the Lok Sabha election, which is expected in April-May 2024, and is evident to be used in electoral politics.
- Partisan roles: Such directives force bureaucrats into partisan roles in furtherance of the interests of the ruling party. It can damage the institution’s independence and functioning. This assigned role also goes against the task assigned to those bureaucrats and shrinks the vital degrees of separation.
- Electoral politics: The drafting of civil servants into government propaganda ahead of elections is quite disturbing and indicates towards electoral politics. The use of bureaucracy for short term gains at the cost of governance is affecting the representative democracy.
THE WAY FORWARD
- Separation of power: India’s constitutional scheme of governance envisages the separation of power among the three arms of the state: the executive, the judiciary and the legislature. There is also a line of separation between the bureaucracy and the military from the political executive and thus they need to be insulated from partisan politics.
- Ensure free and fair electoral process: The extensive election process in India has largely retained its credibility because of the bureaucratic impartiality demanded by the system. The military’s involvement in any kind of domestic politics is considered wrong. Civil and military officials are expected to remain loyal to the government elected by the citizens, regardless of their personal ideological inclination.
- Immediate withdrawal of circular: There is a need of urgent withdrawal of circular as it is not fair to direct soldiers on annual leave to promote government schemes. The bureaucracy must be neutral and independent, and especially in polarised times for imparting stability to governance.
It is the responsibility of the government that the lines of governing principles are not crossed and it should be ensured that the bureaucracy must be neutral and independent to ensure public trust in the system’s functioning.
PREVIOUS YEAR QUESTION
Q. Resorting to ordinances has always raised concern on violation of the spirit of separation of powers doctrine. While noting the rationales justifying the power to promulgate ordinances, analyze whether the decisions of the Supreme Court on the issue have further facilitated resorting to this power. Should the power to promulgate ordinances be repealed? (2015)
MAINS PRACTICE QUESTION
Q. The designation of bureaucrats as ‘’Rath Prabharis’’ to highlight the achievement of the government leads to the politicisation of bureaucracy’. Examine in the light of the role of civil services in Indian democracy.
Please refer to MAINS FOCUS article for more: https://blog.lukmaanias.com/2023/10/24/government-move-to-turn-government-officers-into-rath-prabharis-stirs-storm/Spread the Word