Citizens' Issues
Red Tape vs Red Carpet –Part1
The bureaucracy may be far from faultless, but it is hardly the sole culprit in discouraging foreign investors from investing in India. Its function is to assist State and Central activities, and its performance is dependent on effective political leadership as well as the legal framework under which it operates 
 
“If you are going to sin, sin against God, not the bureaucracy.  God will forgive you but the bureaucracy won’t” - Hyman Rickove
 
“Bureaucracies are inherently anti-democratic.  Bureaucrats derive their power from their position in the structure, not from their relations with the people they are supposed to serve.  The people are not masters of the bureaucracy but its clients”. - Alan Keyes 
 
A controversy has been generated in recent times about the role of bureaucracy as hindering economic development. Prime Minister Narendra Modi is reported to have stated that hereafter there will be less red tape in attracting foreign investments into India and that such investors will be given a red carpet reception. This means that rigid bureaucratic hurdles will be removed and attractive incentives will be provided so as to encourage foreign investments. There is a widespread perception that India is an attractive destination for investment because of its vast market potential and scientific and technological talent. However, many investors are reluctant to invest in India because of the bureaucratic hurdles, policy uncertainty, legislative complexities and judicial delays. Viewed in the light of Ease of Doing Business Index compiled recently by the World Bank, India ranks 142 out of 189 countries surveyed.  It is indeed unfortunate that a country with rich resources, both human and natural, should rank inferior to countries like Botswana, Cambodia, Cyprus, Ethiopia, Indonesia, Iran, Nepal and even Pakistan. Ranking wise India is only next to Uzbekistan (141) and just ahead of West Bank and Gaza (143). While this statistic reveals the pathetic state of affairs in relation to India, it also highlights abysmal governance deficiency in the country.
 
Bureaucracy, which is critical to governance, is perceived as the major obstacle in attracting foreign investments and promoting business and employment opportunities. There is indeed a universal impression that Indian bureaucracy is unhelpful, rigid, unfriendly, rule-bound and insensitive to the public. Bureaucracy is also blamed because of its rigid adherence to rules, procedures and indifferent, arrogant attitude.  It is perhaps easy to blame the entire bureaucracy because it is too general and a vague description covering a wide range starting from the lowest level officials and ending with the topmost civil servants.   In my opinion, this wholly negative outlook seems totally unwarranted and seems to be based on certain misconceptions. Firstly, the reluctance of investors is not only because of bureaucratic hurdles but also due to other political, economic and social reasons such as political corruption, judicial delays and labour disputes. This is not to say that the bureaucracy is blemish less in its performance.  However, to tarnish the entire bureaucracy as the villain in public administration is neither fair nor factually correct.  At any point of time, we can always find some bureaucrats helpful, sympathetic, efficient and fair minded in spite of the many rigidities in the system.  However, in a country like India, where we have an oversized bureaucracy created to meet increasing activities of the State (both at federal and local level) as also other political and social compulsions, the number of civil servants with negative attitude is disproportionately high. This is presumably because of the high discretion given to civil servants, fear of audit, vigilance and ineffective supervision.
 
Many of us fail to note that bureaucracy is only a tool in public administration. Its usefulness and effectiveness or otherwise is dependent upon the system and the environment in which it operates and the leadership that is provided by the political masters.  If the system (viz., rules and regulations) is rigid and insensitive, naturally bureaucracy cannot be public friendly. Similarly, if the environment is hostile, it cannot be effective.  If the political leadership is corrupt and/or incompetent, the bureaucracy tends to be vitiated in its attitude and performance. This essential aspect of bureaucracy is very often forgotten or ignored.
 
Perhaps it is worthwhile to go briefly into the evolution of bureaucracy especially in western countries.  According to Encyclopedia Britannica, “In every day usage, the term bureaucracy connotes ‘red tape’ and inefficiency that one often experiences in dealing with large-scale organizations, especially with a state administration.  As a sociological concept, the term has a less pejorative, a more ‘neutral’ meaning.  It simply refers to a type of formal organization.   …………  Thus, purposive design and goal specificity seem to be two crucial criteria differentiating formal organizations from other types of social groupings.”  It is therefore commonly understood that a bureaucratic organization is characterised by a rational and impersonal regulation of inferior-superior relationships as distinct from a feudal or patrimonial organization.   The most important ingredient of bureaucracy is the existence of a system of control based on rules and regulations for achieving maximum efficiency with neutrality and high integrity.  Although the evolution of bureaucracy in Western Europe is surrounded with mystery because of the frequent influence of religion and royalty, it can be stated without any doubt that at every stage it got organized meeting the demands of the time and the needs of services of the State. Political corruption and its impact on governance were all too evident.  Oliver Cromwell’s well known address (as stated below) to the British Parliamentarians is a case in point.
 
……………………….
 
Is there a single virtue now remaining amongst you? Is there one vice you do not possess? Ye have no more religion than my horse; gold is your God; which of you have not barter'd your conscience for bribes? Is there a man amongst you that has the least care for the good of the Commonwealth?
……………………….
In the name of God, go!”
 
(TS Krishna Murthy is Former Chief Election Commissioner of India, and also a Trustee on the Board of Moneylife Foundation)

User

COMMENTS

vswami

2 years ago

OFFHAND
The topic has enough potential to provoke anyone familiar with, to reflect on the 'subtleties' of the long enduring bureaucratic practices. to refresh and reflect,worth looking back and caring to read a couple of versatile articles, - "Subtleties of bureaucratic practices", and "Re-ordering bureaucrat-minister relations" | Business Line, authored 'swayam' by a popular civil servant of our times.
NA Palkhivala, a renowned legal legend, is found to have,through his speeches and writings (published),been frank and forthright in sharing his views on the subject.

(More to share)

Rajaram Bojji

2 years ago

Best is to make noting on the files public with govt order dealing with public assets or investments.

This step liberates honest officers and repels corrupt.

Vishal Modi

2 years ago

Dear sir, mean no disrespect - our tax administration to the honest, tax paying citizen is perhaps more adverserial and less equal, especially to the genuine tax payer - than you would like to admit! surely even you will agree on this limited point.

REPLY

Sudhir Jatar

In Reply to Vishal Modi 2 years ago

That's where the courts come in for interpretation of the law.
It is unfortunate but true that the tax administration is more adversarial precisely because they ignore the big fish law breakers and want to make their tax collection targets from the honest tax payer. It only reinforces my point.

Sudhir Jatar

2 years ago

The correct definition of a bureaucrat is one who goes by the book. That's what the ICS officers were. I remember reading it in "A matter of Honour" by Philip Mason who was an ICS officer.
The duty of a bureaucrat is to point out to the Minister the law, the rule, the guideline, the regulation and so on. He must stick to his stand.
If all bureaucrats behave in this fashion, there can be no politician with courage enough to go against the norms and standards.
The trouble with our civil service is that not even 1 % stick to the law and they blame the politician. I have been told by senior bureaucrats that I should go to court but he cannot use his power to correct the wrong because he is "under pressure"! Great guns - they go on to hold important positions and be PS to the PM or the CM!!
Sorry, the bureaucrat cannot take shelter of the politician for his wayward governance.

Equity MFs report net inflows for the 10th consecutive month
Strong equity mutual fund sales of Rs12,300 crore lead to a net inflow of Rs5,840 crore in February 2015
 
Equity mutual funds reported a net inflow of Rs5,840 crore in February 2015. Sales for the month amounted to Rs12,300 crore and redemptions amounted to Rs6,470 crore for the month. For the past 10 months, from May 2014 to February 2015, equity mutual funds reported a net inflow in each month. Equity mutual funds brought in as much as Rs62,800 crore over this period. The last time equity funds had such a long run of net inflows was in the nine month period from November 2007 to July 2008. In this period, equity funds reported a total net inflow of Rs40,177 crore.
 
As many as eight new fund offers (NFOs) were launched in February, bringing in as much as Rs702 crore. As we have highlighted in the past, mutual funds rush in to launch NFOs when the market begins to rally. Tax-saving schemes garner a lot of interest in the last three months of the financial year. This year equity linked saving schemes (ELSSs) brought in Rs1,903 crore in first two months (January and February 2015). This was 166% than the Rs715 crores brought by such schemes over the same period last year. The enhanced Section 80C limit to Rs1.50 lakh could be a probable reason for a sharp rise in investments.
 
Along with the rise in investments, the number of equity fund folios too has risen. The total number of equity fund folios (including ELSSs) stands at 31.81 million as on 28 February 2015. This is up by 1.51 million folios or 5% compared to February last year.
 
Along with the direction of the market and the new inflows, the assets managed by equity mutual funds closed at a record high of Rs3.46 lakh crore, gaining 1.41% in February 2015. The CNX Nifty gained 1.06% over the same period.
 

User

AR Rahman: The first ever documentary on the Mozart of Madras premiers in New York
“Jai Ho”, an intimate and exciting documentary directed by ‘Brokering News’ fame Umesh Aggarwal shows why AR Rahman is widely regarded as one of the world's great film composers
 
‘Jai Ho’, a documentary film on musical evolution of the maestro AR Rahman premiered last week at The Museum of Moving Image in New York. Renowned documentary filmmaker Umesh Aggarwal, who had directed Brokering News – Media, Money and Middlemen, an eye opening film on paid news, directed the film on Rahman. 
 
 
The premiere, which was attended by Rahman himself, opened to a full house despite the freezing cold (-20 C) in New York! Not just that, the 60-minute film received a standing ovation from the audience at the end. 
 
"We are honoured to be hosting AR Rahman, an icon of Indian music, and the world premiere of Jai Ho," said David Schwartz, the Museum's Chief Curator. "While Slumdog Millionaire brought him to the attention of many Americans, Rahman has had a long and accomplished career in India and abroad for nearly two decades. This intimate and exciting documentary shows why he is widely regarded as one of the world's great film composers."
 
Following the film, Rahman and the director Umesh Aggarwal participated in a discussion and question and answer session, moderated by Scott Foundas, Chief Film Critic of entertainment trade magazine Variety.
 
Rahman has been solely responsible for taking Indian film-music to the world stage. Moreover, his stellar amalgamation of eastern and western styles of music have earned him a worldwide fan following. The TIME Magazine described him as “the world’s most prominent and prolific film composer” and in 2009 included him in in its list of the world's most influential people. The same year, Rahman also performed at a state dinner arranged by US President Barack Obama at White House during an official visit by the then-Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
 
As of today, he is the recipient of two Academy Awards, two Grammy Awards, a BAFTA Award, a Golden Globe, four National Film Awards, 15 Filmfare Awards and 13 Filmfare Awards South. He has also been awarded Padma Shri, the fourth highest civilian award, by the Indian Government. Panchathan Record Inn – a recording and mixing studio in his backyard, is today the most-advanced recording studio in India, and one of Asia's most sophisticated and high-tech studios.
 
‘Jai Ho’, shot in Los Angeles, London, Mumbai and Rahman's hometown Chennai, features Rahman’s close friends and family, as well as his many collaborators such as Mani Ratnam, Danny Boyle, Andrew Lloyd Webber, Shekhar Kapoor, Ram Gopal Varma, Subhash Ghai, Ashutosh Gowarikar, Alka Yagnik and Hariharan. 
 
The film is novel in that it captures the evolution of Rahman's musical style, and not the events in his personal life. In fusing the ethos of the Eastern world with the technical brilliance of the Western, Rahman has managed to create a unique musical style that is innately Indian and yet has a global appeal. 
 
The first screening in India will be held in New Delhi in April. After a few more screenings across cities in India, the film will be available online for everyone to watch and enjoy.
 
The film is produced by Public Service Broadcasting Trust and Public Diplomacy Division of the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA).
 
Until then, click here to watch Umesh Aggarwal's pathbreaking documentary, Brokering News –Media, Money and Middlemen.  

User

We are listening!

Solve the equation and enter in the Captcha field.
  Loading...
Close

To continue


Please
Sign Up or Sign In
with

Email
Close

To continue


Please
Sign Up or Sign In
with

Email

BUY NOW

The Scam
24 Year Of The Scam: The Perennial Bestseller, reads like a Thriller!
Moneylife Magazine
Fiercely independent and pro-consumer information on personal finance
Stockletters in 3 Flavours
Outstanding research that beats mutual funds year after year
MAS: Complete Online Financial Advisory
(Includes Moneylife Magazine and Lion Stockletter)