India’s Achilles heel: Bureaucracy

2G judgment indicates the nation’s civil servants are the real weak link in its governance
By Sanjiv Shankaran – Policies and guidelines which led up to the 2G allocation spanned two governments: Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s NDA and Manmohan Singh’s UPA. The common thread that binds them is the disappointing quality of work when it came to fleshing out details in policy. Given the ambiguous nature of guidelines and poor drafting, controversies are a foregone conclusion.

Poor drafting of legislation has been the bane of India’s legislative framework. The telecom rules were a particularly appalling case. Definitions of critical terms such as “associate companies” are not clear. It’s these aspects which come through in OP Saini’s judgment, making one wonder if we are looking in the right place for answers to what happened.

Some senior bureaucrats come in for adverse mention in the judgment. Former telecom secretary DS Mathur is regarded as evasive in his deposition. Consequently, his testimony is discarded by the court as he is considered an unreliable witness. Another bureaucrat, Pulok Chatterjee in the prime minister’s office, fails to meet a citizen’s legitimate expectations.

Unsurprisingly, the prosecution is shown up in poor light. Their incompetence is another incalculable cost imposed on society. more>

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