Sunday, November 8, 2015

Politicians versus Civil Servants

A lot of students often wonder, who is more powerful - a politician or a civil servant?

Put crudely - "a CM or an IAS officer?"

This question is similar to the following:
IAS Civil Servant PT education Sandeep Manudhane SM sir IIM CAT
Yes Minister!
  1. Who is more powerful in a company - the CEO or the Departmental Heads?
  2. Who is more powerful in an army - the Supreme Commander or the Field Generals?
  3. Who is more powerful in a Political Party - the President or the District Heads?
In all these cases, to the uninitiated, the answer is clear - the first guy mentioned.

But to a more mature eye, the power of the 'first' depends so intimately on the workings of the second. Will a CEO be effective without proper execution by the various departmental heads (of, say, Finance, HR, Marketing, Production etc.)? Will the Supreme Commander of an Army be any good without the bravery and tactical brilliance of the field generals? Can the President of a political party alone drive home electoral victories without the involvement of other members?

As is clear, the top guy in an organisation depends on the web of relationships that flow from him, under him and through him. He/she can set the tone and the flow, but the ultimate execution depends on a whole host of factors, including involvement of everyone else.

Indian democracy stands on the three pillars name the Legislature, the Executive and the Judiciary. There is mutual support, and checks-and-balances among them to ensure that no single entity becomes all-powerful. Further, since the Constitution explicitly vests certain powers in the services, no one can take them away (except through a long & complicated process).

If the officer is honest, and wants no special favours from the political bosses, there is virtually nothing that can stop him/her from carrying out the mandated duties.

Few points to consider:

PM Narendra Modi IAS officers BrightSparks blog PT education Sandeep Manudhane SM sir Indore
Political Executive with Administrative Executive
  1. Politicians come and go. But civil servants are permanent.
  2. A chief minister can be removed anytime by the Central Command of the party. But a civil servant can only be transferred between locations or posts.
  3. The Chief Minister can carry out a major shuffling of administrative machinery from time to time, but even for that, she/he has to depend on the Chief Secretary (an IAS officer).
  4. The Union Cabinet headed by the PM and made up of various Ministers can take major decisions, but the execution and 'filling-up-of-legal-requirements' depends on the Cabinet Secretary (an IAS officer).
  5. Unfortunately, when it comes to corruption, dishonest individuals in both profiles can outdo each other!

It is all about a balance ultimately.

No comments: