New Delhi: The virtual sacking or forced retirement of Union Home Secretary Anil Goswami for intervening with the CBI on behalf of former minister Matang Sinh to stall his arrest in the Saradha scam is welcome in so far as it reflects an attitude of zero tolerance for a grave misdemeanor.
Under past governments, there has been a tendency to shield senior bureaucrats from any action regardless of improprieties that they may commit. The Narendra Modi government has, however, not shielded Goswami for making calls to CBI bigwigs to stall the interrogation and subsequent arrest of Matang Sinh after Goswami confessed to trying to influence the investigating agency.
Clearly, bureaucrats have got away with influence peddling in the past and have enjoyed a hallowed status. If the forced retirement of former foreign secretary Sujatha Singh, of DRDO chief Avinash Chander and now of Anil Goswami weeks before they were to retire is anything to go by, it is reasonable to surmise that under Modi’s dispensation accountability of bureaucrats is being sharpened, which was long required.
In every walk of life in India, there is loose accountability with the result that through use of undue influence senior people get away without being punished.
It would need to be watched whether the punishment meted out to the three bureaucrats mentioned above was selectively administered because the government of the day had some axe to grind or whether they are examples of what fate would befall all those who cross the ‘laxman rekha’ of honesty and impropriety.
If there is even-handedness in the government’s approach, it is a policy shift that deserves a welcome.
Prime Minister Modi has shown a resolve to instill discipline in the corridors of power in Delhi. The fact that Central government officials are not seen frequenting clubs and restaurants during working hours and there is greater consciousness about time is a positive sign. But this time consciousness needs to percolate to states as well if the country as a whole is to benefit from it.
Work culture in the government and in public sector enterprises needs to improve considerably if the productivity is to catch up with the levels in the West and in the rest of the developed world.