Attaching herewith my comments/ questions on the Common Minimum Programme recently proposed by Public Interest Foundation.
Congress is as strong a unit as one can possibly imagine. People prefer the comfort of a strong united party to an equally corrupt, but fragmented party.
And with the thousands of crores of rupees of black money that Congress has accumulated, it can "outgun" any opposition in more ways than one.
There is one way, of course: for a new mega-party to be created to mop up a significant chunk of the non-BJP/Congress vote (and in fact, cut into both of these as well): that is a party based on the RULE OF LAW and FIRM NEUTRALITY towards all religions; and a party that will promote liberty while ensuring a social minimum.
Please assemble at Ramlila Maidan on 4 June at 4 pm.
We'll then march to Jantar Mantar to conduct a public event in which eminent people will speak and demand TOTAL REFORMS.
[Event on Facebook]
THIS IS NOT A GOVERNMENT BUT TYRANNY
The Sone Ki Chidiya Federation proposes to hold a public rally on 4 June 2013 in Delhi to remember and mourn the Black Night of 4-5 June 2011 in which Delhi Police committed unprecedented atrocitities against innocent people who were peacefully fasting.
Rajbala became martyr to merciless police beatings.
On 4 June 2011 Swami Ramdev had launched a fast unto death to oppose corruption in India. That night, Delhi Police committed some of the most heinous atrocities against the people of India. It was Jallianwala Bagh with lathis instead of bullets.
Swami Ramdev repeatedly asked to be arrested but the police did not do so. Instead the police kept beating the people in the dead of the night.
The police were clearly intent on killing Swami Ramdev. No amount of pleading with them, no amount of requesting that the participants be arrested, worked. All humanity was lost. The concept of rule of law was entirely ripped apart.
That night a woman – Rajbala – was so badly beaten, her back was shattered. She later died.
We protest tyranny. We protest the Black Night in Independent India's history.
The Sone Ki Chidiya Federation is holding a public rally on 4 June 2013 at 4 pm in Delhi to mourn the Black Night of 4-5 June 2011 in which Delhi Police committed unprecedented atrocitities against innocent people who were peacefully fasting.
THIS GOVERNMENT HAS FAILED TO PROVIDE SECURITY TO WOMEN
We will also protest the system of injustice in which women, particularly, are unsafe in India, and Police unable to protect them.
THIS GOVERNMENT IS PREVENTING CONTRUCTION OF THOUSANDS OF NEW HOUSES IN DELHI
In addition, we will oppose the artificial scarcity of housing created by bad policies of the government. This means prices of houses are at least more than double the price they would have been without such bad policies. The solution is to liberalise the allocation of land, get government out of its discretionary control on use of land, and increase floor area ratios (FAR) while increasing infrastructure spending on sanitation, roads and electricity.
THIS GOVERNMENT IS PREVENTING LABOUR FROM EARNING A LIVELIHOOD, AND BUSINESSES FROM INVESTING
Also, we will protest bad labour laws which have forced outsourcing to contract labour which is paid a quarter of the market rates (according to The Economist). The solution is to liberalise labour laws to minimise militant unionisation which has reduced job opportunities for unorganised labour and blocked companies – both Indian and international – from investing in India.
THIS GOVERNMENT IS PREVENTING FARMERS FROM RECEIVING DUE RETURNS FOR THEIR CROPS
We will also protest the low costs which farmers receive due to artificial controls imposed by the government in the trade and production of agricultural products.
Please confirm your participation here.
Please do yourself a favour. Widely share this. It will help to change India, one click at a time.
I am a great admirer of Mr Prajapati Trivedi’s work. Despite the odds being totally stacked against him, he is trying to improve the performance of India’s bureaucracy.
I hold the view, however, that all such efforts are going to fail for many fundamental reasons – one being that even if the politicians finally reform, the IAS – the world’s most third rate civil service – can never reform.
It needs to be built from scratch, else we are wasting our time entirely. It is not that the people in IAS are stupid. They are very smart. And that’s one more reason why the IAS can never deliver – under the current system design. When you place some very smart people and give them enormous power (and poor salaries) but NEVER hold them to account, then these people will do one or more of the following:
a) become fat parasites, whom nothing can budge; they will get mindless paperwork filled up and send tonnes of it to you, but it would be largely cooked up and meaningless;
b) become arrogant as hell (there is none in the whole world more arrogant than an average IAS officer), refusing to learn or improve;
c) become great chamchas of thoroughly corrupt political leaders with the goal of getting themselves a fat sinecure in the World Bank or various UN agencies (or as Governor/ambassador after retirement); or
d) become direct “players” (corrupt scoundrels) preparing for a political career by accumulating crores of rupees of corruptly sourced funds.
What do these people care for performance management system and related paperwork?
They don’t even care for empanelment as Joint/Additional secretaries. They are going to enjoy even greater perks in the states in which they live, and you can NEVER KICK THEM OUT. So why would they care?
There is a word in Hindi called ढीठ. That’s what most of these guys are. Simply incorrigible.
They are our SERVANTS but they act like our MASTERS.
But this is not their fault. It is the NATURAL CONSEQUENCE of the system in which we put them.
Put these people in a performing system like Singapore's and they'll produce the world's BEST results. Same people diferent system. That's what explains performance.
So below I’m extracting a few comments I made on a Linkedin group:
My basic contention is that the current Indian system's incentives are fundamentally defective and it will NEVER deliver any meaningful improvement in governance unless it is totally rebuilt from scratch. My focus is therefore on first principles reform.
I was looking at Singapore bureaucracy system yesterday and found that it follows world-best principles, even as we follow world-worst principles. http://sabhlokcity.com/2013/05/singapore-followed-arthashastra-india-abandoned-it-results-are-inevitable/
We are talking about systems. When we have a flawed system we will get SHABBY results. We must think about systems – then we'll find the answer. Current system can NEVER perform. No matter how much "shifting/reorieinting" you do.
To suggest that "There has been an overall deterioration in the moral fabric of society" is a load of rubbish.
The SAME Indians behave ethically elsewhere. That's because SYSTEMS are everything. Our systems are DESIGNED for corruption, as I've explained in my book, Breaking Free of Nehru (download from http://bfn.sabhlokcity.com/ ). Please don't blame Indians for their "moral" failures. Blame us, the policy designers.
[I received this suggestion:] "we need some means of changing the 19th century mindsets, and bringing new ideas to the Secretary level officials – since change will need to be fostered from that group".
The best way to change the Secretary's mind is to say: You can lose your job in ONE MINUTE (without notice) if you don't perform.
When all over the world the focus is on accountability of the bureaucracy, why do we pander to them by trying to "change their mindset"? I was in the IAS and knew many Secretaries. Worse, I know many IAS officers who are extremely senior now. They WILL NOT CHANGE. Their mindset is corrupted the moment they realise they can't be removed from their job.
I'm not saying people should do nothing within the current system. By all means work on these other ideas. Yes, you'll remain busy and you'll generate a lot of paperwork. But be aware that you'll NEVER change these people in this way.
[Question received:] "Does anybody have a concrete proposal on how this is to be done".
I provided a detailed transitional pathway in Breaking Free of Nehru, chapter 6. About 10 pages of details. Download: http://sanjeev.sabhlokcity.com/book1/BFN-fullbook.pdf . Please also read chapter 5 (I think) on bureaucracy that sets the context.
A summary of the transitional path is available in the draft Agenda for Change ( http://sonekichidiya.in/Documents/SKC-agendaforchange-draft.pdf ). We also had an extensive discussion for a few hours at the IIPA governance reforms conference on 13/14 April 2013 on the precise pathway. I've yet to consolidate the notes and issue the minutes of the conference.
Your considered feedback and questions will be useful. The more detailed the analysis, the better.
The key performance driver in the private sector is the employment contract. If you had an employee in your company whose job was 100 per cent assured and who short-circuited the official reporting lines and dabbled with politics and took "directions" from people outside your company (in the case of IAS, from politicians of all hues), please explain how any of your past experience in the private sector would apply.
We have to start with the employment contract of the civil services, not with establishing performance frameworks more suited to a jet plane than to a bullock cart. With an unruly bullock cart, where a bull runs helter skelter and is TOTALLY disobedient because it knows the master (ultimately the citizen) can't do any harm, there is a drastic limit to the performance the master can get.
The most arrogant and unruly (and incompetent) people in the world are IAS officers. How can you possibly expect them to perform by giving them more paperwork to deliver?
I haven't even mentioned the other side – that more than 90 per cent of the policies in India simply can't be delivered because they are undeliverable, being poorly designed. Even if you get the world's smartest bureaucrats (from Singapore) you can't do that.
I assure you that late Ashok Saikia (who was Vajpayee's favourite Joint Secretary) and I – when we ran the education department in Assam, were not less than the most honest/efficient bureaucrats you can possibly imagine. But our combined results were practically zero. We were totally stymied by the system.
Btw, I chanced upon an excellent comparative study of different country administrations. Seems to take a very sensible approach: http://www.dpmc.gov.au/consultation/aga_reform/docs/benchmarking_australian_government_KPMG.pdf
I've tried to depict India's relative performance to Singapore's here: http://sabhlokcity.com/2013/05/indian-administrations-pathetic-performance-compared-with-singapores/
The country is totally sick of its non-performing and corrupt bureaucracy. If enough people offer [fundamental overhaul] as the key solution, there will be a lot of uptake of this suggestion.
Performance management systems will merely increase red tape, paperwork, and costs to be borne by taxpayers without any hope of improvement. Such "systems" will have no effect on anything on the ground.
This conclusion I make based on my deep knowledge of the inner functioning of the IAS and Indian bureaucracy. They will treat performance management as a big joke and laugh at it. Indeed, I know officers in the IAS who hold such a view and treat it with contempt.
Of course, the problem is not just performance, it is policy.
If you were to ask me, assuming the fundamental change doesn't take place first, I'd work out a reward system for those IAS officers who can design good policy. I'd get such a system endorsed by politicians and I'd throw a challenge at these people to come up with serious policy analysis that points out fundamental flaws. Those who identify the flaws, and also identify ways to remove the flaws, will be rewarded.
When we develop a culture of asking questions and giving honest advice in the IAS, we might then start talking about performance management.
Merely trying to transplant performance management systems that work well in the West into the Indian system won't work because there is an entirely different set of incentives at work, which rewards political "savvy" and/or corruption, not performance in the sense we mean it.
Why don't we challenge the civil servants of India to tell us why the policies they implement are fundamentally defective and can't work. They are smart people. If you reward them for plain-speaking, they will come up with good ideas.
Once that has happened, we can change the policies, then they will at least work better without any "performance management". Today, 90 per cent of the policies we have won't work no matter how smart the performance management system you introduce.
Three and a half years ago the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet (PM&C) in Australia commissioned KPMG to compare the performance of the APS against leading public services around the world. The report is linked here.
It is worth a read. In it I found a diagram that I believe represents everything I've been saying.
I've extrapolated India's system in this diagram, to show where it would stand if ANY rational survey of performance were undertaken.
Below, I've outlined the blueprint for reform that the Australian Government is implementing, based on the report cited above, to improve its admininstration. It is only about incremental improvement, so it doesn't deal with the fundamental reforms I've explained in Chapter 5 of BFN.
Some interesting areas are highlighted below in red, by me.
1. Delivering better services for citizens
1.1 Simplify Australian Government services for citizens
- Simplify and align Australian Government service delivery.
- Implement simplified citizen focused service delivery with automated and simplified business processes.
1.2 Develop better ways to deliver services through the community and private sectors
- Provide greater flexibility to respond to local circumstances in service delivery through the community and private sectors.
- Provide simplified funding arrangements.
- Develop integrated case coordination for citizens and their families with complex needs in particular locations.
1.3 Deliver services in closer partnership with State, Territory and local governments
- Partner with State, Territory and local governments to achieve better outcomes for citizens.
- Integrate delivery teams using employees from multiple Australian Government agencies in particular locations to enable more joined up delivery.
- Share more information between all levels of government.
- Make information accessible to citizens on services provided by all levels of government.
1.4 Reduce unnecessary business regulatory burden
- Extend the Standard Business Reporting (SBR) functionality, (due for release in July 2010),to ease the regulatory burden imposed by government on business.
- Minimise reporting and compliance requirements for business and remove unnecessary or poorly designed regulation.
2. Creating more open government
2.1 Enable citizens to collaborate with government in policy and service design
- Develop and implement new approaches to collaboration and consultation with citizens on policy and service delivery issues.
- Make public sector data available to the wider public in a manner consistent with privacy principles.
2.2 Conduct a citizen survey
- Conduct a survey of citizens’ views on their satisfaction with government programs, services and regulation to inform government business.
- These surveys desirably would be expanded to include all levels of government.
Provides strong leadership and strategic direction
3. Enhancing policy capability
3.1 Strengthen strategic policy
- Every Department to strengthen strategic policy and delivery capability.
- Establish a Strategic Policy Network and create a policy tool kit to assist the development of strategic policy capability across the APS.
- Establish cross-agency strategic policy project teams.
3.2 Build partnerships with academia, research institutions and the community and private sectors
- Reinvigorate and establish new relationships with academia and research institutions.
- Strengthen links with private sector experts.
3.3 Improve policy implementation
- Provide clear guidance and standards to agencies on policy implementation, particularly in the areas of regulation, program and project management.
- Increase every Department’s capacity to oversee implementation activities.
- Establish an APS -wide forum to share best practice in regulations.
4. Reinvigorating strategic leadership
4.1 Revise and embed the APS Values
- Revise the APS Values to a smaller set of core values that are meaningful, memorable and effective in driving change.
- Embed the revised values into the work of the APS through senior leadership and learning and development and performance management frameworks.
4.2 Articulate the roles and responsibilities of Secretaries
- Amend the Public Service Act 1999 to recognise the roles and responsibilities of Secretaries and the Public Service Commissioner.
- Strengthen the performance framework to assess individual and collective performance against the above roles and responsibilities.
4.3 Revise employment arrangements for Secretaries
- Revise the processes for appointing and terminating Secretaries
- Reinforce the terms of appointment for Secretaries to provide for a five year term.
4.4 Strengthen leadership across the APS
- Establish a new APS leadership group, the Secretaries Board.
- Create a senior leadership forum, the APS 200. Require leaders at all levels to act as role models and drive reforms in their agencies.
4.5 Improve talent management across the APS
- Introduce APS -wide talent management programs.
- Establish a Leadership Development Centre.
5. Introducing a new APSC to drive change and provide strategic planning
5.1 New APSC with responsibilities to lead the APS
- Reposition the APSC to deliver on broad reform goals and charge it with responsibility for leading and implementing proposed recommendations agreed by Government.
- Transfer responsibility for Australian Government policies for agreement-making, classification structures, APS remuneration arrangements, work level standards and workplace relations advice from the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations (DEEWR) to the APSC.
- Revise the Public Service Act 1999 to reflect reforms to the APSC.
Contains a highly capable workforce
6. Clarifying and aligning employment conditions
6.1 Ensure employment bargaining arrangements support one APS
- Strengthen the Australian Government Employment Bargaining Framework to ensure that it supports one APS
- Identify areas where a further streamlining of existing APS bargaining arrangements would better support one APS.
- Examine the extent to which existing APS classification arrangements and work level standards continue to meet the needs of APS agencies and employees.
- Provide APS employees with appropriate career paths.
6.2 Assess the size and role of the SES
- Complete a review of the size, capability and work level standards for each level of the Senior Executive Service (SES), before any new net growth in the SES occurs.
7. Strengthening the workforce
7.1 Coordinate workforce planning
- Establish an APS -wide workforce planning framework.
- Develop a Human Capital Priority Plan that initially prioritises the reforms proposed in this Blueprint and over time will identify emerging systemic workforce issues.
7.2 Streamline recruitment and improve induction
- Develop best practice standards for recruitment that uphold the merit principle.
- Establish regular labour and demographic analyses in relation to APS employment.
- Coordinate initial graduate and trainee recruitment application processes.
- Utilise new recruitment processes, where appropriate, for SES Band 3 officers.
- Implement specific mechanisms to increase APS diversity.
7.3 Expand and strengthen learning and development
- Identify core service-wide development needs.
- Endorse a principle of annual professional development for all APS employees.
- Deliver core learning and development programs that are centrally procured.
- Evaluate a range of courses and negotiate the best rates for the APS.
7.4 Strengthen the performance framework
- Introduce a performance framework that fosters a high performance culture.
- Provide performance management training for all SES employees and managers.
- Develop common APS -wide guidelines for dealing with underperformance.
7.5 Encourage employees to expand their career experience
- Develop mobility mechanisms that encourage more APS employees to obtain diverse career experiences.
- Reinvigorate the mechanism for advertising of temporary non ongoing positions (for example, expressions of interest).
- Work with State, Territory and local governments to identify and address the barriers to jurisdictional mobility, including the recognition of State, Territory and local government public service entitlements and vice versa.
Operates efficiently at a consistently high standard
8. Ensuring agency agility, capability and effectiveness
8.1 Conduct agency capability reviews
- Conduct periodic external reviews of agencies’institutional capabilities, covering strategy, leadership, workforce capability, delivery and organisational effectiveness.
8.2 Introduce shared outcomes across portfolios
- Introduce shared cross portfolio outcomes in priority areas where more than one portfolio is responsible for achieving government outcomes.
8.3 Reduce internal red tape to promote agility
- Streamline administrative and legislative compliance in areas such as Financial Management and Corporate / Human Resources.
- Develop mechanisms that ensure red tape is minimised.
9. Improving agency efficiency
9.1 Review the measures of agency efficiency
- Review the current mechanisms used to drive agency efficiency.
9.2 Strengthen the governance framework
- Simplify governance structures for new and existing entities by consolidating the categories of entities that can be created.
- Amend the Governance Arrangements for Australian Government Bodies (Governance Guide) to ensure:
- Clear governance arrangements for inter-jurisdictional entities;
- APS employees are clear about their responsibilities when appointed to company boards; and
- All new and existing agencies are fit-for-purpose.
9.3 Small agencies to improve the efficiency of their corporate functions
- All portfolio agencies should review the most efficient way to conduct their corporate functions.
- New small agencies should obtain their corporate services from a parent agency or shared service provider.
A short review of Mr Rao's recommendations, below
ensure Inclusive Development for all employable Indians in the 250,000 Panchayats by transparent & relevant Skill Development Programmes linked to regular evaluation & monitoring for their success
[Sanjeev: Will the government do this? How - what are the details of implementation? How can government which has entirely failed to date, suddenly do this?]
A Swadeshi movement like campaign is to be initiated wherever felt necessary so that we stop using MNC products of daily use like Tooth Paste, Soaps, Shampoos .. when our rich culture has better and cost effective alternatives
[Sanjeev: Social reformers are welcome to preach their message, but why should bureaucrats tell citizens: their masters, what to buy?]
ensure economic development at Panchayat by increasing the productivity of Employed and bring more Employable and currently unemployed or seasonally employed to Productive Employment mode
ensure that Education and especially at the formative age be properly imparted to everyone in the country
ensure proper healthcare to all Indians thru Wellness Programmes & Affordable medicines including Indian Forms of Medicine
[Sanjeev: How will wellness programmes run? How can medicines be made affordable? Subsidy? If so, where will money come from? ]
ensure protection of our Biodiversity & arrest Bio piracy by MNCs
[Sanjeev: How? Through the same forest department that has to date looted India, and the same environment protection agencies that have done the same?]
ensure minimum use of Chemical Fertilizers & Poisonous Pesticides for Agriculture and encourage safe & healthy Organic Practices for Sustainable Agriculture
[Sanjeev: Again: how?]
ensure proper protection of our Natural Resources and ensure full transparency in their handling
[Sanjeev: What is the meaning of "proper protection"? Needs explanation]
ensure to improve Food Production and Food Security for all by established Organic Agricultural Practices and exploiting the 127 agro climatic Zones and corresponding Indian Centric Crops
[Sanjeev: will the government do this? What's the proof that organic practice will ensure food security? And if it is good, why does farmer not use it?]
ensure ‘Energy/Electricity’ to all by exploiting Renewable Energy sources like Solar/Wind/ Hydro/ Biomass besides Thermal etc and reducing the Transmission & Commercial losses which today stand at a whopping 35%
[Sanjeev: Why should expensive energy sources be used if cheaper ones are available? And who will reduce transmission losses? The corrupt government system?]
ensure proper storage & handling of Food Stocks and encourage Food Processing to reduce the large wastage currently existing due to lack of Energy/Electricity
[Sanjeev: Who will do this? And how is going to be different to the corrupt practices of FCI?]
ensure proper water management and work out strategies to see that proper charging of surface & ground water happens and sweet water does not flow into seas as happening now
[Sanjeev: This sounds promising but needs detail. This is an area where government can step in - but radically new solutions will be needed]
ensure Judicial Reforms so that quick & fair legal recourse system so that people regain faith in the Judicial System
ensure police reforms so that police becomes more accountable to people
ensure media reforms so that irresponsible and paid news becomes punishable
[Sanjeev: This is a good idea. How will you prove in court that something is paid news?]
ensure that Corporate Governance is followed by Business Houses and Bribery/Corruption to be dealt with Iron Hand
[Sanjeev: Agreed, but first iron hand should start with corrupt Prime Minister. After all corrupt PMs and CMs are hanged, we can consider those who are forced by them to be corrupt.]
ensure transparency in all government departments by installing Information & Communication Technology supported models including CCTVs & SMS based Grievance Redress System
[Sanjeev: this is a promising idea. Please elaborate]
ensure bring back of stash money in foreign banks and use the same for Infrastructure & People development in the 250,000 Panchayats
[Sanjeev: How will black money come back?]
ensure protection & development of Girl Child/ Women thru a sustained mechanism of revival of our Value Systems coupled with Safety Measures
[Sanjeev: How will you revive values? What additional safety measures do you have in mind?]
ensure a firm but humane handling of all Insurgency activities in different parts of the country
[Sanjeev: Can you please explain what this means in practical terms?]