Unruly, impolite and corrupt bureaucrats are the bane of the system. Unfortunately, they are nothing new either. Of late, there's been the much-deserved and unflattering spotlight on the rude behaviour of bureaucrats.
Last year, in an unprecedented move, all the Cabinet ministers of Punjab resolved not to attend even a single cabinet meeting in the presence of the Chief Secretary Karan Avtar Singh.
At the time, the ministers led by finance minister Manpreet Singh Badal, conveyed CM Captain Amarinder Singh that they decided to boycott the top Punjab government official because of his "rude behaviour and arrogance." The move resulted in a nearly three-week long stalemate.
Most often, at the receiving end of the rude behaviour are ex-servicemen, pensioners and commoners, but it has come to light that even the former Army Chief, General VP Malik was not spared the rudeness or roughness of sarkaari baabus, as he tweeted, "Having been a victim myself at Tehsil level for property registration, I feel there is a need for monitoring and ensuring that lower level functionaries follow it in letter and spirit."
The tweet came in response to a post by Captain Amarinder Singh issuing strict diktats to government officials at all levels to be 'polite.' He wrote, "I have directed Chief Secretary, Punjab to ensure that all in Punjab Government are polite in their interaction with ex-servicemen & show the respect they command. If I hear of anyone misbehaving with them then I will just suspend them."
Training programmes & bureaucrats
Over Rs 257 crore have been allocated to the Personnel Ministry in the budget of 2021-2022, for domestic and foreign training of bureaucrats and augmenting necessary infrastructure. While a major part of the training will focus on making them more proactive, professional, creative and technology-abled, there is also an urgent to upgrade the interaction and communication skills of bureaucrats and sensitize them towards people, especially the ex-servicemen.
Several studies and attempts at reforming bureaucracy have focused on either downsizing or privatising but few have sought to look at training and orientation programmes as the key to making them efficient, positive and polite.
With the post by Gen Malik, everyone's thoughts went in the same direction. If the Chief of Army Staff had to face the rough bureaucracy, wonder what others go through on a daily basis? Some even felt the need for separate platforms where the rude behaviour of officials could be reported.