BOMBAY, India: Members ‘of the civil service, who are supposed to be public servants, have been reduced to private servants, said Mr. A.P. Venkateswaran, here on Wednesday.

 The “ji Hazur” (yes sir) attitude of the bureaucracy had made it a mere tool in the hands of its political masters, Mr. Venkateswaran, told newsmen, warning “If you do not have a professional and technical services that function honestly, then it leaves the way open for politicians to grab dictatorial powers which is as bad as military take over.

Drawing on his experiences in the foreign services, Mr. Venkateswaran confessed “Never before in free India have I felt so uneasy about the internal environment and the external relations of the country.” While divisive tendencies were weakening the country domestically, in the world arena, the nation was “bending backwards to please certain outside powers”.

Asked how the situation could be improved, Mr. Venkateswaran suggested a twofold plan.

In the first place, there should be clearly laid down policy similar to the bill of rights which determines the exact relationship between the bureaucracy and their political bosses and provides some protection to the civil servants against measures like frequent transfers.

Secondly, the entire Indian party should be cleansed by people who are concerned about it and those who are willing to restore values. He argued, “We cannot criticize politics for being dirty if we are willing to step into the muddy cesspool of politics ourselves”.

Asked whether he was willing to enter politics to clean it, Mr. Venkateswaran said he would do so what the situation was ripe. Asked what party he would join when he entered politics, he said “I will be on the side of the underdog”.

In an obvious reference to the Congress (I) Mr. Venkateswaran, who is also president of the Hinduja? Foundation said “What do you with a Government that uses “Ram” and “Hanuman” for electioneering, even after passing legislation to separate religion and politics?”

The institution of Parliament was lopsided for the last 40 years owning to the domination of a single party and the situation was worse now with the opposition being confined to only one fifth of the total strength.

Article extracted from this publication >> July 15, 1988