Bureau Guru Namaha!

Two thousand years and some centuries ago the Greek philosopher Aristotle stipulated the qualities required and duties expected of those holding public office. In ancient India there were codes of conduct for the Kshatriya, the warriors and rulers. Chanakya who founded, through his disciple Chandragupta, India’s first empire in 4th century BC mentioned bureaucrats in his treatise Arthashastra. In a book titled “Consumerism, Crime and Corruption” MG Chitkara quotes Chanakya, “money misappropriated by government officials from state funds is as hard to ascertain as it is to find out how much water a fish has drunk from a pond”.  Chanakya wanted the offenders to be punished harshly.


In 21st century AD, India  is not yet a corruption free country but an example of the contrary. Indian parliament passed Right to Information Act under pressure of public activists who hoped it would make the bureaucracy more accountable. But the bureaucracy is unwilling to accept to being questioned by common people. Today’s article on Times of India titled “Sleep on RTI Queries”  glimpses into this mindset of bureaucracy. Here are some excepts (words in italics are mine):

“Now, senior bureaucrats are giving crash courses to public information officers (PIOs) on how to delay or deny information to applicants.”


A scientist at a national institute, to whom an RTI application was forwarded, said his senior was unhappy that he readily gave the details. “Asking for information is their job,” he quoted his boss as telling him, “Not giving away everything is part of our job.” The scientist said the senior administrator gave him a few tips on how to intentionally misdirect queries to delay things. “While RTI activists are well versed with the act and pursue applications, many common people who seek information give up after long delays. This is the guiding reason for creating barricades,” he added.


Appeals against denial or delay of information under RTI have been piling up with the state information commission to the point that the commission lost count. RTI activists attribute this increase in appeals partly to the practice of senior officials training public information officers (PIOs) on ways to delay replies.


In most cases, senior officials or heads of department help PIOs draft the replies, said advocate and RTI activist V S Suresh. “Some of the replies are diplomatic, some are unreasonable and others are just stupid,” he said.


The state chief information commissioner has powers to initiate action against PIOs who don’t act on applications. Officials said they have issued show-cause notices to PIOs who don’t give proper replies on time, but they did not have any number or details of action taken against such PIOs.


Some officials (say) misuse of RTI by some applications should also be blamed for the pile-up. An official with the state information commission noted that several people seek information on several lands pattas to blackmail landholders. “We have received 55 RTI applications from one applicant seeking details of various land deals,” he said.

(The concern of this public servant for the honour of the land owner is really touching!)

India is expected to play the role of a spiritual guru in the world but the non transparent attitude of its own government towards people is highly unfortunate. If world takes this bureaucratic India as guru it will not find the path to truth and light!  



Tagged: ,

2 thoughts on “Bureau Guru Namaha!

  1. Austin December 13, 2012 at 11:34 pm Reply

    Hi Jothi, I also remember an incident where the woman who filed RTI was murdered by the people who did not want the corrupt process for public project to be exposed. When will this end? The poor people in developing country get deprived of whatever little resource that is available.

    • jothicharles December 15, 2012 at 8:21 am Reply

      People are brutalised and those not strong enough to fight live meekly or even take away their own live – like the farmers committing suicide in hundreds every year. It is time for commoners to become stubborn and patiently heroic. People have to shed feudal submissive attitude and demand clean public life. It is possible to live, travel and work in India without being bribing anyone. I have proved it to myself. In the case of delays in getting information through RTI some people have appealed to tribunals and even moved judiciary and succeeded. It is tough but the way to make this nation great is by no means easy…

      Thanks Austin, for sharing your concern.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s