Need political will to bear down on bureaucrats for better services: Mani Shankar Aiyar

Last Updated: Tuesday, January 14, 2014 - 22:49

New Delhi: Former Union minister Mani Shankar Aiyar on Tuesday hit out at the bureaucracy for non-convergence of schemes at the grassroots level and said that the political will at the highest level has to be brought to bear down hard on them.

"Political will at the highest level needs to be brought to bear down on these people... It is only then that we will get devolution," Aiyar said during a talk on the `State of local governments and delivery of public goods in India`.

The total expenditure on social sector schemes and anti- poverty programmes in the Union budget is in the region of Rs 2 lakh crore per year which is spread out amongst approximately 150 centrally-sponsored schemes, he said.
"This money is sent through administrative silos totally insulated from all other silos... To the same bin... All these noble programmes are directed at the deprived people.

"But instead of all the money being dumped on their laps, we have the brightest and the best IAS officers working out schemes whereby `you won`t encroach on my turf and I will not on yours`... To prevent any convergence from taking place," he said.

He alleged that bureaucrats were experts in writing English who draw up guidelines in a language which is only understood by them with the main purpose of empowering their fellow bureaucrats and not the citizens.
"There is an army of NGOs employed by the state level bureaucrats for delivery of services, but (these) are not responsible to the beneficiaries," he said.

Giving an example, Aiyar said that if an NGO was deputed by an under secretary, it would be responsible only to that bureaucrat.

"There is a delightful bonus that once the money goes from the government treasury into the designated NGO`s bank account, it can no longer be audited by the CAG," he said.

"At any given moment, there is Rs 1.35 lakh crore pending in the accounts of the parallel bodies which are beyond the auditing capabilities of the CAG or local auditors in states. These bodies are not responsible to the beneficiaries," he added.
Aiyar said that he was of the opinion that all centrally- sponsored schemes should be dismantled.

"But I do think they should be replaced by state schemes. You should send the money to the treasury or bank accounts of every single panchayat and say `do what you want with it`. They will then become accountable," he said.

First Published: Tuesday, January 14, 2014 - 22:49
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