Don`t bow to political interference: President to civil servants

President Pranab Mukherjee asked bureaucrats to not be subject to political interference and advised that civil servants should tell politicians what cannot be done and why it cannot be done.

PTI| Updated: Oct 18, 2013, 21:45 PM IST

Mussoorie: President Pranab Mukherjee on Friday asked bureaucrats to not be subject to political interference and advised that civil servants should tell politicians what cannot be done and why it cannot be done.
He added that officers should understand the viewpoint of politicians also as they were answerable to the electorate.

"You need not subject yourself to the pressure of political interference. At the same time I would request you to understand the compulsions of the politician," Mukherjee said addressing senior IAS officers attending a mid career training programme at the Lal Bahadur Shastri National Academy of Administration (LBSNAA).

Politicians have to go every five years seeking votes with a begging bowl and they were answerable to their electors, he said.

"My advice to senior civil servants is be a little patient, tell him (politician) this cannot be done, why it cannot be done," he said.

"We often hear the complaint that many a thing could not be done or implemented due to political interference. I do not hesitate to share the perception, yes it is there," the President said.

Mukherjee recalled his first stint as a minister in the 1970s, saying he had a learned IAS officer as secretary whom he once asked if he felt "embarrassed" taking instructions from a newcomer like him.

He quoted his secretary`s reply, "Mr Minister, when I receive instructions from you, I do not look at your face. I look beyond your face, the vast multitudes of people of this country who have chosen you to be here."

The bureaucrat further added that he would endeavour to give the correct advice and it is for the minister to decide whether he would listen or not, Mukherjee said.

Mukherjee urged IAS officers to work towards strengthening institutions and added that the founding fathers had understood their importance.

The President also said India cannot be a theocratic state and that secularism was deep-rooted in the country.

He said that there has been a paradigm shift in the developmental strategy of the country. Mukherjee said from the concept of a police state, the idea of welfare state had arrived and become universally acceptable.

During the last ten years, we have given up the theory of trickling down of benefits. Now the strategy is to empower people through entitlements like for jobs, for information, education upto 14 years and food at subsidised price, Mukherjee said.

Asking IAS officers to work for the implementation of these schemes, he said that the IAS officers enjoyed protection under the constiutution and "thanks to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and UPA government, the sixth pay commission had provided them good perks and salary."

"Sometimes we find bitter criticism of our economic performance. Of course, as President I have no role to make any comment on this side or that side. But just to drive a fact, in the last ten years, Indian economy grew at 7.9 per cent. From 2003-04 to 2012-13....In which ten year period, India had this rate of GDP growth," Mukherjee asked.

He said the performance of an economy cannot of judged in the context of one or two years. He further said that even in the past decade, there were difficult years - 2008 and 2012-13. He spoke for empowering women and said that society cannot progress without advancement of women.

On the occasion, Minister of State for Personnel V Narayanasamy said bureaucrats should function with neutrality, integrity and professionalism. He said in the past the department of personnel was considered to be a punishing department but now it is an officer friendly ministry.