gfiles magazine

May 10, 2012

Civil Services: O Tempora! O Mores!

corruption m g devasahayam
Civil Services: O Tempora! O Mores!
Today, the objectives of civil servants and their political masters have seamlessly coalesced, with the former awaiting ‘orders from above’ on almost everything
IN the mid-fifties, Management Guru Peter Drucker advocated ‘Management by Objectives (MoB)’, a system that seeks to align employees’ goals with the goals of the organisation. This ensures that everyone is clear about what they should be doing and how that is beneficial to the whole organisation.
Nowadays, any American idea is instantly gulped up. But this concept took time and became a rage only in the early eighties. As the then chief of Haryana’s State Transport Undertaking, I attended a World Bank training course at the Administrative Staff College of India (ASCI) for senior Government and PSU officials. A professor from one of the Ivy League universities in the US gave a two-hour lecture on MoB. Balwant Reddy, ASCI’s officiating Director, was present.
During question-time, I remained silent, but Balwant goaded me. So I queried: “Government is a combination of employees (civil servants) and non-employees (Ministers). On whose objectives should an organisation be managed?”
The Professor was baffled and could not understand the question. So I elaborated: “I am the Chief Executive of Haryana Roadways and my objective is to run the organisation in an honest, efficient and viable manner. My Minister’s objective is to make money on purchases, transfers and protecting corrupt elements. The Chief Minister wants big deals. Now, by whose objective should Haryana Roadways be managed?” The Professor acknowledged the mismatch of objectives, but did not give an answer....

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