Fifth column: Courtiers on the move

If the Prime Minister wants to deliver on his promise of ‘minimum government, maximum governance’ he will have to implement drastic changes.

Gopinath Munde dies Prime Minister Narendra Modi
Written by Tavleen Singh | Published on:June 22, 2014 12:23 am

THE sound I hear loudest in Delhi these days is the sound of courtiers scurrying away from the court of the white queen and scurrying hurriedly in the direction of anyone they think is a friend of the new prime minister. Among those scurrying fastest are those who have lived off the patronage of the Government of India. These courtiers have used their skills in sycophancy to gainful effect and made small fortunes out of supposedly worthy causes.

Cultivating favour with the powers that be enables retired judges and bureaucrats to hang on to their bungalows in Lutyens’ Delhi by wangling appointments to cultural, academic and social organisations. Relatives of powerful politicians squeeze vast funds out of the Government of India in the name of promoting Urdu, Sanskrit, ecology, liberal ideas, wildlife, and women’s rights. They are mostly leeches but disguise the largesse they receive in an astonishing smorgasbord of causes.

Having examined their activities carefully in the years I have spent wandering about the murky corridors of the Durbar I can report that these are worthless people who deserve to be sacked and de-housed. But, they have sympathisers in the media so of late there have been many articles advising the Prime Minister to ‘preserve institutions’. Really? But, if the Prime Minister wants to ‘preserve’ these institutions he must ensure that they stop being lucrative parking spots for loyalists of not just the last government but his own.

If he examines the last government’s record he will see that the sinecures handed out were so arbitrary that you could promote Urdu and environmental protection at the same time. It all depended on where vacancies fell open and how much money was available. Rotation from one cause to the next was easy. Sadly even think tanks and serious publications became just mouthpieces of the Congress Party. So throw them all out Prime Minister, you have nothing to lose but an army of leeches.

In the view of this columnist, the most useless of Indian institutions is the institution of the Governor. Why do we need this remnant of colonial times at all? Why should taxpayers’ money be wasted on Raj Bhawans of magnificent proportions when the officials who reside therein are just politicians who have passed their prime? Having been a reporter in Srinagar at a moment in history when Indira Gandhi’s chosen Governor played a very destructive role, I feel it my duty to report that when Governors play any role it is usually an insidiously political one. So the best thing that could happen is for the institution to be abolished altogether. If the Prime Minister does not feel able to take so radical a measure then he must change governors appointed by the last government because they have got their jobs only from undying loyalty to the Dynasty.

The Planning Commission is another institution that deserves to be abolished unless it can be reinvented as …continued »

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