Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Corruption due to Political Interference in Civil Services

The survey - carried out by the Centre for Good Governance, Hyderabad, in collaboration with ACNielsen ORG- MARG at the behest of Ministry of Personnel, GOI – is reported to have come out with some interesting findings about the Revenue Services. The 80 percent of the 4,808 civil service officers in the survey say that political corruption in the country takes place, because there are always some civil servants willing to collaborate in it.

Revenue Services

The survey found that in case of services dealing with revenue collection, it is reportedly a common practice to "derail an honest assessing officer by making anonymous complaint against him". While commenting on the plight of honest officers, few respondents said that enquiry on baseless allegations itself is a punishment; it does not matter if he or she is exonerated in the end.

Pointing out to a trend where some of the successful candidates even prefer to join Indian Revenue Services the report says, a few officers have also expressed the view that probationers leaving other central services and joining revenue services or preferring revenue services over even the coveted IAS clearly betrays their intentions.


Corrupt Officers Flourish

The first ever government-sponsored 'perception' survey of civil servants highlights that a majority of respondents felt that corrupt officers get away without being punished. It was also felt that corrupt officers are able to get the most sought after postings. Harassment of honest officials through baseless complaints and investigations also turns out to be major issue in several services.


Disillusionment of the Honest

The survey - conducted referring to 11 major thematic areas ranging from work environment, transfers, postings, integrity to harassment and discrimination - has found that many of the notions of bureaucrats about the civil services shattered, forcing almost an one-third of them to think about resigning from their respective services at some point of time, in their service.


Political Interference

Political interference in civil services has been widely cited as a major reason for the poor performance of the services. Though the survey did not cover this issue explicitly, influence of political considerations in various aspects of administration was brought out through the comments offered by a number of civil servants across the services. "It has been pointed out that lure of post retirement assignments is a major reason for spinelessness of the senior civil servants," says the report.



The findings have come out with a different facet of discrimination within the bureaucracy as well. Officers remarked that discrimination is rampant based on caste, religion, region and service. Some women officers stated that there definitely is a 'glass ceiling' and female officers are denied good service postings. The survey shows that "Women officers are posted in development sector and not given postings in departments that deal with infrastructure, power or other such sectors,"


Hegemony of IAS Resented

The issue of perceived disparity between officers belonging to the IAS and other services is considered as a major cause for inter-service rivalry and demoralization of non-IAS officers. "Most non-IAS respondents consider it unfair to perpetuate the entry-level advantage of IAS officers for the entire duration of their service spanning two to three decades," the report adds.

Most non-IAS respondents resented the hegemony of the IAS in all the senior positions in government, which gave them the authority to undertake cadre management and planning of all services.




Monday, December 13, 2010

Will Guilty Babu ever Get Punished ?

Indian Bureaucracy


 Many developed & developing countries have focused on restructuring of their governments, to be purposive, responsive, effective and accountable in the key functions they perform in the society. This is a far cry, by what we see and hear in our country, as swift and harsh action is not being taken against a serving bureaucrat, who is found to be guilty and violating All India Service (Conduct) Rules.

A bureaucrat, with guaranteed security of service irrespective of performance, who finds himself unequal to the task he is assigned & feels insecure, becomes an authoritarian, using his position than his ability, to assert himself. He would be obsequious before his superiors or benefactors and indifferent, arrogant and inaccessible to those he is supposed to serve..

Proliferation of Bureaucracy

As India liberalized over the last two decades, there was genuine hope that the strangle hold of bureaucracy would be replaced by more efficient administration of technocrats and neutral regulators. But as the State itself got involved in welfare programs and infrastructure development, the grip of  bureaucracy on the nation's resources and exchequer has actually tightened, with the Babu emerging as ever more powerful.


The bureaucrats after their retirement invariably land themselves as the heads of the Regulatory Bodies, such as Telecom Regulatory Authority of India and even the Vigilance Commission of India. The result is that the corruption has been institutionalized in departments handling critical public functions.


Neta- Babu Nexus


The Indian political system, which is driven by huge amounts of black money, is dependent on its obliging bureaucracy, to find ways and means to loot the exchequer and the public money. This is further aggravated by imperfect electoral process, resulting in fractured mandates, leading to the "tail wagging the dog" for political black mail and splitting the spoils.


The obliging Babu with political patronage, abdicates his duty of implementing the laid down policy and becomes submissive to morally bankrupt Neta. Thus the unholy nexus of Politician (Neta) and Bureaucrat (Babu) have created all pervasive system, in which Politics, Elections and Capturing  Power is driven by creating massive amounts of black money, leading to systemic corruption.


Scams & Babus


During the last few weeks, the CWG, Adarsh Housing Society, 2G Spectrum etc scams, which have shamed us globally, have come to light. In each of these cases, the Civil Servants (Babus) played the central role, forming an integral part of the decision making process. It is the Babu who helps the Neta to manipulate the decision making process and doctor the files, to amass the illegal wealth at the expense of the poor and the hungry.


In all the cases, the Political leaders concerned have been forced to resign or edged out, for alleged involvement in the scams, while the Military officials are facing the court of enquiry for swift and harsh punishment. The embarrassed Former Chiefs of Army and the relatives of Political leaders have given up their apartments in Adarsh.


But we are yet to see any such act of repentance by any bureaucrat involved in these scandals, leave alone any swift action even to suspend those found guilty. The Civil Servants, sit back pretty and enjoy their Position, Loot and Pension, as if the scams do not concern them at all. For them the punishment is the exception rather than the norm.


Immunity enjoyed by Bureaucrats?


The message that the system seems to convey is that the bureaucrat is not responsible and not accountable to the manipulations that take place in the administrative setup under his domain. How else one can interpret the fact that hardly any serving bureaucrat  has ever been punished or lost his job, in spite of so may scandals and scams taking place in the country?


Why have a bureaucracy, which can not be made responsive, effective and accountable in the key functions they are expected to perform, in governing the country? Will the Politicians ponder over this and do something drastic to set right things, before the "Cancer of Corruption" spreads and becomes unmanageable? The Public is equally responsible to raise their voice and fight against this Demon of Corruption.



Friday, December 10, 2010

Rescheduling of International Late-Night Flights

Noise Levels at International Airports       


This is to highlight the adverse impacts of the  present practice of majority of International Flights arriving and departing the Indian Airports around midnight / silent hours.  As a result, the quality of life of people in metros, living near the Airports and under the Flight Paths, is adversely affected by Noise levels, arising out of aircraft  and  from the surface access to airports, particularly from road transport, during silent hours .The permissible noise level limit in Residential areas during silent hours is 45 dB(A).


Why Preferential Treatment for West?


Because of the western countries' policy of shutting airports at night, the flights to Europe cannot leave India in late afternoon and reach there at midnight. If India were to go for night curfews, because of the growing concerns over quality of life for residents in metros, most flights will have to leave Europe at night, to reach India when the airports are open.

Level Playfield    

 At present, all international flight movement in India happens, in about 16 hours of the day, which means greater noise and emission levels of pollution for the concerned metros. Instead, the international flight movement – arrivals and departures- should be evenly spread out in 24 hours, taking care that late-night flights are minimized, to reduce the adverse impact on quality of life of the residents, in the neighbor hood of the Airports.




Climate Change- Impact of proposed Airports in District HQs of AP

National Action Plan for Climate Change ( NAPCC )

 In order to respond effectively to the challenges of Climate Change, the Government of India formulated National Action Plan for Climate Change (NAPCC), under the guidance of Prime Minister's Advisory Council on Climate change. One of the guiding principles of NAPCC is for protecting the poor and vulnerable sections of society, through an inclusive and sustainable development strategy, sensitive to Climate Change.

Transportation Sector

As per NAPCC document, the estimates of the Planning Commission indicate an energy saving potential of 115 mtoe (million tones of oil equivalent) in the year 2031/32, by increasing the share of Railways and improving efficiencies of different modes of Transport. TERI estimates, indicate an energy saving of 144 mtoe in 2031, by including efficiency improvement across modes, as well as considering enhanced use of Public Transport and Rail-based movement, use of bio-diesel, as compared to business-as-usual trends. The corresponding CO2 emissions reduction is estimated at 433 million tones in 2031.

 It is also stated that the Policy and Technology measures, can lead to significant energy and thereby emission savings in the transportation Sector and some of the measures suggested are:

a)    Promoting the use of Coastal Shipping & Inland Waterways, apart from encouraging attractiveness of Rail-based movement, relative to long distance Road-based movement

b)    Establishing mechanisms to promote investments in development of high-capacity (Rail-based) public transport systems (equity participation etc)

c)    Appropriate Transport Pricing, Taxes & Charges are expected to influence travel demand, choice of Transportation mode and, the purchase & use of vehicles, in respect of fuel choice & efficiency, thereby decreasing fuel demand and GHG emissions

Aviation Sector-Climate Change- Rogue Sector 


The NAPCC does not talk of Aviation, even though it is reported to be a "Rogue Sector" and its environmental impact is out of control. The CO2 emissions from international aviation contributing to "Global Warming", are reported to have gone up considerably, from 1990 to 2002 and it is projected that emissions will be more than doubled by 2025. In terms of damage to the climate, Flying is 10 times worse than taking the Train. It is estimated that Air-Travel releases 75% more CO2 per passenger, mile for mile, than driving an economy sized car.

The aviation sector is responsible for 13 per cent of the UK's impact on the climate and it is the fastest growing source of emissions in the UK and the predictions are that aviation will contribute between 25% to 50% by 2050. The main cause of this massive growth of emissions in the UK, is the proliferation of Short-Haul Routes - often unnecessary domestic ones. 

Adverse Impact of Government Aviation Policy 

The Climate Change is the most urgent challenge facing the humanity and the Aviation Policy of the Central & State Governments, is doing the opposite of what is required, by catering to insatiable demands of Aviation Sector, by way of more Airports, Runways, Terminals. etc. in the name of economic development.

The subsidies and liberal concessions offered to Aviation Sector by taxpayers' money, disproportionately favours the economically better off, as those of lower incomes fly infrequently. This goes against the very guiding principle of NAPCC, for protecting the poor and vulnerable sections of society, through an inclusive and sustainable development strategy, sensitive to Climate Change.

AP State Proposal for Airports in District Headquarters

 It is gathered from the press reports that AP Government has plans to establish new Airports at about eight locations-namely Nellore, Ongole, Tadepallygudem, Kurnool, Kadapa, Warangal, Nizamabad and Ramagundam adding massive growth of emissions  by  proliferation of Short-Haul Routes, which are considered  unnecessary and not sensitive to Climate Change.  .

The existing five Airports at Hyderabad, Visakhapatnam, Rajahmundry, Vijayawada and Tirupati, can be developed adequately, to cater for aviation requirements of other towns by inter linking them to the nearest Airport, through energy efficient, fast and high capacity Rail-based / Road-based Transport systems.

Alternatives to Aviation

 It is of utmost importance and urgency to curtail emissions by restricting the capacity of aviation sector- short-haul routs in particular- without hampering the economic development.  Some of the suggestions for consideration are:

a)    Wider access to and the use of electronic communication devices such as interactive videoconferencing can be made more attractive to obviate expensive business air travel and restricting its use.

b)    As the Railway Network in AP State did not get its due, during the last six decades, the augmentation of existing network by strengthening & modernization, the addition of newlines interlinking district headquarters etc, should get higher priority than Airports, which need thousands of acres of land and higher capital investments, that too catering for upper strata of the society. This obviates proliferation of CO2 intensive Short-Haul Air Routes.

c)    To opt for fast and attractive Inter-City Rail Transport, much more energy efficient than Road or Air transport, apart from being comparatively Cheaper & Safer. For example, the Inter-City fast passenger trains connecting Kurnool and Warangal to Hyderabad, Kadapa & Nellore to Tirupati, and Tadepallygudem to Rajahmundry etc are better options, than airports at these places.   

In the light of the position explained above, it is requested the proposal to set up airports in the district headquarters of AP state be held in abeyance & reviewed.   


Monday, December 6, 2010

Motor Vehicles & Energy Conservation?

Automotive Sector

 It is reported , that Prime Ministers Office (PMO) favored the views of the Ministries of Surface Transport and Heavy Industries, that the Surface Transport Ministry  govern the Auto Fuel efficiency norms, under more specific Motor Vehicle Act , instead of the 'Generic' Energy Conservation  (EC) .Act 2001 under Power Ministry.


 As a result the Automotive Sector, which is estimated to consume around 40% of petroleum products in the country, is likely to slip out of the ambit of E.C. Act, leaving the entire Mission for Enhanced Energy Efficiency ( EEE) segment of National Action Plan on Climate Change (NAPCC) redundant.


Energy Conservation (E.C) Act 2001


The E.C Act, 2001 has been placed on the statute book, with avowed object to provide for efficient use of Energy and its Conservation and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto, after it was assented by the President on 29 th September, 2001.


 As per E.C. Act, Energy means any form of energy derived from fossil fuels, nuclear substances or materials, hydro-electricity and includes electrical energy or electricity generated from renewable sources of energy or bio-mass, connected to the grid.


 The .Act empowers GOI to enforce efficient use of energy and its conservation. The GOI, by notification, in consultation with the BEE, specify the norms for processes and energy consumption standards for any equipment, appliance which consumes, generates, transmits or supplies energy.


Aberrations of E.C Act and NAPCC


 Even after nearly 9 years, since the provisions of E.C. Act had come into force on 1-3-2002, its applicability to Automotive Industry is being questioned & debated.


 The casual reading of E.C Act gives, an impression that it relates to energy efficiency measures in respect of processes, equipment, appliances etc  associated with electrical power  only, which needs to be corrected,


 Even the National Mission for Enhanced Energy Efficiency of NAPCC , talks of industrial sector only and anticipated a saving of 10,000 MW by 2012, leaving out Automotive sector, and Petroleum products, supporting the above impression.


The regulatory standards for enforcing fuel efficiency standards for Automobile Manufacturers is dealt under promotion of Urban Public Transport, as part National Mission of Sustainable Habitat of NAPCC.




Just as the Financial Resources are regulated, governed and managed by the Finance Ministry of GOI, the Efficient Use of all Energy Resources need to be governed, regulated & managed by a separate Ministry, covering Energy Efficiency, Energy Resource Conservation and Renewable Sources of Energy. The MNRE may be clubbed with the new ministry.


The National Missions of NAPCC may be modified, to ensure that all aspects of energy efficiency and conservation in Industrial, Commercial, Domestic, Building, Transport, Aviation etc Sectors, are covered under Mission for Enhanced Energy Efficiency and brought under the New Ministry to be formed.


The E.C. Act 2001, may be amended as required, to remove any ambiguity regarding applicability of its provisions, for ensuring efficient use of commercial energy in all forms and its conservation.





Friday, December 3, 2010

Environmental Clearance for Jaitapur Nuclear Power Complex

Sri Jairam Ramesh, Minister for Environment & Forests , GOI   making public the detailed reasoning for granting Environmental Clearance (E.C ) in a matter of 80 days to Jaitapur Nuclear Power Complex ( 6 x1650 MW) of Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd (NPCIL), justified saying that it was essential to facilitate NPCIL and AREVA to sign General Framework Agreement as well as Works Agreement very soon and the Final Contracts in the first half of 2011. In other words, to meet the target date for the scheduled visit of the French President in the first week of December.


The E.C has been granted, stipulating 35 conditions, without waiting for "Carrying Capacity" and "Cumulative Impact Assessment" Studies, which are considered essential for the area which is considered to be ecologically sensitive and even without finalizing the project design and approval by AERB. It is evident, the entire EIA Process for Jaitapur NP Complex of NPCIL, is nothing but going through a formality / ritual, about a predetermined project, marginalizing the environmental & safety considerations and the public opinion.


 Role of Environment Ministry 


The Minister tried to absolve the obligation of his Ministry by saying that he is not the competent authority to pass judgment on matters related to the Need, Economics and Safety of Nuclear Power Plants. But the Ministry entrusted with the task of enforcing The Environment Protection Act, cannot absolve of its responsibility to prevent Environmental Pollution from Nuclear Power Complexes and allied activities, namely  radiation discharges in excess of safe limits stipulated by AERB, into Water, Air & Land including the Food-chain.


The economic development may have environmental impacts but the economic impacts of the environmental problems are also significant. Therefore, irrespective of competency of authorities concerned regarding Nuclear Power Projects, the EIA Process should have clearly identified and characterized the critical environmental consequences and risks of the Jaitapur NPP, so that the public can farm a view about environmental acceptability of the project.


Nuclear Energy Cleaner?


 While pleading that his Ministry is not the competent authority to pass judgment on matters related to the Need, Economics and Safety of Nuclear Power Plants, the Minister advocated that  from environmental point of view, Nuclear Energy is cleaner option than Coal.


The fact is, "It takes energy to make energy"- even Nuclear Energy. Although a Nuclear power plant itself releases no carbon dioxide, the production of nuclear electricity, depends upon a vast complex and hidden industrial infrastructure (Nuclear Fuel Cycle- very Expensive, Sophisticated and Dangerous Way to Boil Water) is the intensive user of Fossil Fuel -the kind of energy the Nuclear power is touted as replacing -with the concurrent production of Carbon Dioxide.         

Far from being an answer to the problem of Emissions & Climate Change, Nuclear Power would be a miss-allocation of resources, making things worse by diverting funds away from better and cheaper alternatives. We get six times the reductions in CO2, by investing in Energy-Efficiency, rather than Nuclear Power and much faster too.


Must Energy Consumption Rise in Lockstep with Economic Growth?

The Minister also emphasized the need for increase of Electricity generating capacity at about 7% per year to sustain real Annual GDP growth rate of 9 % per year. For increasing the share of Nuclear energy in the fuel mix, its increase of 6% by 2020 and 13% by 2030, from the existing 2.9% of the total generating capacity, has been advocated.

 Linking energy consumption / supply with the growth rate, embodied the Myth that economic vitality requires steadily increasing energy consumption. The Nation's Energy Security depends on efficient use of Energy Services that maximize economic competitiveness and minimize environmental degradation / impacts. 


The per capita energy consumption of energy in India is estimated to be far behind  USA,  Japan, and the Asia average and the  energy intensity (energy consumption per unit of GDP),  is high compared to Japan, the USA, and Asia as a whole. This indicates inefficient use of energy in India, with a substantial scope for energy savings, even at lower per capita consumption.


 It is nothing but suicidal trying to target for higher per capita consumption of energy, to sustain annual GDP growth rate, instead of trying to improve efficiency and cutting down the energy intensity, through technological innovations, which are cost effective and eco-friendly




 Historically disputes between Industry, Governments and Community are always Unequal and Unfair, because people, who have been damaged by irresponsible industries, almost never have the expertise or funding to conduct their own studies and the Governments invariably support this mindless damage by industries in the name of GDP Growth, which is not Inclusive.   


At this time, when our National and State Leaderships are advocating Nuclear Power for Energy Security & Sustainable Development, it is important that the facts are made known to the public and that legitimate arguments against & for Nuclear Power are heard and given due consideration, before opting for Nuclear Power, which doesn't seem to add up Economically, Environmentally or Socially and is neither the answer to modern energy problems nor a panacea for Climate Change challenges.


 The Human beings are at the center of concerns for Sustainable Development and the Human beings are entitled to a healthy and productive life in harmony with nature, keeping the human being as the central focus of all developmental activities.