The officials of the Ramnagar based Uttarakhand board were red faced recently when they were forced to declare the much awaited results of class X and XII board on the website of National Informatics Centre (NIC). The reason for this discomfiture was the fact that the official website of the board had broken down and all the pleas to get it repaired had fallen on deaf ears. Similarly the much hyped and multi Crore virtual classroom project in government schools failed to operate when the CM used it to connect to Panchayat representatives. These fiascos are glaring examples that all the lofty talk about digital Uttarakhand is on the path of going horribly wrong. One gets to hear a lot about high speed broadband connectivity in all parts of the state, digital villages, e- Vidhan Sabha, e-governance, e- offices, e- health, Tele- medicine, e- education and e- banking but on ground things are different from what is being claimed. The official websites of many departments have not been updated for years, for example the website of the higher education department still shows S Ramaswami as Secretary who has long retired after serving as Chief Secretary of the state. It is an open secret that the officials wary of the transparency the e- offices would usher in, deliberately try to disrupt the process of digitisation as it makes them less important in the system.
In the eyes of the general public a perception is fast gaining ground that the Babudom of the Himalayan state has become unbridled. The recent show of anger by senior cabinet minister Madan Kaushik when to his utter dismay he found that many secretaries holding important departments have given a miss to a meeting convened by him reaffirmed the public opinion of bureaucracy becoming out of control. Incidentally Madan Kaushik is not alone in the council of ministers for having a grudge against the behaviour of bureaucracy as others too both openly and in private have acknowledged this fact.
One feels pity when elected representatives complain that senior officers are not picking up their phone calls or not giving any importance to them when they meet them. Interestingly despite all the clamour and rap on the knuckles given by the chief minister and the chief secretary many Babus have adopted a devil may care attitude. In such a scenario a general feeling (and genuinely so) sinks in the masses that they should not expect much from a system where the Babus who can dare to ignore their representatives rule the roost. It remains to be seen how the new boss of bureaucracy in the state tackles the issue.
The unilateral action of the state administration on the leaders and members of the principal opposition party of the state under the epidemic act and other provisions for not adhering to the norms of social distancing during their protests has raised eyebrows. The administration should and must take necessary punitive action for ensuring public safety especially during the prevailing pandemic period but when the same administration turns a blind eye to the similar offenses of the leaders and workers owing allegiance to the ruling dispensation, the sincerity of the officials comes under doubt. It is advisable that the state government should direct the officials to refrain from looking things with jaundiced eyes.
Friday, 31 July 2020 | Gajendra Singh Negi | Dehradun