Feeding the beast – training the bureaucracy

Mission “Karamyogi”, the Modi governments first stab at public sector capacity development, was unveiled during the pandemic in September last year—a reminder that whilst the rest of us worked languidly from home, bureaucratic wheels continued to churn albeit with reduced physical presence.

The name of the Mission derives from the Bhagawad Gita—a lively, ancient, masterclass on morality and duty—and means “one who helps others without self-interest”; an apt description for the ideal bureaucrat.

Sadly, the public impression of the bureaucracy remains uncharitable as a colonial left-over, far removed from either the “healing touch” required during distressing times like the present or the urgent needs of a modern economy.  Of course, structural constraints also severely inhibit the holy grail of public service reform. The Mission document mentions “silo functioning” as a problem. But a far more serious malaise is the floating population of those who rule us, hopping departments and ministries seamlessly as promotion prospects dictate.

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