Lack of professionalism is killing India

Professional standards are essential in a modern society. All professions have standards i.e. qualifications and code of ethics. Professional standards are defined and set mainly by independent professional organizations. Where a profession directly impacts consumers, government has to step in to protect people. To ensure quality professionalism, governments often have “boards” that along with public managers usually have representatives of that profession. Such boards have the requisite authority to enforce standards by setting required examinations and code of ethics. Boards have authority to issue licenses and the authority to take away such license when professional standards are violated by the professional.
In the U.S. and Canada the authority to regulate and set professional standards is given to State (Provincial) governments.
The rationale behind this important government responsibility is simple: Without objective, measurable standards quality of service reasonable expected from a profession cannot be guaranteed or enforced.

Which is why enforcing professional standards is a major function and responsibility of government.
Whether it is the practice of medicine, law, accounting or hair dressing, all professions need standards that not only ensure quality but most important protect the public.
India cannot enforce standards because it requires good government. Good governance, in turn, requires professional public managers who know how to conduct themselves and understand their role in protecting the public.


Democracy gives specific governing authority. In a democracy, there is no such thing as unlimited power. No matter what office a person holds, there are always limits to authority and power. This simple, but essential, element of democracy was not understood (and not understood even today) in post-independent India. “Ministers” i.e. elected politicians in the Executive branch, routinely and aggressively interfere with career government employees. This happens because protected Merits System for career personnel was never established at any level in government.
This problem of “politics” is recognized in all developed democracies where the elected politicians, who are assumed to be temporary, have no authority over personnel matters of career employees. It is recognized that “politics” cannot be allowed in some core functions of government, such as law enforcement among many others. Politicians have limited or no authority in key areas that demand professional neutrality and performance. Whereas in the “World’s largest democracy” politicians routinely interfere with career employees. Politicians have killed professionalism in government by making career employees as their cronies. Cronyism kills professionalism. Political interference by elected officials ensures the permanent career service employees can no longer conduct themselves in accordance with the standards of their profession.

The results are tragic. With no professionalism left in the government who can enforce any professional standards?


Constant political meddling with career professionals since post-independence, has destroyed the standards of professional conduct among career personnel. All IAS and IPS, etc. personnel, who are supposed to be career professionals are cronies of “ministers.” The politicians have made sure that they wield absolute, unquestioned power in their respective “ministries.” Instead of opposing this brash interference of politician into professional services, the “bureaucrats” have quite willingly become part of this culture of political cronyism thereby ensuring a complete wreckage of professional standards in government.
The only solution is to stop political interference in core government functions such as Records, Account and Budgeting, and Procurement (contracts). This cannot be achieved without implementing a modern Merits based personnel system that has protected professional categories.
Ironically, such merit protection in post-independent India was only provided to the “Foreign Secretary” through a constitutional provision. Why was this protection only provided to “Foreign Secretary” (who is required to be selected from the Indian Foreign Service) and not other career professionals? However, even that provision with regards to “Foreign Secretary” is not really a merits services protection. It merely says this post cannot go to an elected politician. This does nothing because the selection process is still in the hands of the “foreign minister.”

Political interference from “minsters” cannot be permitted into areas of government that ought to be managed by knowledgeable public managers and “technocrats.” The major problem, however, is the antiquated career personnel hiring system The exam based systems, introduced by the British, still holds. Modern governance requires professionals knowledgeable in such areas as Energy, Education, Public Health and technology. These professionals should get their basic training in college. But not a single university in India has a Public Administration faculty. India boasts about IITs but has no place to train professionals needed for public service.
The ultimate dilemma of India (and hundreds of countries face the same situation) is a destruction of professionalism in public management. Unfortunately, India has failed to cultivate career government employees who uphold and enforce professional standards — who do not allow politicians to freely meddle into the day-to-day running of the government. Politicians ought to be setting policy. It is the job of the career professionals to implement the legitimate goals of political leadership for the good of everyone.
After 65 plus years of ending colonial rule India now has no hope because where are these public managers going to come from? As was said, India has no colleges or universities where Public Administration faculty exists. The point being that professionalism takes a lot of education and training to develop. This has not happened. Frankly, that is why India has very little to count on. Absence of professionalism in the government ensures the present culture of political corruption perpetrated by unbridled politicians will continue.
Of all the people, there is some hope in retired “officers.” First, because of the mandatory retirement age most of these former career employees are fairly young. They were in those positions where critical responsibility was given to them. They know how they were subjected to this corrupt system of political slavery where they simply could not do their jobs.
Instead of joining politics as usual why not band together and end this unrestrained political raaj of the politicians. Why not restore democracy? Democracy is not about elections Democracy is about power, yes government executive power. How it is exercised and distributed is what distinguishes a democracy from others. Hint: In a democracy, there is no such thing as absolute power. “Minsters” simply do not have authority to meddle with the career services employees who constitute the real government. Yes, it is the permanent employees doing their jobs in core government functions that run government. Politician have no authority to interfere in law enforcement, revenue collection and procurement. The government professionals are sworn to protecting people’s resources. They should not allow politicians to plunder government resources as if they belong to them. You professionals know that is wrong and must be stopped. You can come together and start speaking up against political interference by elected officials. You must restore democracy by clearly drawing and defining the lines of authority. By restoring the rule of law – yes, rules and law do apply to politicians as they apply to all in a democratic society.

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