Originally posted on 22 Nov 2011 :

Scams have become as common as bank robberies a few decades ago. We are beginning to get used to them. The only difference is in the magnitude of the money involved. The latest figure is so mind boggling that most  of us are not even able to comprehend the kind of impact it will have on our economy.

A minister has lost his job, and for the PM it is a test of his statesmanship. The coalition party to which Mr A Raja belongs may also feel the heat. The question is, “What will happen to the ‘babus’ who handled the files?” And the present perception is that NOTHING will happen to them. They will keep earning their well deserved 3% increments and also be promoted to positions of higher responsibility. This is because they have passed an examination at the time of their entry which is an antidote to all that ails the ordinary citizens. A friend of mine, Mr Aridaman Jit Singh says, the full form of IAS is, “Immune Administrative Service”

A few months ago, I wrote a piece on this subject entitled, “Firing from another person’s shoulder” which is relevant, and, therefore, placed below.

With best wishes,



Last week Maj Gen RK Joshi called on me. He was our instructor during our Degree Course days, and EME officers would remember him as one of our most highly qualified engineers. Consequently, he spent most of his time with the DRDO. He was commissioned in Jun 1960 and was in the Eastern sector during the 1962 debacle. He has analyzed the event very systematically, and his study reveals the following:

Pt Nehru, the architect of modern India suffered a severe stroke of depression from which he never quite recovered. He died in May 1964 at the age of 73.

VK Krishna Menon was removed from the post of Raksha Mantri for his incorrect assessment of the situation.

Gen Thapar, the COAS was sacked. The careers of Lt Gen Kaul and scores of other military officers took a “U” turn.

A few thousand soldiers died; many more were wounded and some were taken prisoners.

The psyche of the country received a severe blow. It was considered a ‘National Shame’

The question he asked me was, “Who was the Defence Secretary? And what was the punishment meted out to him?” I have asked several friends and also surfed the Internet but I am unable to find an answer. In all probability nothing was done to him, because he had no role in this!

Gen Joshi then took this discussion a step further. He observed that during the recent attack on Mumbai, dozens of soldiers and policemen have been killed. The whole nation is shaken. Mr. Shivraj Patil has lost his prestigious job. The CM of Maharashtra has been axed and several heads in the government are likely to roll. Can someone tell us as to what action has been taken against the Union Home Secretary or the Chief Secretary of Maharashtra? (Thomas tells me that they will all be “promoted” soon though he does not know why).

Having spent many years in and around the South Block, I marvel at the way our government has been structured. The Civil Servants rule the roost. In terms of promotions and status they are ahead of everyone else bymiles. They are central in the Pay Commission and the Cabinet Secretary is involved in every major decision making process. Yet, when things go wrong,they wash their hands off so clean that one wonders how!

A slightly closer examination reveals the secret. I have figured it out this way:

They never do anything themselves. They always find someone else to be the head, and they know how to reduce him to be a ‘figure head’. (In the Pay Commissions, they have a retired Judge). However they place themselves in a spot which has the maximum opportunity to influence matters.

After the event, they never face the Press or the Media. Their role is amorphous.

The senior amongst them rarely sign a letter or order. Our pension letter is signed by a Director, who is not directly recruited IAS officer. Only rarely do you find a paper signed by a Joint Secretary. Officers above that level rarely sign any document.

They have a strong association. It protects the interests of its members dutifully and diligently.

So we have our Defence headquarters in which the postings, promotions, rewards and punishments of all senior officers are controlled by the civil servants; and they also have the final say in the process of procurement of weapons and eqpt, but they are not “responsible” if things go wrong! It is authority without responsibility. (For those who may not know, a lowly officer in the MoD can have a Deputy Chief posted out, but a Service Chief cannot get even a Desk Officer moved)

When Gen Joshi left, I found myself perplexed. What sort of system have we evolved? And how has it survived all these years? It is a bit like a unit in which the clerks are running the unit and the CO isso dependent on the Head Clerk that he cannot move without their help! Can someone give a cogent answer to the questions raised by Gen Joshi?

A Tailpiece Politicians wear the dress of the people they represent, to identify themselves with the masses. Soldiers and policemen wear uniforms. Can someone tell what the Civil Servants wear? The answer came from the wag who said, “Civil servants wear thick skins”.


    Post Independence Organizational Setup and Functions

    On August 15, 1947, each Service was placed under its own Commander-in-Chief. Under the Constitution, the Supreme Command of the Armed Forces vested in the President. In 1955, the title of Commander-in-Chief was abolished and the three Service Chiefs were designated as the Chief of the Army Staff, the Chief of the Naval Staff and the Chief of the Air Staff. In November 1962, a Department of Defence Production was set up to deal with research, development and production of defence equipment. In November 1965, the Department of Defence Supplies was created for planning and execution of schemes for import substitution of requirements for defence purposes. These two Departments were later merged to form the Department of Defence Production and Supplies. In January 2004, the Department of Defence Production and Supplies has been renamed as the Department of Defence Production. A Scientific Adviser to the Defence Minister was appointed to advise him on scientific aspects of military equipment, research and design of equipment used by the Defence forces. In 1980, the Department of Defence Research and Development was created. Further, the Department of Ex-Servicemen Welfare was created in 2004.

    The Armed Forces are primarily responsible for ensuring the territorial integrity of the nation. The President of India is the Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces of the country. The Ministry of Defence, provides policy framework and wherewithal to the Armed Forces to discharge their responsibility in the context of the defence of the country.

    [edit]Departments Under the Ministry

    The Ministry of Defence now consists of four Departments, namely, Department of Defence, Department of Defence Production, Department of Defence Research & Development and Department of Ex-Servicemen Welfare . The Defence Secretary functions as head of the Department of Defence and is additionally responsible for coordinating the activities of the four Departments in the Ministry.

    The principal functions of all the Departments are as follows:
    The Department of Defence deals with the Integrated Defence Staff (IDS) and three Services and various Inter-Service Organisations. It is also responsible for the Defence Budget, establishment matters, defence policy, matters relating to Parliament, defence co-operation with foreign countries and co-ordination of all activities.
    The Department of Defence Production is headed by a Secretary and deals with matters pertaining to defence production, indigenisation of imported stores, equipment and spares, planning and control of departmental production units of the Ordnance Factory Board and for Defence Public Sector Undertakings (DPSUs).
    The Department of Defence Research and Development is headed by a Secretary, who is also the Scientific Adviser to the Raksha Mantri. Its function is to advise the Government on scientific aspects of military equipment and logistics and the formulation of research, design and development plans for equipment used by the Services.
    The Department of Ex-Servicemen Welfare is headed by an Additional Secretary and deals with all re-settlement, welfare and pensionary matters of Ex-Servicemen.

    The Finance Division of the Ministry of Defence is headed by Secretary Defence (Finance). He exercises financial control over proposals involving expenditure from the Defence Budget and is responsible for internal audit and accounting of defence expenditure. In the latter tasks, he is assisted by the Controller General of Defence



    Civil Servants follow the definition of Civil= Corruption Is Very Important In Life :-)


    Recently one of my Kashmiri Muslim suppliers told me that the terrorists pay Rs.6-7 Lacs to the army to cross the border and back after the attacks …. the chain goes right upto the top Army brass.

    He pays Rs.20,000 pm as protection money to the terrorists as protection money. The terrorists have links with the Sales Tax barrier guys and come and take a cut from the supplier for each shipment. It is very well organised racket. That is the reason army doesn’t want the special powers act to be removed, it fills the coffers of the top brass, while the jawans die to snipper fire.


    In the Final year at I.I.T. Kharagpur, the boys used to joke …. are you going to join the Industry or the IAS – Invisible After Sunset. Way back in the 70′s no one could imagine the clout they would carry with passage of time, specially up North. In Bengal, which was a poor State, apart from Calcutta, no one from the North wanted to join IAS. Infact one of our colleagues from Punjab did get into IAS and got the Kerala cadre …. but he left for USA in two years time, quiting the IAS.

    The JEE is considered to be the toughest exam in the world, if one could pass that, then IAS entrance exam was peanuts, compared to even the CAT exam of IIMs, which till date is dominated by the IITians.


    May be that is the reason the British named in Indian Civil Service ICS ….. to remain civilized to the people.

  6. Surindar Singh says:

    Dear Surjit

    Babu bashing will get us no where . Ask any seasoned IAS officer and he will tell you that role of any secy or Chief secy is to pin down his opinion and recommendation. Decision lies with the Minster . Secy of tele com did not make money ., Money was made by minister and political party he belonged to

    In 1962 , did we punish vice Chief /Dy Chief /DMO or then BGS of eastern Comd or 4 Corps, In Kargil war Brigade Commander od 121 Bde got the sack not his brig 2 i/c or BM , Credit or discredit goes to decision maker and not to adisor . Will any staff officer be punished for Adarsh or Sukhna Scam . ?

    IAS officers are clever / wise enough not to per step their role and they do not vicitimise junior IAS officers like Army does

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