Opinion | There are thickets of red tape to be cleared
Modi has put the bureaucracy on notice for its poor performance over his first term. It is evident that the IAS is in need of thorough reforms. Let’s begin with its incentive structure
Prime Minister Narendra Modi wants to catapult India’s economy past the $5 trillion mark by 2024-25. This would require reforms in all spheres of policy. Unfortunately, one important aspect that hasn’t got enough attention is an overhaul of our bureaucracy that is increasingly being seen as more of a dampener than facilitator of growth. Red tape has tied up many a past administration in knots, and Modi seems determined not to let this happen to his. At the end of a meeting to review the progress of a government scheme, the Prime Minister recently gave bureaucrats an earful, saying that they had spoiled his first five-year term in office, but he would not let them spoil the second. That he felt the need to make such a scathing observation on the Indian Administrative Services (IAS) speaks poorly of an institution that was said to be the “steel frame" of governance in our early years of independence. It appears to have caught rust, as acknowledged even by those within. In an oped for Financial Times titled “Modi must position India as a haven for investment", Duvvuri Subbarao, who was the top bureaucrat in the finance ministry before being appointed governor of the Reserve Bank of India in 2008, referred to the persistence of “the stereotype of an indifferent, corrupt, venal bureaucracy" while calling for a new narrative to attract investors.