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THE TEFLON TRIBE

By suhel_seth on Feb. 2nd, 2009

In the entire ruckus that followed 26/11, we took every politician to task; we berated the lack of equipment that our defense services were working with; we commented on the apathetic system we’ve engendered but not once did we ask for a bureaucrat’s scalp? Not once did we make examples of their inefficiency and ask for their removal. And the story keeps repeating itself. This was the same tribe, which desisted from giving snowmobiles to our brave hearts in Siachen until George Fernandes made an issue of it. These were the same jokers who kept India’s army in the boonies as far as equipment is concerned only so that they could exert greater power. Tales of one-upmanship between the IAS officer and army commanders is well known and well documented but yet we have not sacked one of these fellows.

Even more recently in the Satyam scandal, enough noise has been made about YSR Reddy and Chandrababu Naidu and we have also seen the silly arrests of well-regarded professionals but not once have the independent directors been questioned or arrested. You know why? Because one of them, T R Prasad belongs to the Teflon tribe: he was India’s former Cabinet Secretary. As long as we leave these people out of the domain of accountability we will send signals that are confusing and bad in spirit. This is the point we actually need to address. We cannot have a situation where in this country and entire tribe of self-serving officers is left out of the accountability bucket only because it is a cosy club.

There must be weeding out and there must be demonstrable punishment. If news channels can call in politicians and industrialists and read them the riot act, they must have the courage to do the same with this Teflon tribe. But you know why this may never happen?

Because in many organizations, the children of this Teflon tribe occupy places of influence.

Exceptions to the rule exist and there are examples of some superb officers too. What V Krishnamurthy did to Maruti followed by R C Bhargava or for that matter Bhaskar Ghose did to Doordarshan are examples of unbridled success but they exist far and between. Why for instance did we sack Shivraj Patil and take no action against the current Home Secretary who is not just inept but seems to be as lost in a world of mannequins as his former boss was?