THE GIST of Editorial for UPSC Exams : 25 January 2020 (Bureaucracy shouldn’t snuff out dissent (The Hindu))

Bureaucracy shouldn’t snuff out dissent (The Hindu)

Mains Paper 2: Polity
Prelims level : Model Code of Conduct
Mains level : Bureaucracy reforms and commute


  • The last General Elections were different. Their outcomes but what came to be known about the internal deliberations within the Election Commission.
  • There haven’t been very many occasions in the past when the differences between the Election Commissioners come out in the open when the election process is under way.
  • One of the Election Commissioners had apparently dissented when issues relating to violation of the Model Code of Conduct by Narendra Modi came up for consideration before the Commission. The issue was highlighted in some segments of the media.

Fear of being penalized:

  • However, what is troublesome within the bureaucracy is the increasing tendency amongst the civil servants not to air their views even during the course of internal discussions on account of the perceived risks associated with airing such views.
  • Moreover, such views don’t get to be known generally except when they get revealed in the context of an inquiry/investigation or in a subsequently written memoir.
  • The risks entailed in airing such differences of opinion in a hierarchical structure are much more as the superior authority can hold such a view against the officer and penalise the officer concerned through adverse mention in the Annual Confidential Report, transfer to a “punishment” post and the like.
  • But, despite such risks, there are officers who do air their views in hierarchical structures as well.
  • However, barring a few exceptions, they don’t necessarily go to town with such views.

Take the honourable route:

  • These were instances of not merely harbouring a dissenting view, these were public display of “dissent”.
  • It may be a “sacrilege” to advise the honourable judges (one of them rose to become the Chief Justice) because only they decide what is right and what is wrong but as far as other institutions are concerned, they would best be advised not to resort to a public spat.
  • There are honourable ways of settling a dispute.

Way ahead:

  • The debate so far has been around the judicial and quasi-judicial domain where the dissenting individual(s) enjoyed the same status as others but had a differing point of view.
  • There are indeed differences in opinions, as there should be, within hierarchical structures, like the bureaucracy, as well.
  • However, rarely do they take the shape of dissent as, once a decision gets taken, everyone down the hierarchy abides by the decisions and there is no public display of differences that may have existed.

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Prelims Questions:

Q.1) With reference to the ‘Development Support Services to States for Infrastructure Projects (D3S-i)’, consider the following statements:
1. It is an initiative of NITI Aayog.
2. The key objective behind the objective is creating PPP success stories and rebooting infrastructure project delivery models.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?
(a) 1 only
(b) 2 only
(c) Both 1 and 2
(d) Neither 1 nor 2

Answer: C
Mains Questions:
Q.1) Describe the role of civil servants in bureaucracy.