Monday, January 16, 2012

PAUPER’S LOG: Yes Minister



Yes Minister

By Abu Arsh

Visit of a minister from the Union of India to its far flung and geographically detached union territory is an occasion most of us Islanders have grown up looking forward to. Unfortunately, of late due to various reasons including security concern, tour itinerary and other commitments, it's only through govt. media that we come to know someone has come and gone back to Delhi. These high profile visitors being ministers and senior bureaucrats are all part of the decision making bodies at the seat of power at New Delhi for welfare of its subjects including these islands along with the rest of country. It's not surprising that we get vague policies and programmes which have no input from the local stakeholders or their representatives.
The modus operandi of our bureaucrats and its protocol officer who plan the tour itineraries of our VIP ministers and officials make sure there is least possible exposure of them with the local media, public representatives or general public. Recent visit of two young Turks of the UPA govt. to the islands are testimony to the fact that all is not well with the Administration. Milind Deora and Pradeep Jain Aditya are both Ministers of State, Govt. of India. Deora being the MoS for Communications and Information Technology and Jain Aditya for Rural Development are very important ministers for us islanders too. These two are known to be future of Indian politics and belong to an inner coterie of the crown prince of the Gandhi legacy - Rahul Gandhi, who as we all know, is a big name in this country and we could've hoped for redressal of our concerns if issues reach the higher echelons of power at New Delhi.
 In drawing a tour itinerary of these VIP's where in great amount of money is drained from the public exchequer just for pleasure tours for their families and entourage without interaction with the local population is to cheat and dupe the public. Jain Aditya landed at Port Blair around noon on 2nd January 2012, he was immediately whisked away to Raj Niwas. He and his family were offered time only to freshen up, not even allowed to have lunch as it was packed to be had at the waiting VIP boat of the Administrator bound for Havelock. A few senior public representatives of the Island's grass root democratic bodies sought an appointment with the Rural Development, MoS but in came the Protocol Officer, with his unwritten code of conduct wherein a Minister can only be met with the permission of the Administrator or the Chief Secretary even if you happen to be a person of the status of Zilla Parishad, Adhyaksh. At Havelock where innumerable ministers and senior bureaucrats visit quite frequently away from public glare not much has happened even for its development apart from a few of them acquiring a nami or benami property. Enjoying the administration's hospitality and doing nothing worthwhile at Havelock, the minister and his entourage headed back to Port Blair with a mandatory and customary visit to the national memorial- Cellular jail moments before taking off for his return journey back. Meanwhile a determined Adhyaksh with his representation for effective and efficient implementation of centrally sponsored flagship programmes for Rural Development made a last ditch effort to meet the Minister at the corridors of the cellular jail where the Minister's son was busy clicking away snaps of our great national heroes for his mates back at Delhi. Adhyaksh too moves around in a lal batti as per protocol here but his meeting and discussions were on foot strolling around the infamous jail of the erstwhile Kalapani. The minister was impressed by the Adhyaksh and seriousness of the issues raised by him. Moment's later minister was Delhi bound and another VIP had visited the Islands.
This is the way our Bureaucracy functions as we have inherited the British system of Bureaucracy aptly portrayed in Yes Minister a satirical series first transmitted by BBC Television between 1980-1982 and 1984. As the series revolves around the inner workings of central government, most of the scenes take place in private locations, such as offices and exclusive members' clubs because government does not take place in the House of Commons (Lok Sabha for us). Some politics and much theatre take place there. Government happens in private. As in all public performances, the real work is done in rehearsal, behind closed doors. Then the public and the House are shown what the government wishes them to see. Lets all gear up to welcome M.A. Chidambaram, Home Minister of the Union of India from our living rooms.

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