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India needs a Dr Dolittle

The Supreme Court was recently compelled to take recourse to the imagery of a parrot to lament the degradation of the CBI into abject slavery. Manoje Nath writes.

india Updated: May 14, 2013 22:39 IST
Manoje Nath
Manoje Nath
Hindustan Times

The Supreme Court was recently compelled to take recourse to the imagery of a parrot to lament the degradation of the CBI into abject slavery.

As if this was not enough, another court, in Bangalore, compared the IB to a pigeon. It is not exactly complimentary for the police forces to be told that their depravity is on a sub-human level.

Evolutionary biology tells us that the time and evolution are both unidirectional; they are barbed arrows incapable of going back in time but the history of the CBI has been one of progressive diminution.

Till the other day, it cut such a heroic figure that the mere entry of the CBI officer in critical cinematic moments would lift the morale of the audience, just when it appeared that all had been lost. How and when did this regression from a heroic stature to a universal butt of jokes take place?

In a crony capitalistic order, in an advanced stage of state capture, ‘society naturally divides itself into the very few and the many’ according to the ‘unequal faculties of acquiring property’ of its constituents. Such a differentiation of traits is most likely to occur in civil servants, politicians and power-brokers.

The several fold increase in public spending has dramatically enlarged the corruptive interface between the consenting public servant and the obliging client. On the other hand, dozens of laws that have been passed have brought more and more areas of our private and public concern under bureaucratic gaze and control.

This has created enormous opportunities for rent seeking and bribery. The CBI is no longer required to handle crimes in the ordinary sense of the term; more often than not it is the criminality of governments which keeps its hands full. Or if it is not the governments it is their more formidable patrons, the super-rich, in whose ‘gigantic shadow’ they ‘cast their miserable little tents.’

But as in the pre-modern days, when the crimes and their perpetrators were painted on a less grand scale, it is still the sole prerogative of the government to determine the working conditions of the organisation.

For the last several decades, ambitious political leaders have sought to create fiercely loyal battalions of bureaucratic palace guards who, if they pass the loyalty test, are exempted from every other.

The changed environment has led to a proliferation of officers with a natural tendency to voluntary servitude. Blind disobedience confers a massive selective advantage; the courage to stand up renders them incapable of finding a foothold in the fragile ecology of power. So the parrot cannot but speak in his master’s voice because he is wired like that, protein coded for blind obedience.

Manoje Nath retired as DGP, Homeguards, Bihar. The views expressed by the author are personal.

First Published: May 14, 2013 22:32 IST