A problem as serious as AIDS and climate change

The Centre has 30 lakh of them, the State another 70 lakh. There are 80,000 “Category One” types, and 5,800 elite. Together, they comprise the Great Indian bureaucracy. Lant Pritchett of the Kennedy school of government at Harvard University, called it “one of the world’s ten biggest problems—of the order of AIDS and climate change”.

As another 140 of them prepare to join the Indian Administrative Service this year, The Economist has a cover story on the urgent need to reform the Babu Raj if the Indian Tiger isn’t to be held back.

It quotes Sanjoy Bagchi, a former IAS officer and the author of a recent history of the civil service:

“Overwhelmed by the constant feed of adulatory ambrosia, the maturing entrant tends to lose his head and balance. The diffident youngster of early idealistic years, in course of time, is transformed into an arrogant senior fond of throwing his weight around; he becomes a conceited prig.”

Read the full story: Battling the babu raj

Also read: With IAS officers like these, who needs the ISI?

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In picture: Tata Steel managing director B. Muthuraman (left) sits on the floor beside his former boss Russi Mody during the 100th Founder’s Day celebrations at Tata Steel works in Jamshedpur on Monday.