Opinion

The doors of perception

Updated on: May 30, 2014

If public servants actually met the public, service might follow

Last week, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation released a ‘Standards of Services’ document. The press release said this was being done for “the benefit of the general public”, and pointed out that this was the very first time that such an exercise had been undertaken. “The highlight of the Document,” the release gushes, is that “it gives the timelines for the completion of an activity resulting in the issue of an approval, license, permit or a certificate by DGCA”, and goes on to claim, “After the issue of this Document, the general public will get enabled to know what to do and whom to approach for obtaining a service in DGCA.”

The exhaustive, 63-page document then goes on to list all kinds of activities relating to aircraft, aircraft operators, aerodromes, air space and air traffic management, approval of schedules and what have you, up to, and including, approvals for sky-diving and stunt shows!

There’s one prominent stakeholder missing from this gargantuan list — the ordinary, fare-paying passenger, whose money is helping to keep this edifice afloat. That is because the entire document is premised on the assumption that any and every ‘service’ rendered by the country’s apex civil aviation body is related to the receipt, processing and issuance of some sort of document or the other.

But then, why single out the DGCA? Its idea of what service means exemplifies what our entire bureaucracy thinks is its role and purpose. The ‘service standards’ which actually have nothing to do with the principal stakeholder also highlight the core problem with our governance delivery mechanism — a singular disconnect with the public.

Far from serving their alleged masters, our public servants have grown so disused to dealing with the public that even their existence is forgotten! Unless one is a big shot, or is willing to pay bribes, or has, to use that peculiarly Indian phrase, ‘approach’, one cannot even get to meet anybody from the bureaucracy at any decision-making level. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has promised to make revampimg the bureaucracy one of his top 10 priorities. He could start by ensuring that it is a government for the people.

Associate Editor

Published on March 12, 2018

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