There has been some discussion lately about excluding the lower bureaucracy from the Lokpal. One of the main reasons being bandied about is that the Lokpal will be overloaded should it include the lower bureaucracy, and it will fail as a result of this overload. There are two sides to this issue — the politics and the feasibility.
Let us first look at the politics behind this move. The government, or for that matter, most political parties, are keen on excluding the lower bureaucracy because corruption at this level feeds the rank and file of the political parties. For example, more than 80% of Rs 40,000 crore of the PDS subsidy is siphoned off, all of it through ration shops and food officers. The Rs 35,000 crore food grain scam in UP over many years, which is currently being probed by the CBI, took place at the lowest rung of the bureaucracy involving several hundred employees. This is a phenomenon that cuts across party lines and sadly comes at the expense of the poorest of our poor people. Including the lower bureaucracy under the Lokpal could potentially cut off the life-supply of our country’s political establishment. Not surprisingly, a consensus around excluding the lower bureaucracy is bound to emerge among our political parties.