Bihar’s corrupt IAS regime part of a malaise that requires urgent surgery, even amputation

The IAS Officers Association of Bihar has practically expressed no-confidence in the Constitutionally elected Nitish Kumar government of the state. Association members met governor Ram Nath Kovind on Sunday, and brazenly defended their fellow officer Sudhir Kumar who headed the Bihar staff selection commission and was arrested on charges of corruption.

Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar

Perhaps for the first time in the history of independent India, an association of the country’s most coveted civil services seems to defend the indefensible. They have demanded a CBI probe, saying Kumar was framed by the Bihar police. On the face of it, it appears the civil administration and the state police are on a warpath.

Now look at the case in which Kumar is arrested. He, along a score of other officials of the staff selection commission, was accused of leaking question papers for an examination to be conducted for recruitment of clerks in the state government. And prima facie there is evidence that points to brazen collusion in the crime.

Even those having an elementary understanding of governance would testify that it’s beyond the capacity of a senior superintendent of police in Patna to arrest a senior IAS officer like Sudhir Kumar without a watertight case. And there is hardly any history of Sudhir Kumar having a run-in with the Nitish Kumar government in the past.

In this setting what the IAS officers’ association has been doing in Bihar is nothing but an outright defiance of an elected government. If one looks even cursorily at the growth trajectory of the state, it can be easily surmised that nobody had done so much disservice to Bihar as top-ranking civil servants, like IAS and IPS officers. During an internal assessment meeting once, Nitish talked about corruption in governance and lamented, “Tell me one scheme where you don’t indulge in corruption.”

His lamentation was not without reason. In the post-independence years, Bihar was among the best administered states…

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