No single institution has disappointed us more than our bureaucracy. When we were young we bought the cruel myth of the “steel frame” – a stable system that would provide continuity. We were told that Britain was not as well-governed as India because it did not have the Indian Civil Service. Today our bureaucracy has become the single biggest obstacle to development. Indians think of their bureaucrats as self-serving, obstructive and corrupt. Instead of shepherding through economic reforms, they are blocking them.
In the 1950s, the idealistic Jawaharlal Nehru, India’s first prime minister, wanted a regulatory framework for his “mixed economy”, but instead, in the holy names of socialism, the bureaucrats created a thousand controls and killed our industrial revolution at birth. In my 30 years in business I did not meet a single bureaucrat who really understood my business, yet each had the power to ruin it. Our failures have been due less to ideology and more to poor management.[Daniel Drezner]