The relationship between civil servants and political executive is the basic theme of my memoir Crusader or Conspirator? Coalgate and other Truths, and it delves into how this relationship has deteriorated from the pre-Independence days to now, former coal secretary P C Parakh tells Upasna Pandey
Two tell-all books, both by former insiders in the United Progressive Alliance government – former media advisor Sanjay Baru and former coal secretary P C Parakh -- has once again brought the role of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh under scrutiny.
In an interview to Rediff.com PC Parakh, whose memoir Crusader or Conspirator? Coalgate and other Truths was released on Monday, says his book is not about any particular individual or political leader. He also brushes aside allegations that the timing of the book’s release was motivated to benefit the BJP and embarrass the prime minister.
What are you trying to say in your memoir?
I am trying to convey that the political system in the country has become such that it is difficult to take fair decisions. Bureaucrats have a limited role and it is the political executive which has to be strong and fair. While it is a bureaucrat’s job to advise what is in the public interest, it is for the political executive to take the decisions.
There are allegations on the timing of the book which comes in the middle of the General Elections?
I have been working on this book for a couple of years. In 2007, when the Administrative Reforms Commission headed by M Veerappa Moily asked me to prepare a discussion paper on senior civil servants and the political executive, I got the idea to pen down my experiences on this. The relationship between civil servants and political executive is the basic theme of my memoir and it delves into how this relationship has deteriorated from the pre-Independence days to now. The quality of both civil servants and political executive members has deteriorated.
What is your take on the role of bureaucrats in the decision making process?
I believe that bureaucrats have a constitutional responsibility to advice in the interest of the public and many a times when he or she takes a stand, it may be hard to ignore. I have shared my experience on my proposal to open bidding for coal blocks in 2004, which was approved by the PM, but was reversed later. This is one of the many aspects the memoir talks about.
Your memoir is alleged to be sponsored by the BJP to embarrass the UPA government and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, in particular?
I am surprised about such allegations as my memoir also has critical references to the BJP and other political parties, and big corporate houses. I would like to reiterate that the aim of my book is not to talk about a particular individual or personality but bring about a public discourse on the relationship between bureaucrats and the political executive.
Where do you see yourself headed? Any plans for stepping into public life again?
I have already reached where I had to. I am not planning to go anywhere. I only wanted to share my experiences and begin a public discussion on this subject.
Image: Former coal secretary P C Parakh