Post Retirement Nests to Amakudari and Revolving Doors.

In India, up until the end of last century, there was a barrier to free wheeling social and economic intercourse between the government and the private sector. The barrier held at least publicly, though one can’t say what happened behind closed doors. May be the now scorned socialist mind set of those times demanded show of certain scruples and ethics, which in turn commanded a distance between influential vested interests and government machinery- again at least in public. In private though, cosy alliances between favour seekers cum spoils sharers and bureaucrats were routinely struck. The winds of liberalization and globalization have now brought  with them refreshing transparency. Cosy alliances are no longer publicly shied away from. Since United States is the new standard for everything including morality and governance, the distinction between business and government is slowly vanishing. In fact, the reality that business is government is becoming crystal clear. What was undercover is coming out in the open. This development is something one should cheer.

Many senior IAS officers on retirement join the very companies operating in sectors whose policy they made and administered, and whose workings they were supposed to monitor: ^^Among these are former revenue secretary P V Bhide who was allowed by DoPT to join five companies — NOCIL Ltd, Heidelberg Cement India Ltd, Tube Investment India Ltd, L&T Finance Ltd and GlaxoSmithKline Pharmaceuticals Ltd – soon after retirement. Another case is of former telecom secretary Pradip Baijal, who joined a company promoted by corporate lobbyist Niira Radia, immediately after retirement. IAS officer Ashok Mohan Chakraborty, who retired as chief secretary of West Bengal on April 30, 2010, wasted no time in applying to DoPT for waiving off the cooling off period. He was subsequently allowed by DoPT to join the Essar Group. Naresh Dayal, health secretary until September 30, 2009, too joined GlaxoSmithKline Consumer Health-care as a non-official director a few months after retirement^^. High ranking executives of the public sector enterprises were too not to be left behind: ^^The rule has, however, been flouted, among others by a former chairman and managing director of BHEL, who joined private sector rival Larsen & Toubro immediately after retirement, though with a designation that suggested that he was working in a different business vertical^^. While these precedents have a longer history, the armed forces officer took a little longer to come to the party. That is because Defence is regarded as holy cow, and sensitivities over nation’s integrity and impartiality of armed forces acted as a speed breaker. But fortunately such considerations no longer now come in the way of openness and transparency.

Ajmer Singh for Indian Express did a compilation, Soldiers in Business, on 24 October 2012: ^^An investigation by The Sunday Express has found that dozens of retired officers from the Army, Navy and Air Force, as well as some bureaucrats who have worked in the Defence Ministry, have been employed by Indian and foreign companies dealing in arms, military equipment, aerospace and ship-building, among others^^.
The new found openness should soon help India to develop a formidable Military-Industrial complex just like USA, albeit not on super power scale. Indian private sector had been kept out of lucrative defence R & D and production, though ministry of defence routinely transacts business with foreign private contractors. The linkages forged between retired armed forces officers and MOD bureaucrats on one hand and private sector in India on the other should level the playing field in favour of India’s private sector.

Japanese formalised such cosy networks between civil and defence personnel with private industry under the rubric of Amakudari. US has not progressed that far to formalise the arrangement, but practically has the same or better arrangement through Revolving Doors policy, which allows free and continuous rotation between government and private sector personnel. So much so that it is almost impossible to distinguish between the two. India, it is to be hoped, would be moving towards those ideals steadily if somewhat slowly. Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington [CREW] and Brave New Foundation have unnecessarily picked upon the revolving door between Pentagon and Defence Contractors; when there are many such revolving doors in USA between Treasury, Federal Reserves, Health,…..  and Wall Street, Private Universities, Pharma,…. and so on.
President Eisenhower had warned on the build up of such Military Industrial Complex, which would ultimately consume US society. Wars are no longer fought for national security or protecting US citizens, but wars make good business for US corporations. That is what happens when Business becomes Government. Drones are the new frontier in war making. Drones have made waging war a plaything. Those who kill are far removed from it, just like in a video game. Those who are killed know not why or when. Brave New Foundation’s new video, Living Under Drones, captures this trauma: ^^Since 2004, up to 884 innocent civilians, including at least 176 children, have died from US drone strikes in the North Waziristan region of Pakistan. A new report from the Stanford and New York University law schools finds drone use has caused widespread post-tramatic stress disorder and an overall breakdown of functional society in North Waziristan. In addition, the report finds the use of a “double tap” procedure, in which a drone strikes once and strikes again not long after, has led to deaths of rescuers and medical professionals. Many interviewees told the researchers they didn’t know what America was before drones. Now what they know of America is drones, death and terror^^.
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