By not directly targeting Manmohan Singh or P.Chidambaram in two judgments related to the 2G scandal, the Supreme Court has saved the country from a constitutional crisis. But unspoken, it has sent a message to the UPA-2 government to mend its ways, which it won't. With Manmohan Singh likely to remain at the helm alongwith a corrupt gaggle of cabinet ministers, UPA-2 will die a small death everyday till the 2014 elections, by when it will be unrevivable for a third term.

Government megaphones like Kapil Sibal say that the Supreme Court order junking the 2G deal does not insinuate wrong-doing by UPA-2 as a whole, with the scandal beginning and ending with the disgraced former telecom minister, A.Raja. How convenient and lawyerly of Sibal to twist facts. In its order related to the absent sanction for prosecution of Raja whilst being a minister, the Supreme Court blamed the prime minister's office while giving the benefit of doubt to Manmohan Singh. Taking the judgment at face value, what manner of PM is Manmohan Singh that he is mislead by his own officers? Is he fit to head the government?

Now take the second judgment scrapping one-twenty-two telecom licenses. Kapil Sibal & Co. are taking the line that by not asking the CBI on Subramaniam Swamy's petition to investigate Chidambaram, the home minister has been pronounced clean. He may well be so. But the Supreme Court does not say that. On the other hand, the court has directed the 2G special court to deliver its verdict within two weeks on Chidambaram's innocence or otherwise. The Supreme Court couldn't do more without taking on the trial itself, which would be improper. But to construe that the home minister has been given a clean bill of health, that separately and together, Manmohan has got the Supreme Court's mandate to bring the country to ruin, and that overall, the UPA-1 and UPA-2 governments are bywords for morality and incorruptibility is a bit rich.

And yet, nothing will change. Since there is no threat of the government falling, Manmohan Singh will continue to remain prime minister. An early indication of that came with his rather odd statement today that the government has progressed "substantially forward" on curbing corruption. Without the adverse Supreme Court rulings, and with any chance of the Congress doing well in Uttar Pradesh, Rahul Gandhi may have been strongly positioned to succeed Manmohan Singh. No longer.

But stable as UPA-2 seems on the outside, the rot has set within. The IAS that is the proverbial rat that first deserts a sinking ship is sending out clear signals of hopelessness about the government. Up to early 2011, coinciding with the first Anna Hazare stir, senior officers in the Central government were cocky. They were so loyal that they refused to see any merit in the anti-corruption agitation which had touch a chord with common Indians. They were insensitive, arrogant, and felt invincible.

Now, without much prompting, they declare the government is tottering. The smarter IAS and IPS officers are pulling out, seeking to return to their state cadres to escape the taint of further association with the UPA government. This malady is affecting most ministries and departments but particularly sensitive ones such as home, IT, and so forth. Central postings no longer entice those in the states.

UPA-2 is threatened at another level too by a mutinous bureaucracy. There is massive leaking of sensitive information at higher levels of the government. It may be joked that Subramaniam Swamy gets documents even before they are signed and dispatched, but seriously, leaking is killing the government. For example, the defence ministry's order to the Indian Army's adjutant general branch to make General V.K.Singh a year older than he is was leaked before it reached its intended destination. The PMO note putting a cloud over Chidambaram in the 2G scandal also came out as a result of a privileged leak to an RTI activist through cutouts.

The consequence of all this internal churning is that work in government has ground to a halt. No officer wants to risk taking a decision. It is policy paralysis at its worst. There can be no easy reversal of this, not unless there is complete overhaul of the government leadership starting with the prime minister, and that won't happen. Kapil Sibal and assorted government and Congress spokespersons can spin all they want. But the harsh truth is that UPA-2 is on its way down, and nothing can save it.