During my interview for selection in the administrative (now called civil) services examination, I was asked a simple question, “Why do you want to join I.A.S. (as I had given it as the first choice)?” And I had given a simple answer, “Because there were more pay, perks and privileges in it.” The board had appeared to be mighty pleased as one of the members had smilingly added, “And greater value in the marriage market too.” On his light-hearted repartee I had got encouragement and promptly countered, “Sir, but it does not apply in my case as I am already engaged.” On conclusion of the interview while I was leaving the room I had overheard a member saying on my back, “Smart young man.” This remark and subsequent high score in my interview had reaffirmed my faith that at least in higher administrative services straightforwardness and honesty pay.
However, such notions were only an indication of my ignorance and immaturity. The enlightenment had started dawning on me after I joined I. P. S. and started growing in the administrative field. Every day opened a new vista of fresh knowledge. It was like a frog being catapulted from the depth of a dark well into the open sky.
Success as administrative (or police) officer has only occasionally to do with the officer’s integrity while more often an insistence on integrity may prove to be an impediment to it. Of all the qualities which make an administrator succeed, I found hypocrisy in conversation, behavior and conduct to be most essential. I also learnt from experience that it is not easy to be a hypocrite. Hypocrisy presupposes existence of a fairly good degree of intelligence: A fool cannot be a hypocrite and a hypocrite cannot be a fool. Therefore, the intelligent human being is the only species that indulges incessantly in hypocrisy and, at the same time, is often cheated by shrewder hypocrites. No tiger, hawk or lizard would ever profess that killing other animals is a sin. Human beings, on the other hand, proudly profess such beliefs yet kill others without any burden on conscience. At the same time they often put their trust in non-existent altruism, saintliness and Godhood of cunning self-seekers- often found in the garb of Gurus, Faquirs, and Soul-Saviors.
The bureaucrats, having been selected through open competition, are - saving the honorable exceptions - more intelligent, and therefore, naturally indulge in more hypocrisy than the common man. And the politicians who become Netas only after proving their superior intelligence in leading the herd, take the pride of the place among the most dexterous hypocrites.
Now, as the dishonesty in public life is being redefined, need for hypocritical pretensions is on the path of steep decline. Earlier, irregular gain of any kind and in any manner by government servants (including Ministers and M. L. As/ M. Ps) was considered dishonest, now making money in parliamentary voting (Sibu Soren case), receiving crores of rupees from common man ‘because of their love and affection’ (Mayavati case), etc. are treated as legal income. The norms of dishonesty are being liberalized and dishonesty can be practiced without pinching one’s conscience unnecessarily. Our rulers are now taking the lead in establishing the new norms and their ‘most obedient servants’ - the bureaucrats - are gleefully following their footsteps. This is obviating the need for being circumspect in earning illegal money and flaunting the wealth thus earned.
If the trend goes unchecked, animal kingdom’s culture of big fish eating the small fish will soon be adopted by the powerful without any hypocritical pretensions and without any wrinkle on their conscience.
Are we returning to the state of Nature and its merciless laws?
Yes, there are some honest and well meaning bureaucrats, but there number is dwindling.
Out of those who were selected with me in 1963, nearly 30 percent remained honest till
retirement, This percentage is on the decline. Moreover the scale and brazenness of
dishonesty is on the rise.
This is a beautifully written pessimistic piece about a bureaucrat. But following is a bureaucrat whom you might know. His type is rare but not totally non-existent.
AN EPITAPH FOR APPU
Here lies one
Whom we killed first
And canonized after.
He took it upon himself
To accomplish the impossible task
Of righting all wrongs, avenging all evils,
Of reducing the distance
Between what is and what ought to be
And unable to adjust to its ways
In righteous indignation
Abjured the world itself.
He took his bearings in life
With a sextant set by a distant star
Always looming above narrow horizons,
But the submerged rocky outcrops of the shore
Kept him away from the harbor.
Steering clear of some inevitable collisions
Ultimately he foundered.
He was unlike us, the successful lot,
Successfully navigating following no rules
Excepting those for momentary survival
Diving or swimming along the prevailing tides
And sailing with the current winds
Swerving our course to our convenience
Without caring where we ultimately reached –
The hell or the port of call.
To have a captain like him is sheer madness
It’s much better to drift
Than to row against the tide
Revolting to the galley slaves.
We would rather join the pirates
To plunder the high seas
With a banner unfurled on our foremast
Carrying his clean image
To convince the credulous shippers
We are honest merchantmen.
We would kill him to canonize
Rather than have him amongst us.
May his soul rest in peace
Leaving us to peacefully plunder.
Hang him on your drawing room wall
As a good piece of decoration:
If his ghost frowns from there
Do not care
For we are many, he is alone.
Like one of those clumsy dinosaurs
He is destined to die
It’s we who shall prosper and multiply
And inherit this pigmy world.
To ensure he doesn’t resurrect
By the infallible rule of majority
We shall elbow him out.
To be a hypocrite one does not need courage ... that is the plus point ... look at the shenanigans of Arvind Kejriwal ... and the bonus is that people think that you are a good man ...