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?