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Bureaucrats: the ill-starred Desdemonas

Whenever governments change, my heart doles out sympathies for the bureaucrats in droves. Some go down, some gain ascendancy, for the law of preferment operates by affection. The former Chief Secretary and the DGP are the first to be changed and new incumbents assume charge. It is a laughable paradox that the IAS, who are painfully cadre conscious and are reputed to be very sharp, digs ditches where they break their shins. For example, in the past there was only one post of the Chief Secretary and one that of the DGP (IG, if you like), and they invariably went to the senior most, “where every second stood heir to the first”. The CMs had hardly any choice but to respect seniority and make do with the available incumbents. In such an ideal situation the office of the CS and the DGP were strong institutions, for they enjoyed great freedom to function without political interference.
But, now in their anxiety to accommodate the stagnating seniors, the bureaucrats have managed to get a few more additional equivalent posts (interchangeable) to the post of the Chief Secretary and the DGP, so that the one-post channel did not choke their promotions. For example, the posts of chairmen in the Revenue Board, Board of Secondary Education, etc are equal in official status to the post of the CS. Hence, with the change of the government CS is usually replaced, as such postings go by and preferment and not by old gradation. All this was possible on account of the proliferation of posts in the civil and police administration.
Why should the bureaucrats and others be changed and shuffled like pack of cards is a great curiosity among the laymen. What urgency prompts every new CM to change the executives? There can be only one reason: new servants are more serviceable and are eager to please the master with an untiring zeal, aspiring to retain his favour: the old grow tardy and insolent. Besides, the old ones, perforce, retain some loyalty for their former master and seem to have a divided duty like Desdemona’s in Othello: half to her father, and half to her husband, with the result that her father abandons her and later her husband kills her. The poor bureaucrats, like the innocent Desdemona, face some such dilemma.

Years ago when I was interviewed for the lecturer’s post, the chairman asked me a tantalizing question: Tell me, what a teacher is like? I replied without hesitation: “Sir, a teacher is like a juggler, who manages many balls in the air at the same time! Handling boys is to attain the juggler’s feat.”I marvel at the survival rate of the IAS. Whether or not they are intelligent may be questioned, but one well-deserved thing can be granted to them that they are a hard working lot. Impressed by the survival instinct of the bureaucracy, when I asked an IAS friend, how they survive in the unavoidable, inimical company of the politicians, he said with alacrity: by learning to somersault on a tamarind leaf!!

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Zamiruddin .

Media/Journalist/Author

Madhya Pradesh ,  INDIA

Former professor of English Hon Sec The International Byron Society London President Guardians Guild wrote articles for The pioneer, The National Mail, M.P. Chronicle former Columnist for Hindustan Times Columnist Urdu daily Nadeem wrote Byron and the Drama of Ideas (Salzburg University Austria) Smile Please Chalte Phirte (M.P. Urdu Academy) In Stride satisfied with being a Social activist and member of the Bhopal Citizens Forum; edited Shakespeare's Dictionary and Compendium of His Complete works.

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