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Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Obsessive designations

Whether the designations in railways are obsessive or we are unusually obsessed by rank is a subjective matter but the fact remains that rank has a major role to play in the lives of senior railway officers. Else how does one explain railway wives being addressed even in formal functions as Mrs GM, Mrs DRM, Mrs CRB and so on and the gentleman carrying his rank on his sleeve, even during morning ablutions.

I always been under the impression that jobs, unlike human beings remain singular in nature, but my return to railways amazed me no end when I realized that each job or a designation also has a spouse attached. So while the gentleman sits on the official chair, the spouse occupies the spouse chair with pride and authority, that often exceeds that of the gentleman and gives others a simpler access route to the official.

My above impression is based on experience, for I never heard the wife of an army officer being addressed as Mrs Chief of Army Staff or the wife of an IAS officer as Mrs Chief Secretary or Mrs Cabinet Secretary or Mrs Tourism Secretary. Blasphemy it shall be, if ever a railway officer is placed on these pivotal positions for then the better half would demand creation of designations that never were.

And it is not untrue that being formally addressed as a Mrs CRB/GM/DRM confers authority that merely being addressed as a Mrs X fails to give. And therefore we regularly witness the shameful spectacle of senior railway wives blasting railway officers in full public view or placing undue demands on the system that she would have been unable to do as a mere Mrs X. Outside railways, I have witnessed the wives of senior officers being given the respect that they are due but without even a tinge of any sycophantic connotation, yet it is only in railways where in their eagerness to please the boss through the wife route, the wife of one rising star was even equated to Julius Caeser.

He came, He saw and He conquered and She came, She saw and She conquered.

Yes the eulogy was conducted in full public view to the accompaniment of atleast two pairs of beaming smiles. Hats off to  the winner of the sycophants trophy.

Perhaps the obsession with designations especially the general management ones, lies in the low esteem we have of ourselves. As an assistant officer we compare ourselves with our IAS & IPS counterparts and curse ourselves. As the difference in status widens, so does the levels of frustration. And therefore at the first available opportunity, when we occupy a general management chair, power goes to our head. Power to ridicule and demean, power to shout and abuse and the power to punish and obstruct, it is almost like the tandav of Shiva. With passage of time, the officer rises in rank and the tandav that is conducted in pairs also reaches its pinnacle. Ugly sight it is for all those who have even a bit of self respect left in them.

As one turns sixty, so do the tables. The man who never thought of himself as a human being and was always glorified by the seat he rested his backside on, is left high and dry. But by then it is too late to make amends, the lady however is luckier for she gets her true name back, though much to her discomfort.

Amusing it is!



  1. Sir,
    In army is Mrs GOC, Mrs CO, Mrs Army Army Commander and Mrs chief.

    the Sycophancy in army is horrendous and pt even the the railway ladies to shame...
    believe me !!

  2. I think that this phenomenon is not limited to Railways alone but is prevalent all across Indian beaurucratic setup. You have to see the behaviour of various IAS, IPS officer's wifes to believe it. But this fact is besides the point.This really is a disgraceful state of affairs. A person cannot assume authority just because her husband occupies a particular chair. Respect has to be earned. Hardly anyone seems to believe this, least of all the spouses of senior officers. If only they could see the folly of this thought process!

  3. Sir, wives's hounor is due but with grace not being prefixed with Mrs+designation, doing such it feels a silent fear to the subordinates. It is my own veiw, please.