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Tuesday, May 14, 2013

professional impropriety is the bane

That corruption is not confined to merely currency exchanging hands for dubious reasons is a fact that is generally not appreciated by the clients and constituents of the great sarkari tantra of this nation. Is it therefore not sad that professional dishonesty invariably takes a backseat whenever issues relating to integrity are flagged? While it is true that insofar as the “aam aadmi” of this nation is concerned, demand for or expectance of illegal gratification in lieu of doing what should rightfully be done is the correct definition of corruption, it is also true that professional dishonesty by almost the entire fleet is the inherent reason behind our country continuing perpetually in the league of developing nations.

A Mahesh Kumar is thrust into the dungeons jolting the organization as well as the nation out of the slumber it has gotten into. Yet the celebration that many of the honest constituents of the railways are indulging into would prove to be short lived if even this golden opportunity is wasted and the stable not cleared of the accumulated muck of decades. Mahesh Kumar has been caught and perhaps deserves a life behind bars, but this organization has an excess of the Mahesh Kumar variety and perhaps many times more who are going through the transformation process only to later emerge as great thieves.

In my over three decades of active service, with the exception of only a handful, most of the officers that I had an occasion to interact with had absolutely no sense of propriety on professional issues. They were like a tumbler that may roll in any direction. Rules, processes, guidelines and yardsticks had absolutely no rationale whatsoever for this group that was always prepared to bend in whatever direction the powers that mattered desired. And as a result even the written word had a tendency to lose its sanctity within the confines of the 5’6” gauge.  

I am reminded of the penchant of many of the illustrious chief executives who encouraged abandonment of the rules and processes in the interest of shortsightedness yet like a chameleon switched sides whenever something went wrong and responsibility needed to be fixed. Our attitude towards our most prized asset, land appropriately fits the bill. While the top guy places ten minute punctuality issues ahead of land on a regular basis, yet he would leave no effort in fixing lowly subordinates in both cases, of his boss expressing annoyance on land grabbing or land reclamation. The recent exposures that reveal a penchant to be "his masters voice" rather than a custodian of rules and processes even in the matter of secretary level appointments by the apex levels of the railway board are merely a peek into what most of us have been silent witness to for many years now.

The route to financial corruption is via professional dishonesty and professional dishonesty would definitely lead one to the swamps of financial impropriety. This hard reality needs acceptance, the earlier the better, even otherwise the great Indian railways would stagger on.


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