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Monday, May 31, 2010

Mediocrity Rules

Unfortunate but true. Bide your time doing nothing and if one also has the age on his side, the sarkari tantra is all yours to rule. The highly complicated art of not making decisions and the simpler mechanism of maintaining a disconnect from the ground reality is all that has to be mastered for an elevation to the top slot(s).

And so one has a battalion of men, over twenty million of them in the country biding their time and at the same time maintaining the nation in a sort of suspended animation. Led by the officers from the All India, Allied, Central and Other services the men quickly learn the art of survival and extracting the maximum juice from the system for personal gains - petty and not so petty.

If the aim in life is to occupy a slot, after the slot is occupied, the aim shifts to maintaining the occupation and later before the tenure ends, the aim shifts to finding another slot, occupying which shall continue taking care of the petty and not so petty needs of the person. And this precisely is what babudom is all about - the business of slots.

The babu's march forward in carefully crafted steps and the nation stays where it is, even at times sliding backwards.

It stinks!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

The learned man on the street!

Ask the man on the street, what ails the country, and he would know. Having been wedded to the tourism sector for a long time, almost everyone, I knew or met had a word of advice for me. How tourism can be made to prosper in the beautiful state of Madhya Pradesh, or in "Incredible India", everyone knew the answers. And now on the hot seat of DRM/Delhi, I am again swamped with intelligent people, people who know what is wrong and how to set it right, except that they do not have even the foggiest idea of what putting your backside on the hot seat entails.

The tragedy is that the credibility of the sarkari tantra in our motherland is abysmally low. And therefore the entire populace, who also have contributed to the chaos in no small measure, chose to bash the tantra at the slightest provocation.

What however really hurts is the feigned ignorance, not of the man on the street, but of the men who matter, with exceptions of course. It is really sad that we often confuse symptom with the disease, and the attempts therefore of trying to cure the symptom, not the disease are bound to fail resulting in repeated cycles of inventing the wheel ad infinitum.

There is no doubt that the sarkari tantra, across the country is a classic example of how tantra's should not be. Procedure orientation, knee jerk responses to symptoms, rampant corruption and sycophancy are its hallmarks. But for a change it was a nice feeling to witness the Government support to the chief executive of Air India in recent moments of crisis and when the gentleman who is trying to do his best needed the support. But such occasions are rare. Rather than supporting the chief executives, they are often made a scapegoat for pleasing the man on the street, who is amused no doubt, but rarely pleased.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Expecting Perfection from an Imperfect system

Expecting perfection from an imperfect system. It is akin to aspiring to win a car rally while at the wheels of a dilapidated old "FIAT". Loosing yet complaining that there is no time to change or overhaul the car.

How true for the sarkari systems of Bharatvarsh. Truer still for the "great" Indian Railways. We expect perfection from an imperfect system. It appears to be a vicious circle. We dont want to stop just to set things right and because we dont stop, things go further downhill. Why is it so that a set of bright individuals who can change the world are throttled by the system into submission into mediocrity. And why is it that the complainants, who ofcourse are many, dont ever realize that it is the poor system, the extremely inefficient machinery that is to be faulted, not the individuals per se. And the bright youngsters keep on taking the blame, without fighting back, without shouting out hard that the rotten way of "non-deliverance" is to be blamed.

The "complained against" subsequently rise to become the complainants and the story gets repeated ad-infinitum.

What is the answer. We have to realize and accept that a bunch of individuals can never bring about massive changes, quantitative or qualitative. It is just one individual who can change an organization, a state or a nation, by ofcourse providing leadership. We all have to wait for that individual who will emerge out of rank chaos and mediocrity to take us forward. People like Gujral or Ravindra maybe ........

Friday, May 21, 2010

Hot seat-cold media

My seat proved to be too hot on the 15th of May 2010, when 2 people died and 8 got injured in the commotion at the New Delhi Railway station. The incident emerged as the national story for the day and the day after. The headlines were sensational as the entire blame for the incident was passed on by the media on the railways, even though the truth was otherwise. The incident, as was evident from the litter at the site and also the version of the bystanders at the platform, was triggered by a commotion on the staircase, possibly due to someone or his luggage falling over. But it caused a commotion in the large crowd and a bit of a stampede resulting in the deaths and injuries. The change of platform issue was immaterial as the "island" was the same and any sane person would appreciate the difference between switching trains on the same island and on different islands. But sanity on such occasions is a rare commodity. A lesson for me.

I somehow, against the counsel of my friends and well wishers always had a very good image of the media in general, possibly due to the outstanding support I got from a large section of them during my tense moments in crucial postings. But this experience was different. Somehow it appeared that the mandate of the media was to sensationalize triviality, and not focus on the truth. The mandate was also to bash the sarkari tantra, that is clumsy of course, but not capable enough to be faulted for everything under the sun. And perhaps the triviality and the bare truth would not be appealing to the common man who bored by his ordinary life, looks for sensationalism in the papers and the TV and also films.The common man was being served what he wanted to see, not the truth or a fair analysis and that is what hurts.

A real learning experience for me, yet I would not like to live it again.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

The real India is different

How wrong we generally are! Sitting in 5 star hotels, over a glass of scotch, the glitterati discuss the problems of the country and offer solutions, solutions that are far removed from reality. The world we live in, the world inhabited by the upper class and the upper middle class is far removed from the reality of the real India, the India that lives in the small towns and the villages. The India that is devoid of electricity, drinking water, sewer lines and seethes with rampant poverty and corruption is the true India. One rocket, an atom bomb, cars. air conditioners, refrigerators and five star hotels are not representative of the true India.

It is indeed sad that the one percent of the population who do not even know the country sit in judgement over the direction the country should take and take decisions on behalf of the rest of the ninety nine percent.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Leadership blues!

I stand in awe of the British. Could we Indians ever have conceived Vijay Chowk an expanse of over 1000 ft, or the north and south blocks or even the GT road or the bulwark of the Indian Railways. The answer is a big No. Look at all cities built by the Indian Maharajahs or the Nawabs and compare them with cities built by the British. Congested lanes, houses packed like sardines, inadequate civic infrastructure and a mess is what generally symbolizes our own creation.

I shudder to think what would have been the state of affairs had the British not entered India. Yes, it is a fact that they also drained our country of precious resources and wealth, but left to us we would also have plundered and wasted the same, of that I am sure.

A glance at the everyday's newspaper tells everything. There are negative reports encompassing every single sphere of our activities. There are serious shortcomings in every single sector of our nation, especially those where the sarkari tantra is in the leading situation.

If everything is bad, does'nt the answer lie elsewhere. Perhaps it lies in our inability to govern ourselves well. This is the disease and everything else is a symptom. But unfortunately, like a wayside quack, we keep ourselves forever busy trying to treat the symptom, without having even the foggiest idea of the root cause.

I am convinced that when we got independence, we were like a five year old who has been let free by the parents. The child would definitely run amok and ruin his or her life. Same has been our story as a nation. An immature and uneducated society was permitted to govern itself, and look where we are.

Is there no salvation? Is there no hope? The answer is a big NO. There is hope provided we are able to throw up the right kind of leadership that is able to lead the five year old (that we still are) through the ups and downs of life to mature into a human being that one can be proud of.

Will the nation ever get such a leadership? Only time will tell.