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Sunday, June 27, 2010

Of Think Tanks......

Why the country is fond of "expert committees" and "think tanks" is what I am unable to comprehend. That the fundamental issues are blatantly visible to one and all and they just require a common sense approach for their solution is also widely appreciated. Yes, our zeal to assign even mundane matters to expert committees and think tanks is deplorable, yet it serves a purpose. The purpose is to delay taking any decision and continue with the status quo.

All the various national committees constituted by all and sundry are actually forums for networking and continuously dwelling on mundane issues. They also serve ideally for keeping issues on the back-burner while its members can wine and dine in five star surroundings in the garb of finding solutions. The farcical nature of such committees forced me to resign from one of them recently, in disgust of course.

This non appreciation of highly visible issues has to end. All of us from the sarkari sector, especially those in charge of affairs within their domain have to step forward and handle issues head on, in complete disregard of the price that they may have to pay even for doing developmental works in right earnest. After all we are paid to do a job, a specific job that the nation seeks of us and that job can never be to deal in the mundane stuff.

How I wish that the Prime Minister places a complete ban on creating committees of any kind in the sarkari sector. Let the sarkari mulazims handle issues based on their understanding of the same without seeking advice, support and guidance of all and sundry even for mundane issues.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Of decibels and environment

That output is not a function of decibels or a tense environment is still the belief of some senior railway officers, is a cause of satisfaction. The fact that absolutely honest and good human beings can still rise to the top in the railways, is a silver lining in the otherwise bleak environment that the country has to offer. That a senior officer can remain calm while handling tense and contentious issues is what gives hope in an otherwise hopeless scenario.

Yes, all is not lost yet. Goodness is still revered and good human beings are still liked by the masses in general. A bad human being may attract a lot of sycophants while he is in the seat of power, but these sycophants shall vanish the day the seat is gone. A good human being shall always have support of people, though it is a different matter that such a person is hardly bothered whether he has anyone around him or not.

Presently working with a genuine and a good human being, I consider myself to be fortunate.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Great Railways

Despite all its shortcomings, railways can still boast of a an extremely committed and hardworking staff and also many officers who can be classified in the "super fine" category. Even in my division there are many officers whose capability, commitment, integrity and ability to work hard is something that makes me proud. The railway staff is also generally far superior to their counterparts in other central and state govt departments. The commitment and hard working ability of railwaymen in general is unmatched.

With still a long way to go, the potential for improvements in the railways is massive, but it can still easily be achieved if the brilliant set of its officers (almost all are with exceptions) is trusted, empowered and let free. This is the path that all great organizations and nations have followed in their quest for achieving greatness.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Dancing Symptoms

Dancing to symptoms. A malaise common to almost all bureaucrats, indian of course. Unfortunately the railway bureaucrats are more smitten by the dancing symptoms disease than their colleagues in other parts of the sarkari tantra.

Easy it is, to react to symptoms and therefore the dance emerges as a natural corollary. Difficult it is to identify the disease behind the symptom and almost impossible it is to put in place the treatment required to eliminate the disease, and the bureaucrats are known to take the easy path.

And so the disease remains intact and the symptoms keep on resurfacing one after the other, with variations ofcourse as the diseases that are many in number and still growing are never treated and therefore likely to manifest in many different ways.

And so today the dance may be inspired by symptom A, tomorrow it may be because of symptom B and so on and so forth. The bureaucrats are busy dancing to symptoms and their superiors expect that this dance shall rid the organization of the disease. Well they remain busy of course.

Foolish appears to be a mild word for this bureaucratic behavior. The situation is ridiculous to the extent of being hilarious!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

An ode to Madhya Pradesh

We saw "Rajneeti" yesterday. The reason being its locale, Bhopal and its surroundings and throughout the movie we were busy identifying ourselves with the various places where the movie was shot. The movie made both me and my wife nostalgic, even though it has been only three months since we left the state on a transfer to the heartless city of Delhi.

Madhya Pradesh, the heart of incredible India shall forever live in my and my wife's heart. It is the state that gave us a lot of peace, self satisfaction and most importantly "self actualization".

A wonderful state with a wonderful Chief Minister. Till I interacted with the gentleman, I could never have imagined that they still make Chief Ministers like him, a persona par excellence that is an ideal blend of integrity, simplicity, hard work and commitment. May he rise further, for the sake of the nation.

There is something about the state that gets on you. It is difficult to exactly pinpoint whether it is the climate, the simple populace, the beautiful landscape, beautiful tourist spots or the serenity about the place, the fact remains that one is smitten by the MP bug.

Bhopal the capital takes the cake. I often wonder why, it has not yet emerged as the best place for leisure tourism in the country, but am confident that in due course of time it shall. While en-route to Bhopal recently, my wife exclaimed that she is feeling as if she is visiting her "maika". Despite hailing from Uttarakhand, and having never been associated with the state except for the recent deputation, I also had a feeling of home coming.

Perhaps it has something to do with our past lives, when both of us had a lot of involvement with the state and its capital city Bhopal, yet left it with an unfinished agenda.

Advice not Support

I wonder why people are hell bent on giving advices? Perhaps it is the easiest thing to do, besides conferring on the advisor a mistaken sense of superiority.

And that is why the bureaucratic world to which I belong, is smitten by the advise bug. Unsolicited advice, normally bordering on the "I told you so" syndrome is generally freely available, especially from the quarters from which one tends to expect support, least of all advice.

Giving support is generally difficult, for one has to stick his neck out while dispensing it. And neck is the most precious thing for bureaucrats like me. And so our subordinates who come to us looking for support are generally turned away with an advice, that generally tends to convey that the subordinate has not been doing his job well. The subordinate who with passage of time becomes the superior continues the tradition forward.

We bureaucrats, especially those who belong to services have to start respecting the clan to which they belong, not just themselves. After all it is only the D.O.B that differentiates us and just being born a couple of years earlier should not give one any credit.

Railways especially is the flag-bearer of this tradition of "giving advices". The higher the person is in the hierarchy, the more smitten he is by the "advice bug". In an earlier blog I had written about the reign of the mediocrity. Perhaps therein lies the answer. Answer Yes, Solution No.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Why America is Great?

The Clinton episode shook America, but subsequently the candid confession of the President once again proved the greatness of America as a nation. How many of us, politicians or otherwise would candidly accept their guilt, that too in front of everyone? Our sincere attempts to cover up our shortcomings, ultimately boomerang making the situation messier.

America is also great because of the dignity of labor. Men there are generally not assessed or ranked in the social circles because of their job profile. The dignity provided to each and every single member of the society is also a reason why America is great.

"Satyamev Jayate" is our slogan, but we rarely believe in it and hardly ever practice it. The indian society survives on falsehood. But on the other hand, the American society lays tremendous premium on truthfulness in all matters, official and personal.

A smile on every face is what one finds while walking in America. On the other hand, walking on streets in Indian cities one would come across people with a frown on their generally morose faces as if they are handling onerous responsibilities of the nation. Official meetings are also drab and dull with each trying to impress the other with his work or a false notion of responsibilities that generally do not exist.

Here we are busy and remaining busy, whether there is any output or not, is considered creditable. There they are delivering, remaining busy is just not important.

And most importantly, we shall forever continue to have potential because we are preserving it carefully. On the other hand America is fiercely consuming its potential. Yet we seek credit for having potential. How immature!