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Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Anger

A fit of anger is always followed by a bout of regret. Anger definitely blinds. It has blinded me on so many occasions. And then it does not matter whether the person at the receiving end is my beloved wife or my best subordinate. The trigger is never the same. It changes from time to time, from venue to venue and from occasion to occasion. Constant however has been the inconsequential nature of the trigger, when viewed in hindsight. Another constant has been the deep sense of remorse after the event, when one invariably tend to make amends, knowing fully well that the situation or the relation shall never be the same again. The damage remains and also the remorse. Who gains, one wonders, till the bout of anger resurfaces again.

No stake for change makers

Strange are the ways of the governmental systems in our country. Perhaps the situation is the same in all developing countries that are witness to the tremendous power being wielded by the politicians and bureaucrats alike. Developed countries are much different. There the politicians and the bureaucrats do not strut around like the lords of the universe. The Ministers, other political functionaries and bureaucrats in the developed societies are aware of the fact that they are there to serve the people, not their petty vested interests. They appreciate that they are the servants of the masses, not their masters. They realize that the goods and the services that are controlled by the sarkari domain are not meant for them alone, but to be shared by the entire society at large. That their role is to serve the society and facilitate the masses is a thought that is as distant to them as Mars.

The saddest thing however is that these classes of people, who are many rungs above the common man, generally remain unaffected by the malaise in the society. They are the ones who are meant to remove the malaise and stem the rot. They are the people who have the power to change things in the country. They are the only ones who through the power of their pen can bring about improvements, reduce corruption, improve the economic health of the society, make things move and make the life of the common man comfortable. But unfortunately as they do not get affected by the malaise or the rot, they have no stake whatsoever in the change. And that is precisely the reason why change for the better if any is happening at a pace that is barely visible.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

The Great Leveler

Death is a great leveler and its ceremonies, a tremendous humbling experience.

The wealthiest and the mightiest, the poorest and the weakest, all travel the same path to oblivion. Witnessing this ultimate moment of truth, the unending human quest for power, position and wealth pales into insignificance and what acquires significance is the need to be a good human being and indulging, not in self indulgence, but in the welfare of the humanity as a whole.

Even, the greatest of the great, Emperor Ashok did not last forever and none of us ever shall. Yet, acquiring an iota of power or wealth in comparison, that does not in any way take us on a different path, not the path to oblivion, showers a self professed greatness in many of us. And that leads us to the most fundamental question of all times. Why is it so difficult to be just a simple human being and live like one?

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Devotion of the Services

I am not talking about individuals.

I am surprised at the amount of respect many officials generally have for the top guy and often wonder whether the respect bordering on overt devotion is borne out of adoration or fear. And this respect generally turns into utter disregard immediately after the top guy crosses the threshold of retirement and the attention diverts to the next bloke in the line.

I am witness to senior retired officials left to fend for themselves at social gatherings, the same official who commanded battalions of men till he was in the chair. Yes there are exceptions too. There are worthy retired seniors who command respect even post retirement, but these exceptions are few and can be counted on fingertips.

I often witness crazy levels of flattery and adoration and wonder whether this is what the so called all india, central and engineering services are all about. Flattery and adoration for petty personal gains obtained at the cost of one's own self respect 24/7.

And this brings us to the bizarre question of whether the power and position that the chair bestows is meant to be used for the betterment of the organization or self. Whether the power is meant to create a feeling of fear amongst subordinates or it is to be used for the general good is also a question the answer of which would generally not be palatable.

Yes, things have to change if the nation has to progress.

Monday, February 14, 2011

A steamy affair

The 12th February conference on steam locomotives turned out to be a steamy affair. The AV presentation on the resurrection touched the hearts of all those who have a heart for these black beauties. How a ugly crow turns into a swan is what the lovers of steam witnessed during those gripping 45 minutes. The power point presentation by Laurie Marshall that followed the AV proved to be the icing on the cake.

The presence of the member mechanical railway board, the additional secretary tourism, govt of India, the representative of UNESCO and renowned steam buffs from the UK, underlined the importance of the event as well as the steam locomotives that have left a mark on world's history by heralding in the industrial revolution in the late 18th century.

Laurie Marshall's book on BG steam locomotives, that was released during the conference was a major highlight of the event. Sayinathan's book of 100 poems on steam locomotives that was also released during the event showed to everyone present the tremendous attraction that a steam locomotive can command. And the latest issue of the souvenir of the society underlined the continued commitment displayed by the mandarins of the society.

The conference ended with a short run of a steam train hauled by the legendary WP 7200. The run was short, but the expectations it fuelled were great. This was an event fuelled by the passion of a few committed individuals led by Mr Sethi, the "full of life" president of the steam railway society.

But let not anyone be in doubt that attempts to thwart such noble efforts by detractors would also continue. One can only hope that after the great destruction that steam locomotives witnessed in India in the eighties and the nineties, success in the form of a limited number of steam trains for tourist services would someday see the light of the day. God Willing!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Encapsulated in rank

Right from the time a youngster is inducted in what they call services, he or she permanently remains encapsulated in rank, almost always till death. And therefore we find even retired officials finding it convenient to remain under the garb of the post they earlier held, with a mild “retd” attached to it, even though it totally suppresses their personality and also individuality. The serving though would even like to forget their names and appreciate remaining encapsulated in rank, for that gives power, perks and an unbridled opportunity to fleece the system.

We have to learn to appreciate that behind the fa├žade of every rank there is a human being who is any day more important than any rank or title and therefore deserves to be treated with concern and humility.

I often wonder why bureaucrats aspire for a position? Is it to set right the organization or the nation or is it for petty personal gains? Almost all the top honchos that one bumps into in the bureaucratic system are there and would like to perpetually remain there for the power that makes them feel worthy and important even though they may be not, and for the petty personal advantages like free housing and equally free servants and other legal and illegal facilities that in their opinion are to be fleeced from the system. The beacon light on the cars of top bureaucrats is symptomatic of the deep rooted malaise, the desire to appear important in the eyes of others.

And this brings us to the basic question. What would a bureaucrat like his legacy to be? Would he like to be known as the one who manipulated all his life to rest his backside on the top chair for his personal glorification or one who by his contribution to the organization and the nation glorified the very chair he sat upon. It is indeed the misfortune of the nation that the second variety is generally found missing.