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Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Building castles on foundations of mud!

I find it strange, unacceptable and often hilarious whenever I witness bureaucrats buckling under pressure, more often than not for reasons that are not above board.  What right someone in authority has, to pressurize sub-ordinates to do what is not right for the organization or the nation, and continuing on a similar vein, what right the dam subordinate has for doing what he ends up doing while toeing the line of the unethical superior.

The previous year and a half made me and many of my elk witness acts that no sane organization should ever have to witness, acts of gross impropriety committed by none other than those supposed to lead by example. And the blatant manner in which these acts were and are still committed, with vehement vengeance at their core are pointers to a saga that is much more sordid than what appears on the surface. Perhaps times have changed and so have the methods. Obviously the acceptability of unethical practices has gained ground and being ethical is out of fashion in our society. 

And corruption is indeed the biggest malaise staring at the nation, yet unfortunately not regarded as such and that indeed is the sad story of governance. The tentacles of corruption are so widely spread that almost every single interaction of the ordinary citizen with the sarkari tantra is laced with graft, cutting across political, sectoral and state boundaries. How the hell will we really move forward in such a scenario should be the biggest worry of all those who matter in the matter of governance in this nation, but do they one wonders? 

What is even worse is the fact that grossly improper conduct has accompanied the penchant for putting the hands in the till. In the good old days, those in the sarkari sector who had a tilt towards milching the organization they worked for, generally maintained a fa├žade of an impeccable conduct for perhaps deep inside their hearts they actually faulted their indulgence in unethical practices. But not anymore, with putting the hand in the till being considered a birth-right nowadays. And therefore the sordid spectacle of loot coupled with the lowliest form of conduct almost bordering on the inhuman that we all have been sad and silent witnesses to.

Yet we look the other way till our own turn comes and only then we cry out load against injustice, a scenario played often in the social environment we inhabit.

Good governance is the magic word of the present times. But should it not begin with emphasis on and also strict adherence to ethical and moral value systems. Shouldn’t’ eradication of corruption and propagating the need for maintaining an impeccable conduct amongst all those in the seva of the sarkar be the first major step in the direction of providing good governance? Great things will indeed happen, but only after the basics have been taken care of and inculcating the same is not really difficult. It is my belief borne out of experience that each and every one of us longs for Ram-Raj provided it is for real and not merely in name. 

Personally, after having gone through the grind lasting almost three decades and a half, I am neither in favor of nor believe that castles can ever be built on muddy foundations.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Ends do not justify the means!

Could not but appreciate from the heart the effort of a few individuals to honor those whose contribution to good governance in the country has been tremendous and who otherwise would have remained confined to the shadows. Well done Gfiles for doing what the system should otherwise have been doing to motivate their own men, yet it is rarely done.

Almost all who spoke at the function made a forceful mention of the need for ethics in public service. Some even gave real life examples of the stand that they took for doing what is right even in the face of powerful forces that willed otherwise and often in the process suffered ignominy. Yet for once I felt proud of belonging to the same league of government servants as these brave men and women who were decorated for making a difference in a system that generally does not lay a premium on doing and being good.

And that is why we are where we are – almost at the bottom of the list of nations in almost all spheres of societal growth and human upliftment. Yet it fails to surprise me for what better does one expect in a system that even after over sixty seven years of evolution remains woefully short of adherence to ethical values and proper conduct.

It often surprises me that in almost three and a half decades of service, I am yet to attend an official meeting (not convened by me) where adherence to ethical values and the welfare of men is discussed. The meetings generally remain confined to the mundane world of projects, budgets, punishments, discipline and more often than not – self-gratification of the powers to be. Never ever the need for probity in public life is discussed, much less acted upon.

And the almost tearing hurry to comply with the unethical demands of superiors even at the cost of the organization and the nation is invariably witnessed. Often this is the result of conditioning that we have been accustomed to – of never saying a “NO” to a powerful superior perhaps because of the degeneration of the spinal cord with the years spent in the services or for expecting the same ourselves from subordinates. Yet there are exceptions, a small sample of which was on display recently at the felicitation ceremony at the civil services officer’s institute.

The last decade has perhaps been the worst if one indeed regards a decline in moral values and an absolute lack of ethical values as the barometer of societal evolution. Rampant corruption reared its head only to be equalled by the incidents of violation of the dignity of the fairer sex. The Nirbhaya incident of almost two years ago, the public uproar thereafter and the almost incessant continuance of such incidents in the face of an abysmal lack of concern by those who are meant to govern has left a bitter taste in the mouth. And the series of scams topped by the one during the common wealth games that spared not even an occasion of national pride in an international arena left the society drained of any hopes of a turnaround in the happiness index of our nation. And we continue to chug along downhill.

Having handled two sinking ships in my career, tourism development corporations at the central and state levels and then witnessing their spectacular turnarounds convinced me that radical growth can come out of only radical decisions, strict adherence to the right path and most importantly an almost unflinching commitment in sticking to ethical values and impeccable conduct. Unfortunately this is not the stuff imparted to fertile brains in universities of education as well as life and therein lies the malaise. Materialism has conquered almost everyone and the human value systems have become conspicuous by their almost universal absence, except in pockets and that too, not by design but by chance.

These are changing times in the life of our nation. Perhaps we are poised to acquire our rightful place in the comity of nations, yet that may happen only if we follow what all our scriptures have laid down – the ends do not justify the means, the means also have to be right.

Monday, December 8, 2014

A Nation failing to protect dignity of women

The nation jumps, every time a woman is raped and it jumps rather high when the case is a high profile one as in the latest UBER taxi rape case in the capital. While immediate action that was taken leading to the arrest of the rapist is commendable this time and also on previous occasions, the malaise unfortunately continues unabated. Sadly every day the newspapers invariably carry at-least one new horror story of school girls being raped, toddlers being violated or working women being molested, and so it remains, merely one new story for the masses to read and forget.

The Nirbhaya gang rape case of 2012 had indeed jolted the nation into action that manifested more on the streets of Delhi than in any substantive real action. While the level of punishment for such offences increased, it miserably failed to deter the would-be rapist in carrying out his heinous acts as can be witnessed almost every day. Perhaps such cases are indicative of the contempt in which we hold our women regardless of the rhetoric that is often mouthed by almost all strata and segments of the society. The extent of involvement in sleazy activities by even those who were till then highly regarded as a spiritual guru by many is indicative of the low that the society has plummeted to. 

I wish I am wrong, but perhaps the national inability to uphold the dignity of the fair sex is borne out of the fact that with rare exceptions, generally the women who face the brunt belong to the economically weaker strata of the society. And the power to make a change lies with the strata that generally remains unaffected and therefore is unable to feel the pain and the anguish of the common citizen. The advocacy of ban on dress considered revealing and placing restrictions on free movement and interaction of the fair sex is an outcome of warped mind-sets that are now emerging in plenty.

And the basic question remains unanswered, why are we failing to put in place a punishment that would act as a deterrent? Why are we failing to put in place a judicial system that can impart swift justice, for that would also act as a deterrent? Why cant governments publicly declare their intent of protecting the dignity of women, irrespective of which strata of society she belongs to. Perhaps the intent is missing and so is the action.

Castration has to be the minimum punishment for anyone even attempting to outrage the modesty of women. And the gravity of the crime should dictate whether the guy additionally goes behind bars for a minimum of  ten years, a lifetime or is hanged. And it would not be uncivilized to put in place such punishments for those who treat women as a body merely meant to be lusted for. Indeed allowing women’s modesty to be outraged in the scale it is happening in our nation is indicative of an uncivilized society proving itself incapable of good governance.