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HomeStoriesCivil Servants, From Lord Cornwallis To Khushwant Singh, Tearing Bureaucracy's Artificial Curtain.

Civil Servants, From Lord Cornwallis To Khushwant Singh, Tearing Bureaucracy’s Artificial Curtain.

Civil Servants, From Lord Cornwallis to Khushwant Singh, Tearing Bureaucracy’s Artificial Curtain.

Civil Servants. Khushwant Singh, the writer who wrote with uncommon excellence on Sikhism even though he was an agnostic, earned the reputation of being a womanizer although he had zero affairs and had a never-ending repertoire of jokes, was a civil servant long before he became one of India’s most famous public intellectuals although he shrugged of the tag.

Khushwant Singh getting the Padma Vibhushan

Here is what he had to say about them- ‘their lives revolve around protocol, alcohol and Geritol’. Now he was specific here, he used this rapier sharp quote to specifically describe diplomats, he himself was one in the 50s and traveled the world, so the man knew a thing or two about what he was saying here.

A condensed history of the civil service.

The origin of the civil service can be traced back to imperial China, who held meritocracy in high regard so that it could ensure that only the best leaders were selected.

Civil Servants

How Bureaucracy helped the British Rule in India.

It was not until the late 18th and early 19th centuries that Britain took up the idea in a more haute-monde way to serve the interests of the Crown and the East India Company. Lord Cornwallis spearheaded the moment.

What was the movement about?

To place the selected agents in strategic locations, and then slowly, they would coax their way in to establish a persuasive role in the workings of the Indian rule, who had always been fascinated by the fair exteriors of these foreigners, soon surrendering their own control to the machinations of what we call the bureaucracy.

Bureaucracy’s worst side effect nevertheless become common in one term to the general public: Red Tapism.

What does the term Red Tapism mean?

By red tapism, it means all the invented, unnecessary complex measures that the bureaucrats conjure out of thin air only because they are not in the mood to do so.

How Bureaucracy looks like

Here is a conversation that will help you understand what it looks like in real life-

The common man- Sir, can you sign this file?

Bureaucrat- But you did not bring the documents.

The common man- What documents are you talking about, sir? They are all enclosed.

Bureaucrat- My dear fellow, you forgot to attach the India-Pakistan– China treaty. Also, today is a Wednesday and I am under Shani Mahadasha so you will have to come back after three months .

Continued by the Bureaucrat- Only then I will sign, get this file attested by the Director General of the Ministry of Useless Excuses, until then have a nice day.

Does the above conversation sound familiar? More importantly, did you remember that you are very likely to hear this conversation in a government office? You have and you will not be a stranger to these conversations anytime soon, especially in a country like India.

The realities of being a bureaucrat in India

To become a bureaucrat in India is very easy, you just have to succumb to societal pressure and give only three exams, although if you fail in any of the 2 phases before reaching the final phase you will be transferred back to square one and start the cycle all over again.

Of course if you manage to get through this cycle unscathed without any of the papers getting canceled( that has become quite the trend in the past few days, (soon it may very well become a current affair question) then you can avail a horde of facilities from a government driven car with a red siren, security officials (if you gain celebrity status), free perks in hotels, cinemas and the list goes on.

But something happens to our bureaucrats once they actually become bureaucrats.

They no longer have the same ambitions or verve to empower the society which they used to wax poetic about when they were an aspirant, that spirit dies and instead the urge to hoard all the privileges corrupts the once noble social worker who is now a plutocrat, making government contacts and always feeling that he is not flattered enough.

And in the face of today’s government, it is not even the bureaucrats that have any say, it is the minister above them that dictates, for it is as easy to fall out of favor and get favors if you do not play your cards right.

It is very much like the Bollywood film industry, you will go a very long way if you have any godfather in the business, else you are done with swiftly.

It is not the right way to go about things when the country’s progress is at stake, but then here, might is right.



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