Sunday, January 15, 2017

IAS Chronicles: You know you have become a Pakka Sahib when....

1. You are obsessed with ‘Sir’. The world is divided in two kinds of people, those whom you address as Sir and others by whom you are Sir’ed. You start responding less when called by your name and more when addressed as ‘Sir’. The word ‘yes’ for seniors is replaced by Sir and you are often heard talking to them on mobile Sir.....Sir.....Sir, Sir........Sir.

2. You spend half your time worrying about seniority. There are people who are senior to you and people who aren’t, and till you figure that out you never rest easy. You find different ways to decide seniority amongst different services, jobs and you find it difficult to remember names but you can smell seniority.

3. Your name gets IAS a permanent suffix and people address you as Mr XY, IAS. You start having an identity crisis without this suffix. Officers begin to write so in their wedding cards and this suffix remains loyal even in your obituary.

4. Your attention span reduces to two minutes and anything that takes more is not worth your time. By the end of the day, you have solved thousands of problems with devoting an average of one minute to each.

5. You do a lot of work but find it difficult to explain what your job is. As an IAS officer you are supposed to do anything under the sun and your kids always wonder what keeps you busy all the time.
6. You have seen best and worst of places, you have seen best and worst of people and basically you have seen so much in a short time, you become inert/immune to all around.

7. Your formal persona takes over your normal self and you find it hard to laugh freely or cry aloud. Your officer like qualities becomes your routine behaviour and it is difficult for anyone to spot you laugh or cry.

8. You stop opening the door of your car and wait for the chauffeur to open it all the time. It is unbecoming of an officer when you open the door of the car yourself. You also become incapable of sitting anywhere other than diagonally opposite to the driver and this arrangement can never be compromised.

9. You may do weights in the gym but in office, you can never be seen even carrying a diary. A peon will always accompany carrying your stuff and it is beyond the dignity of an officer to have anything in her/his hands. You also become obsessed about sitting on Chair covered by a towel and no officer worth their place in hierarchy can dare not to have one.

10. When you are alone, you find it difficult to cross even roads. You risk being run over by motor cars because you are in the habit of traffic being stopped by security whenever you cross the road.

11. You find it difficult to make new friends and your haughty demeanour keeps strangers at bay. You are always worried with whom you socialise and your reputation is more fragile than would be bride.

12. You start claiming free passes like your birthright and whenever you go for a play or concert, you spend most of your time in searching who could manage a better pass.

13. Everybody knows all the latest gossips about all around about their personal and professional lives and you have enough real/imaginary material to write a sleazy novel on any officer’s life.

14. In any official parties, right to speak is bestowed as per seniority and pearls of wisdom flow unidirectional towards the juniors. Most of the monologues start like ‘When I was posted at such and such place.....’ and you are doomed to hear this story for the nth time. As you progress in hierarchy, you also find yourself uttering ‘When I was posted at...’

PS: Slowly but steadily, the breed of Pakka Sahibs is becoming endangered but if you spot most these qualities in any person including myself, you know you have seen one ;)

Tuesday, January 10, 2017


He had promised that he will come back to Darjeeling and stay with us for some days. He wanted to finish some work and then take a break, away from the busy life that he had been leading. I still remember his commanding voice, the aura of his personality and despite all that he had achieved in his life, his simplicity.

When I read in the newspapers that Om Puri was no more, I felt I had lost someone who was dear to me. We had met only for a day and as it happen, some of us sat together for almost entire night and discussed life, philosophy and dreams. After arguing, fighting and a debate that went on like eternity we forgot that he was the revered Om Puri. He was just like any other friend with a heart of gold but one who had seen life yet remained unscathed. 

His simplicity was beyond description. Like a true celebrity, he conceded to the demands of children, old aunties and others who wanted to intellectually impress him. Most of them behaved as if they had known him for ages and he was humble and polite.  They just wanted to get clicked next to a Bollywood icon and I could see that this man tolerated, rather than cherished flattery.

I saw in his eyes a loneliness that comes in a man who is true and beyond malice and with whom world rarely does justice. He had a keenness to learn new things and like any other father, was passionate about his son’s grooming. He had great love for this country and was and votary of peace. Talks of hatred and disharmony disturbed him. 

When a TV anchor prodded him and got an undiplomatic response about a martyred Jawan, he was so much ridden with guilt that he went to meet the family in their village. This was a man who started to live on his own at the age of fourteen and despite all that he had achieved on his own, sought forgiveness with folded hands from the family.

For a moment I felt sad that he died a lonely death. It is said that you understand death when it takes away someone near to you, and how much I wish now to sit with him and talk about everything. It is so unnerving to think that I will never meet this man again.

While parting, he gave me a pack of cigarettes. ‘Oh I have nothing to give you and since I love these, keep these as a souvenir even if you don’t smoke’. Today I did take one out and remembered him.

Adieu dear friend, may you rest in peace!

May you get in that other world, all that you truly deserved and this world was not capable to give!

Thursday, December 01, 2016

Country, before Self!

The Country always comes first.

I have been to places you may never see, I have dealt with kinds you wish never existed and I have done deeds you won’t even prefer to know. You cannot imagine all this sitting in your comfortable homes and busy in your comfortable dreams. I have seen my country rise against all odds and against its troubled past. I have seen sacrifice of family and friends and after a million similar deeds, our country emerged as we see it.

After all these years I have only realised one thing, that country comes first. If only you can instill this sense in each and every citizen, no one can stop your country.

I am sure you have heard my name but just as a custom, let me tell you. I am Mao Zedong, the Chairman of Communist Party and the father of Great People’s Republic of China. I am the same Mao whose pictures you have seen in text books, I am the same person whom people revere and fear in equal terms. Love me or hate me but I am what I am.

China was not always great. It had seen corrupt kings who were weaklings and governments that never existed. That was before I reined in.  Do you know once upon a time, we did not have even enough to eat? You heard it right; the great People’s Republic of China had not even enough to feed its citizens and people died on streets. It was fifth decade of last century and enemies of the state ruled the roost. Farmers toiled in the fields selflessly, soldiers struggled hard to safeguard the country and millions slept hungry.

Today you may laugh at it but do you know who kept the country hungry? That little nasty beast bird, sparrow.

You just have to believe that country comes first. Keep that faith and never rest till you have attained your aim.

 If you ask what can be done from those experts having long beards and wrinkled face, they will take hours and hours to tell you it is complicated (their eyes look silly behind those thick eyeglasses). They are the reason why problems persist. They will never tell you what you should do and it is your own judgement, your own ability to decide which you can do to take the country through.
One day in the afternoon after my siesta, I sat up with an old farmer’s manual. It was full of those truisms and one of that was warning farmers from smart sparrow. The answer was in front of me. Productivity of farms was never the problem, it was that nasty sparrow. It ate a huge chunk of food grains and all our renowned experts, our worthy leaders of past age could never see it.  

I have always been meticulous. A leader just cannot do the things; a leader should also be in control. I called my entire cabinet and made them wait for an hour. I called party men and press and then did I tell them, and along with them told the entire nation too, give me your fifty days and world is yours.
I gave them a decisive plan, area by area, field by field and I asked them to give up sleep for some days; the only thing they had to ensure was there was no sparrow left. They were trained to beat drums, they were trained to shoot and the only thing they had to do was to do this relentlessly for fifty days.

You can never imagine the power of ordinary citizens. You ask them once to sacrifice their hours for the country and they will sacrifice everything.

The country always comes first and I made them believe it.

There were millions of people on this job and soon we just had carcasses of those beasts. It was almost magical to hear the drumming of those drums, the energised rural populace and the celebration when the last beast is killed.

And then there were those who come like bees following honey. Slowly they start whispering this is bound to fail. They also write on the neighborhood walls and then publish it in obscure newspapers and books. It is not that I cannot swallow dissent but the only thing I cannot bear is dampening the spirits of those set out to change the nation. If you cannot aid in nation building, at least do not laugh at others who do it. 

These people will talk of ecology, they will blabber natural balance and myriad other intellectual things but ask them about the toil and hard work of the farmers and they will turn clueless. How can they be so far from reality?  

What if yields in one area were less and some people died. People die all the time. Which great thing ever came without any suffering? Our soldiers have been dying all along the borders. Did these intelligent people ever shed a tear in their memory?

They say sparrows eat insects and these pests have increased a million times. Yes, this may be partially true but in the long run, imagine what would be our productivity. Can this huge campaign which has taken shape of a revolution not give desired results? 

Our experts went directly to the people and exposed their lies. Farmers were happy and full of enthusiasm. We were responsive to the changing situation and daily instructions were issued how this plan should progress. 92% of our citizens were all for this campaign. They were willing to suffer not for 50 but for 5000 days. Today was the time they could do something for the country.

The country always comes first.

It has been four years since we started the glorious campaign and today our entire country believes in this concept. The enemies of the state do not know where to hide their face. They will whisper to anyone who would lend them ears that forty five million died due to this but no one believes.
Killing of bedbugs was an important step for building the overall hygiene and the better health indicators that we see today are only because of the great campaign. Once the ordinary citizens realise their power, no power in the world can stop them. When we went against bedbugs, many said were foolish to have this exercise. A huge smear campaign was started that we actually intended to kill sparrows.

And how does it matter anyways? Nation building is a task that these people will never understand. Did anyone ever include these humble peasants and common citizens in nation building? Did they ever complain they were suffering? What is anyways in their life than pain and suffering? Most of the questions in this world are moral not economic. The main objective was to involve these men in nation building. You have to make the populace believe in their leader. Only when we all march together towards a common goal, we can achieve for what we had set in.

We have to fight our common enemy and identify those who say we cannot do it. They should believe that peasants, soldiers and any other countrymen are together and united.

You again ask me what we gained out of all this. Everybody learnt that country comes first, always before anything and no sacrifice is big enough for our beloved country.

PS: The only inspiration for this story was the Four Pests Campaign undertaken in China in the years 1958-1962. All other insinuations are purely imaginary J