Saturday, 28 May 2011

“"You hesitate to stab me with a word, and know not - silence is the sharper sword” -Samuel Johnson

It is indeed strange that the word bureaucrat in India has come to be regarded as a synonym for everything that connotes moral decay, red-tape, power-broking, corruption and malpractices. The very mention of the word conjures up in mind the image of a pepper-haired, crisp-shirted, middle-aged, bespectacled 'gentleman' who leads a life of comfort and luxury and commands immense respect in the corridors of power. Ironically though, nobody spares a thought for the young men and women (in their twenties and early thirties) who labor their lives away in the vast hinterlands of our gleaming metropolises so that the process of development may continue un-impedimented.

The dual income corporate couples take immense pride in their multi-million swanky penthouses and bask in the glory of India Shining while having cleared a highly competitive exam their counterparts in the government take bricks and bats and slave away their prime in providing toilets and drinking water to the citizens of an immensely different Bharat. And most of these young men and women have chosen to be in their spot while they could have been just about anywhere else. While it is indeed fashionable to 'like' (aka Facebook) everything handcrafted, organic and green and to 'hoot and tweet' for the cultural icons, it takes more than that  and definitely a lot of raw hardwork and toil to keep the multitudes at sparring with each other and to keep the wheels of change chugging however slowly..

What meets the eye is not necessary the whole truth.What is often not understood is that these young men and women spend their lives away from home at that juncture of their lives when their families (read parents and children) need them most. Much later in their lives when this job affords them an opportunity to lead a stable life and be with their families, more often than not, the parents are no longer there and the children no longer need them as much.. No bungalow or the blue-beacon-ed Ambassador can substitute for the joy of watching one's child grow. The problems of development have remained since times immemorial but one's child will never be three years old again, the sister will not get married again and the wife's youth will be lost forever.. Often one feels that the difficulties borne by the officers as 'occupational hazards' fade completely in comparison to the silent sufferings of the families at large.

Those who lay down their lives as unsung heroes never knew at the beginning of their day that it shall be their last. It sends shiver down the spine to think about their last phone-call to their families, their last shared meal with their colleagues and their last words fighting for an unknown alien cause.And it is precisely this kind of uncertainty that a typical government functionary faces each day.

While it is 'expected ' of the State to provide for modern housing and broad highways, it is rather convenient to ignore the sacrifices of those innumerable government officers who provide their blood and sweat in the acquisition of land for these dream projects. It may be difficult to accept but it takes more than money and power to negotiate with the masses. The government is blamed because it is always there to take the blame and yet lend an ear to the problems. In the same vein though, one finds it  difficult to speak to one's domestic help in a slightly raised pitch. 

Unlike the spokespersons of various conglomerates and unions, the officials never get to present their side of their story and Explain!.. Reason- the skeptics wouldn't take it, the insiders don't need it and any 'medium' would not carry it/channelize for its lack of scoop-ability.. In addition, the grass-root functionaries are rather naive, untrained and powerless to read through the designs and ploys of so called 'sympathizers' who specialize at distorting facts and mis-representing the slightest of utterances. 

The pro-poor, pro-farmer and pro-development intelligentsia only wakes up from its slumber when incidents like Bhatta, Nandigram and Singur take place. In the immediate aftermath of such events, this very 'social think-tank' indulges in frenzied debating, fact-finding, writing editorials and airing discussions at every 'waking' hour. Strangely again, the majority of them do not have much of an idea of the lives of their rural 'brethren' but never shy from dispensing unsolicited but highly opinionated 'Advice' to the same 'Bureaucrat' whose emotionless facade never seems to give away the churning and turmoil from within.. 

Its time we decide to SEE THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS.. These are precisely the times "when silence has the loudest voice."


  1. so true and heartfelt.......

    baby learn the tricks of the trade and learn to make some "scoopable" statements ...........remember the ones the hon. MP Rahul Gandhi had made

  2. great article...most appropriate..!!!!