The eternal wait..

It was one such weekend, i was longing for,  had thought of a perfect saturday plan, planned not to do anything, just lie on the bed till atleast eleven in the morning and lazy around. Afterall, was working continously even on weekends from first of January this year. Not all the work was Official, but, engaged still i was since the beginning of this year. I said to myself, i really deserved this weekend’s break.

Nothing unusual happened to put spokes in my plans the day before, i.e. friday, atleast till four o’clock in the afternoon. A fax arrived from just nowhere from our headquarters that afternoon intimating that our top boss, the topmost bureaucrat was visiting the city and would visit the Office. No Sooner did the fax arrived, the office geared itself up in near war mode.  “Efficient” employees like myself are the ones to suffer these attacks as they are the ones who are utilized the most. I sometimes envy the not so “efficient” ones, who may or not may be efficient, but have surely mastered the art of  dodging responsibilities. What is more annoying is that this lot of people, not only dodge their responsibilities on the shoulders of not so smarter souls like me, but they enjoy watching us toil with almost devilish grin, a grin that underlines how smarter they were.

So, after the review meeting, it was decided that a presentation be prepared, it was almost 4.34 by now and the process of collection of data from various departments, compiling the same into a presentable presentation was not smaller a task. Given the fact that this presentation will go through atleast three bosses from juniors to senior ones who would suggest modifications & re-modifications.

By the time the first raw presentation was submitted a peon came with circular  intimating that the Saturday Weekly Off was cancelled and that everybody would have to remain present in the office by 8.30 am.  Almost in tandem, the boss sitting next to me checking the presentation told that i would have to sit late today. I laughed myself. It was a case where man proposed and god disposed.

So the task of preparing the presentation continued, till late in the evening, till around 7.45 pm, to be precise.  Tired and totally drained i returned home at around 10.30 pm that night. Just gobbled some food and went to bed, not forgetting to set the alarm clock on to ring at 6.30 in the morning the next day. I went to bed that night in no time.

The next morning the alarm ringed and i almost unwillingly and cursing the arriving guest work up and reached the office at around 8.30 am. The work was in full swing, the cleaning work, every department were giving final touches to their figures, preparing reports, giving final look to what they had prepared. A scurry of activities were going on in the otherwise slow and steady paced government office.

Our bosses went to the guest house to receive the top boss, this boss was infamous for his temperamental and aggressive nature and everybody were aware of his nature, hence, each one of them were getting themselves as prepared as they can to answer any query.

It was around 11.00 am, one of the boss once again came to give a final look at the presentation and suggested few more additions in the presentation, those were aptly incorporated. By that time a phone call came that the Bureaucrat had changed his mind and would be visiting our office first, actually visit to our office was second on the itinerary.  We all rushed to the conference room to make arrangement for the Projection of the presentation and it was said that the Bureaucrat would be here within next half an hour.  With heart losing its pace, we all waited for this gentlemen. All last minute preparations were in place, the bouquet, the photographer everybody were in place, for this elusive guest.

Half an hour passed but the guest was nowhere in the sight. Periodic updates were being received from the bosses who were with the top boss. In all this one thing was notable, one boss was at his cool, coolly carrying out this routine work, he said, that the top boss would not visit the office.  One phone call came informing that the boss has now sticked to his earlier itinerary and is visiting the other office.  Soon news came that this boss was checking almost everything, he did not spared even the toilets, telephonic instructions from the bosses came to be careful. Sweepers rushed to the toilets to ensure it was also sparkling clean.

By now it was afternoon, and we all broke down for much deserved lunch break.

We were now as prepared as we were, like young school going kid fully confident to face exam, each one of us were ready to face the top boss. So we were awaiting with our guest.

Since there was no signs of the arrival of the much sought after guest, i thought of leaving the conference room and went back to my cabin to check my mails.  I was feeling lazy and bit of tired and sleepy. At 3.40, i called up the inquiry counter downstairs to get update of the guest, the reply was that he cancelled his visit to our office. I was feeling like being ditched. For two long days, i worked untiringly, i sacrificed my much needed break for just nothing.  However, the news of drubbing that the other office received sent a sight of relief. For sometimes these  bureaucrats are whimsical and prejudiced, some come with the only objective to fire, to show who is the real boss, and unnecessarily one gets dressing down for no reason, i’ve seen many a bureaucrats in last sixteen years of my job.

Sometimes, i really feel that because of such whimsical bureaucrats, the progress, in our country had to wait, just as i was made to wait for my elusive break.


LBDN (Looking Busy Doing Nothing)

This coming June (On 06th of June to be precise) i will be completing 15 years of continuous service in government. Phew!! time flies so fast. I was just 20 when i joined my office. And didn’t I join my government service with a kind of pride, pride that i followed my father’s footstep (my dad had expired just two months before i joined), my dad being in Indian Navy and i was second generation in my family to serve in government, though I am not in Navy. I had many dreams, many thoughts then, the thought that i would be working for government and would be serving my nation in any minuscule way, was topmost in my scheme of things.

Fifteen years down the line, do i still think that I am serving my nation? I guess i am not… I have learnt many a things in this government service and i feel that the entire bureaucracy works on the simple concept of gratification of superiors, a small employee in order to seek the favor of his junior officer, works as per his whims, the junior officer tries to please his boss who in turn does ditto with his superiors, all these people ultimately try to please the superiors sitting in Delhi, some IAS Secretary or Commissioners, these Secretaries also do the same with Ministers and do anything and everything to please the Ministers.

And our Ministers, we all know their efficiency, their sincerity. Not that all are bad, that would be insulting to people like our PM who is respected by all and one. One such minister, who had royal lineage, was our Minister then. She brought an entire delegation of 42 MPs to Mumbai in the name of Parliamentary Committee. It was my first Parliamentary Committee Meeting then, very raw i was then, and we were all lodged in Hotel Taj for four days. We all made merry for four days and enjoyed luxuries of Five Star Hotel Stay for four full days. The meeting for which the entire scene was created lasted for about 3 hours. Later, i was told that the entire team of 42 MPs had assembled to visit the PM who was then admitted in the Hospital for Knee surgery. And I thought that Parliamentary Committees were for good of our nation. What a complete waste of resources. I recall exactly when the meeting was in progress, one popular leader (from a party representing backward sections in Maharashtra), was frantically searching the restaurant in Taj where he could get to eat some crabs.

I have seen lot many Superior Officers bending their back wrong way to please their bosses in Delhi. One of my boss, attended the personal errands of one Commissioner in Delhi, he visited his place and looked after the maintenance, took care of the top boss’s child whenever he visited Mumbai. On one such occasion, i recall one small time employee came visiting from Headquarter office at Delhi to receive a very glowing welcome from Mumbai’s bosses, the reason being the employee was close to the boss who had powers to sanction funds.

Down the line i feel that this system of working on the whims of bosses is hurting our nation as a whole. For we are not working with a sense of direction or sense of purpose, but our aim is just to make the immediate boss happy. I have seen the entire policy changing after the top boss, who usually happens to be an IAS Officer shifts, the new person who occupies the seat, thinks that his predecessor was an idiot and he rubbishes whatever he has done, and tries to start afresh. Resulting in status quo scenario. When after sometime, he realises that things are not moving, he reverts back to old routine, and by the time he tries to place blocks in place, he is either promoted, transferred, retired or he quits utterly confused.

People who dont adapt to this skill of sycophancy are often subjected to harassment, given lesser importance and are made scapegoats. People who adapt find favor and dont have to follow strict regimes like others. The lesser mortals are those who work in the lowest hierarchies, the class IV staff. The peons and the sweepers. I have seen many of these poor people toil in the houses of these bosses. One such guy and his wife worked at the residence of boss, all this because the boss had promised to promote the guy to higher post. Which, ultimately, he never did. In the same matter, when i was entrusted one work relating to the ‘promotion’ of this guy, i told the boss, why are we doing this, when we know that this is not feasible. The boss said, my boy even i know, but the person for whom we are doing this should feel that we are doing something for him.. The poor guy toiled at this boss’s house for so many years, hoping that something was being done for him. Such an exploitation.

One thing that i was taught by my then bosses was not to hasten up things. For one hastens up things only when he has his ‘personal’ interest in it. When I was new in this entire setup, i used to work very fast, (for records, i still do), but those were the days of plain naivety. Once i tried to help my colleague in getting his file cleared. The crooked boss that he was, he called my colleague and inquired, how much he paid me to get his job done… Poor fella, felt very bad, for he knew that i was sincerely trying to help him out. One person who left a deep impact on my, he’s retired now, used to say that in government you must be LBDN, it means Looking Busy Doing Nothing, he said that whenever you are at your desk others should feel that you are working.

I dont think this type of set up will serve best in changing times, its not that our bureaucracy is bad, may be some people manning them may not be that good, one can say, for given with its shortcomings, bureaucracy has functioned for the last 50 years. The latest example of biggest headcount in the history of mankind is testimony of efficacy of our system. But, for the people, who man it, who extract undue advantage from it. Times are changing fast, people in government must also realise this and sense the changing times, else one day they might find themselves out of sync, not that they are in loop at present either.

To sum it up, a very nice forward received from some friend of mine. Nice wordings in hindi.