Sunday, May 23, 2010

On the Passing Away of Civil Service

Today we mourn the passing of a dear old friend, Civil Service, who had been with us for many long years. He will be remembered as having cultivated such valuable lessons as: codes and manuals, standards and procedures, SOPs and protocols, work and service keeping the nation’s interest in mind and contributing endearing terms of disdain as official and officialese, babu and babuese, mandarin and red-tape. Not to forget such unforgettables that everyone in a hierarchy rises to his level of incompetence!

Civil Service started out with the intent of being civil in its service, and lived by simple, Spartan philosophy and being fair and just to the people it served. People well-bred and animated with noble thoughts were drawn to it and they set a standard that was accepted by all ungrudgingly, even when certain decisions went against their own private interests.

But then the world began to change and so did independent India. Corruption, nepotism soon raised their ugly heads. The so-called simplistic idea of a civil service morphed into something strange and bizarre. Civil Service’s health began to deteriorate rapidly when he saw newer abilities – clever, ingenious, and overbearing – taking centrestage.

Civil Service lost ground when people pooh-poohed his sincerity and ratted on his inability to see the changing world of wealth and consumerism.

Civil Service lost the vim to live as offices became playgrounds literally and metaphorically of criminals who strutted about the world as larger-than-life heroes.

Civil Service sulked with the growing Godparents-Godchildren syndrome that made networking aspirational in this Republic of Civil Service, and meritocracy was replaced by sycophancy.
Civil Service took a beating when he couldn't stop a senior cop accused of molesting a teenage girl from occupying the highest office in the State police.

Civil Service finally gave up the will to live, after yesterday’s villains were hailed today’s successes – if not heroes, and yesterday’s heroes dubbed life’s failures and society’s anachronisms.

Civil Service was preceded in death, by his parents, Honesty and Truth; his wife, Fairness; his daughter, Neutrality; his son, Reason.

Civil Service is survived by his following 11 step-brothers (STBs) and one step-sister, born to his father’s several other wives:

Pliability, who jumpstarted the process of metamorphosis of civil service, swaying to every crosswind and tilting at every windmill, testifies being honest when it is the ‘rule of the honest’ (thank god for the temporary aberration!) and makes up for such aberrant time through splurge and orgy when the ‘propitious times’ comes about.

Malleability, who takes any shape others want him to. Being good inherently implies he is formless and can take any form the situation warrants. It’s his speed that impresses everyone around. He thus emerges the ‘tall’ guy much as his opposite number is dubbed the ‘fall’.

Flexibility is the third son of his second step-mother along with Pliability and Malleability. He does as others desire – even does what others don’t want him to but dream him to! This is what distinguishes him from others. He is sui generis and destined to go up the totem pole. His reputation of flexibility reaches the pole before he actually goes that far!

Stretchability stretches till he snaps – hence is very altruistic! He allows himself to be pulled in different (even opposite!) directions by the invisible strings as though he were a marionette. He doesn’t mind such appellations of marionette; he is honest enough to realize that if he scratches the surface he will discover he indeed is one – open to maneuvering by others in position of power and pelf.

Magnanimity, the fifth STB, is truly a candy stick, believes in giving as much to others as others want him to – even more at times if he could. ‘More’ makes him a star. In the process, he loses nothing. Instead he gains everything; it is a veritable win-win for all. This can be in the form of goodwill or money, even both. Either way, he doesn’t get poorer one whit; His Magnanimous GoI is always there to pick up the tab for the magnanimity dished out.

Filthy-lucre believes in making as much hawala transactions as is expected of him by him, and, of him by others. He is the fulcrum that holds all attributes together. In a market-driven globalized economy, as a hardnosed practitioner of realpolitik and real-economism, he knows money is everything. It is the open sesame to name, fame, comfort, recognition – in this life and hopefully, in all future ones, not only for him but for his progenies as well. So he makes no mistake. And he does not tarry when the sun shines. He makes hay, which the original civil servant now lying dead, because of lack of innate spunk, called it filthy. Why, he rebuts, didn’t he earn his spurs in the Dholpur Lottery of Civil Services Exam?

Utilitarian is the narrative who sacrifices himself for use by others and for the utility of others; indeed, he is a philanthrope! His utility is his USP and he subsists in making memories of his past services. The beneficiaries are not ingrates. They fondly remember such utilitarian gestures and when the time comes for recognition their elephantine memory rewards him handsomely, often unasked. His climb up the totem pole is assured.

Drainy is the Siamese-twin of Utility born to the fourth wife who has the ingenious capacity to drain the tax-payers’ resources for the greater good of his own numbers! This skill enables him to perform other attributes with √©lan; it is, in fact, the lubricant that makes the wheels of governance run. Hence, in a way, this is the numero uno of all the step-brothers.

Partier believes in partying at the drop of a hat and till he tires (even dropping dead). A party is a melting-pot. It melts the intransigents and melds them after him, who – now like putty clay – are ready to take the shape he wants them to. Of course, the parties have to be bacchanalian, otherwise they are no parties. Throw in a dash of the aphrodisiac and you have a heady mix that will smelt everything in view. He earns oodles of glory from these parties.

Garrulity born to the same mother carries similar DNA to Partier and has enormous capacity for endless chatter. It makes him a popular, even a cult, figure. He is a smoking hotspot of boasts, sleaze; he character assassinates civil servants. He thus has his fill, and endears and wows the august gathering.

Close on the heel of the last two, though born out of wedlock to the seventh wife (subsequently married) is Cavalier who displays demonstrative smarts and derring-dos. This is actually an outflow of the throughputs that the last few possess. Which is why, to the lay man, it may border on magic realism and take one back and forth in rapid-fire motion to things that may seem and sound very surreal. But that is what it is meant to be: to put people in a trance.

I am not finished yet as Hallucinogen brings up the rear what with its Teflon-coat waiting to be given a fresh coat of paint. Not to be outdone by shadowy acts, this step-sister shows the fertility to further fellow civil servants’ causes: promotion, scales of pay, cadre expansion – all at taxpayers cost.

The funeral procession was noticeable for the thinning attendance. None of Civil Service’s step-brothers-sister deigned to attend. They were busy in their own worlds. But the media in its curiosity (some say, even perversity) was present to tell the tale.

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