Indian Civil Services - The Moral Responsibility

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"Income tax sleuths recovered Rs 4.25 crore in cash and investments from a husband-wife couple who are senior Indian Administrative Service officers in Madhya Pradesh. Arvind Joshi, principal secretary (jails), and his wife Tinu Joshi, who is Madhya Pradesh’s principal secretary (women and child development), surrendered Rs 2 crore in cash to the officers who raided the couple’s house in Bhopal. The raid on the couple’s house was part of 20 simultaneous raids by income tax sleuths in Bhopal and Chhattisgarh capital Raipur. IT sources surmised that the raids yielded unaccounted wealth amounting to more than Rs 200 crore."

- Hindustan Times, Bhopal, February 04, 2010

The above is not just a one-off incident associated with the workings of civil-servants across India. True, that all such cases do not come to the surface, and go unreported in any form of media. But everyone knows what goes on behind the closed doors of Indian bureaucracy. One fails to understand why a person, who has enough work to keep his mind fully occupied, needs no less than Rs. 200 crores!

Then there was this other case I read on a blog sometime back, about a guy who was preparing for the civil services examinations. He was helped devotedly by his girlfriend who did everything possible to support him through his studies, which included preparing meals for him and copying notes and stuff. But once the guy made it through, he wasted no time in distancing himself from the girl. According to him, she had no place in his (now prestigious) life, being a girl from a lower caste/class.

The civil services examination is considered to be the toughest of all examinations in India. Only the very best get through, which should ideally be the case, considering the sort of job they have to take care of. Be it of administering a district/division, looking after foreign policy and foreign relations or maintaining law and order through the police service.

And though, obviously the best candidates academically make it through the tough three-level examination, the above cases depict there is something horribly wrong somewhere.

There can be two explanations for the above examples. Firstly, it’s possible that those who get into the civil services cannot escape the temptation to use their position for monetary or other gains. And thus, it’s very possible that they find themselves trapped in the web of law sooner or later.

But secondly, and more importantly, it’s possible that people, who are already in possession of a particular mindset and with a set of twisted morals, are able to get into these prestigious jobs. This is a possibility that is even more dangerous than the first as the chances of such a person to act crookedly are more.

It is easy to commit a crime when one has the power or position to carry it off. But it is easier to commit a crime when one has the mindset for it.

I have personally known officers with strong prejudices regarding caste, religion and class, holding important offices of the government. Can one expect such people to act without any bias relating to caste, religion or class?

The UPSC conducts a three-level examination to induct new officers for the government every year. The first level (Preliminary exam) tests the candidate’s ability to cram a given set of subjects. The second level (Mains) tests the ability to present all that crammed data through writing. The third and the last level (Interview) tests the ability of the candidate to talk himself out of various situations put forward by a set of questions by the interview panel.

But nowhere can they asses the mindset of the individual. And I agree that it is not possible by any examination to asses the true character of an individual. But isn’t it important? Knowing that the very progress of the society and the nation lies in the hands of these civil-servants!

Thus, we have the likes of the above two examples, in addition to those such as one Madhuri Gupta (who leaked sensitive info to another country) or that molester DGP from Haryana who is supposedly rotting in jail (although we can be assured that he is receiving full VIP treatment even inside the jail). Or, for that matter, that SDM from UP who is on the run after murdering his neighbor, and the DIG of Police from Rajasthan, who is still absconding on charges of rape.

I don’t mean to say that all administrative officers are corrupt or im-moral. If that would have been the case, then the system would have collapsed long ago. But the system has been in a state just short of collapsing in many parts of India. And it is because of all those 'bad fish' on high official posts.

Though usually, all those acts that are illegal are also invariably im-moral, but no im-moral mindset falls in the category of being illegal. And that is where the real danger lies, as such im-moral, prejudiced, corrupt and crooked mindsets should have no place in the country’s bureaucracy.

Picture Credit: Google Images

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