Saturday, 15 July 2017

THE IAS AND ITS TEN COMMANDMENTS : A BRIEF HISTORY.


   It all actually started with Moses, he of the flowing white mane and AMS ( Anger Management Syndrome), when he descended form Mount Sinaii clutching the tablet on which were inscribed the Ten Commandments.  It WAS a tablet, and not an IPad or Notebook, my extensive research has revealed, and the ten edicts were burnt on to it, not downloaded from the Cloud. In fact there was very little of downloading or uploading going on it those hoary days, except the uploading of salt from the Dead Sea ( it was very much alive then) onto ships by the Tatas, owned by a patriarch called Cyrus the Great, better known as Cyrus Mystery. In any case, the point I am making in my own befuddled way is that the Commandments laid down a code of conduct by which the Israelis were expected to live and die ( mostly the latter in those intolerant days) and which they now use to build settlements on the West bank and Gaza.
   Even more important, however,the Ten Commandments of Moses established a trend which has continued to this day. Every organised group of people now are required to have a set of rules   (engraved in stone, naturally) by which they are expected to function and through which they retain their distinct identity. The doctors, for example, have the Hippocratic Oath, the Mafia has its Omerta, 18th century Europe had the Code Napoleon, the Freemasons have the peculiar handshake and twitching eyebrows, the BJP has its own dictum ( " Who says you cannot fool all of the people all of the time? " ), the  Congress, notwithstanding all its scams, has a simple credo ( "The buck stops here") ), the Income Tax Dept has also devised one, post demonetisation ( " Zindagi ke saath bhi, zindagi ke baad bhi") and so on. I hope you get the point.
   The IAS could not be long exempt from this universal imperative and therefore, after sorting out the initial teething problems ( should their dress code be the loin cloth or the safari suit ? should a lady Director be designated a Directory ? does a round of golf or rubber of bridge at lunch-time qualify as public service? etc.), it too has come up with its own code. It is not known when and where the IAS Commandments originated, but it is suspected to have been brewed in Happy Valley of the National Academy at Mussoorie, along with the local hooch known as " chhang". Happy Valley, incidentally gets its name because of this "chhang": probationers who go into it every day to face the tortures of horse riding and " shramdan" return happy and elated after imbibing a kettle or two of the concoction, somewhat like the sceptics in Mathew Arnold's poem who went to church to scoff but stayed to pray. Commandments 3,4 and 6 do reveal the distinct imprint of "chhang". Later, when the probationers were dispersed all over India in the manner of Jumlu Devta scattering an assortment of Gods all over Kullu district from the heights of Chanderkhani Pass , these Commandments permeated the entire service and have come to stay.                                                         This Code has not yet been notified in the official gazette or included in the Directive Principles of the Constitution, but it has stood the test of time and enabled the service to retain its distinctive style and elan. It has stopped in its tracks latter day reformers who have presumed to  "improve" this twice born service by shenanigans such as renaming the Planning Commission as the Nutty Ayog or replacing the Empanelment process with an Impalement process.Coincidentally, it also contains ten edicts or commandments, and is reproduced below for the benefit of those who aspire to be a number on the civil list:

[1]  Thou shall not take My name in vain, except through proper channel.
[2]  Blessed are the meek for they shall never know what hit them.
[3]  Do unto others before they do unto you. Forget that shit about turning the other cheek.
[4]  Love thy neighbour but grab his departments( and his car, house and private secretary). Leave his wife alone, she is not part of the perks , you benighted idiot!
[5]  Thou shalt rest from thy labours on the seventh day, it being the Sabbath- and on the sixth, fourth and third, being second saturday, public holiday and casual leave.
[6]  Covet not thy colleague's wife- before ascertaining his seniority.
[7]  Thou shalt be transferred every second year lest thy sins catch up with thee. If they have already caught up with thee then thy shall not be transferred at all, in order that they can be given a proper Christian burial.
[8]  Honour thy father and thy mother but glorify thy Chief Minister and Minister.
[9]  Thou shalt not steal- but the good Lord will turn a blind eye to gifts at Divali and New Year's.
[10]  Trust only in the Lord-provided He is not in the IPS or IRS.

HALLELUJAH !

6 comments:

  1. An add-on to the 10 codes could be:
    preserve/save your monthly salary judiciously as the tax payers' money takes care of all your whims and fancies save kids' education and daily food marketing. Then enjoy the quadruple results from the saved amount after your retirement even as you get a monthly One Lakh INR as pension.Wow man- privileged lot indeed and a different cup of Mafiosi as well.

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  2. All in good fun Avay. Tell me, however, if you have come across an article from a retired army officer making fun of the Army? Or one from a retired IPS officer writing in a similar vein about IPS? Or any other service about itself. Why does IAS suffer from this masochistic need to pull down itself? Are we apologetic about the so called 'elevated status' of our service? Do we feel that we don't deserve it, or that we don't do a useful job? Some soul searching is needed.

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  3. WOW!I can almost see you bristling with indignation, Subodh ! But to answer your question: one of the reasons why the IAS occupies the highest rung of the services and of policy making is because it can take a broader view of matters and rise above the tunnel vision most other services have. This includes( or should include) the willingness to take an honest look at itself too. And if you do that you will find that there are plenty of peccadilloes, angularities, quirks and hypocrisies in our service that lend themselves to lampooning, if not to serious criticism.
    Secondly,the mild criticism implicit in humour is not vicious or angry like the censorious type: in fact, there is something almost lovable about it. We don't joke about Sardarjis, wives and blondes because we hate them: on the contrary, we have a certain fondness for them. Of course, certain traits that are targeted for the leg-pulling are magnified, but then exaggeration is the essence of all humour. To do so is not to " make fun" of the object of attention but to bring it closer to the reader.
    Thirdly, why should we allow ourselves to be cast in the rigid, uniformed mould of the Army or the IPS ? Where then would our claim to "intellectual" superiority lie? In our misplaced effort to " defend" our service lets not bring it down a couple of notches.
    I do not make fun of the IAS: I laugh at its idiosyncrisies and fondly smile at its hypocrisies and grandstanding. Humour is not only the best medicine, it is also the best diagnostic tool. As long as we can acknowledge the more facetious side of some of our more amusing characteristics and practices, and of the ponderous seriousness with which we take ourselves, we will evolve organically. The moment we stop doing so we'll become the third rate bureaucracy most people think we already are!

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  4. I don't know whether to laugh or cry. All the bouquets and brickbats were earned by members of the community without much assistance from others. So we have earned the right to laugh at ourselves too.

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  5. It takes a certain amount of honesty to take a good, long, deep look at one's 'family' and be able to laugh at oneself. It is rightly said that Humour is the best medicine, but it is also true that he who laughs, lasts. A senior from school joined the Service a couple of years before me, and we met up in Charleville. He had a pipe stuck in the corner of his mouth and was carrying a book by Alexander Solzhenytsin in his hand. His nose was upturned at almost 75 degrees supporting a set of thick framed glasses atop. This, he told me, was how an IAS officer was supposed to look ... studious and superior!

    Later, in the State, I discovered that nearly all my IAS colleagues had lost their ability to laugh freely, or even smile - except among their own coterie. That stiff upper lip more often than not ended up giving them a stiff neck, supported by a rather weak spine. It was only the upright and fearless among them who had retained the rather rare ability to laugh .... be it in the face of adversity or at their own foibles.

    Avay was .... and still is ..... one such. God bless him!

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  6. Thanks, Pankaj. You've nailed it perfectly. We take ourselves so seriously-obsessed with our own self-importance. postings, perks, empanelment, promotions- that we lose touch with reality and the ability to look inwards or to laugh at our own pomposity.One officer who never let this officiousness get to him was Mr. Om Yadav-one of the most liked and respected of our seniors ( at least by his juniors, which is the real indicator of an officer's real standing). You knew him, unfortunately he is now gone. Once, as Chief Secretary, he was summoned by the CM who handed him a list of desired transfers across the table and asked him to issue the orders. Om held the note in his hand, upside down, and nodded. The CM said: " Mr. Yadav, you're holding the list " ulta"- hold it straight so you can read it properly." Om's immediate response was: " Sir, it would make no difference if I was to hold it straight- it makes no sense anyway!"- and walked out and issued the orders. But he had made his point without picking a fight. That is the beauty of humour.

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