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Wednesday, June 21, 2023

The book has had a chequered history. Finding a publisher subdued my desire for a while and stifled my authorial ambition somewhat. Then a publisher materialised out of the blue – I later realised he was a small time con man , possibly a plagiariser or quite simply a prestidigitator. He praised the manuscript to the skies, offered to publish the book pronto and then promptly disappeared- back into the blue. The collection of stories written over so many years remained in a state of suspended animation. In my own estimation the worth of the unpublished text waxed and waned . When I looked up to the models that I have admired, the great story tellers, peering down on me from the shelves in my library, I had an impulse to consign the fruits of my protracted labour to the trash bin.
My close family pooled whatever talent they had , from proof reading , editing, laying the book cover . I explained the situations to the renowned cartoonist Pawan jee of Pawan toon fame, and gave him the quips in the bubble and he cobbled some illustrations . The book was ready . But that was not the end of the journey .
I have been eager to get to this stage where I could talk about my book. But now that it is here before me, in fact it has been with me for quite some time now , I am overwhelmed by a growing sense of terror. In my own eyes it looks like an act of “incredible effrontery”, in Saul Bellow’s word. Offering one’s book to the reading public, submitting the fruits of one’s labour to the scrutiny of an audience, one can never be sure of what the reader wants, one can never be sure whether all readers want the same thing. Jean Paul Sartre devoted one whole book to the question : For whom do we write? And yet the question is still as open, as it ever was , for everyone who dares write. For whom do I write ? I write for people like myself , for kindred citizens, befuddled by the system, lost in this maze that is both maddening and easily lends itself to mockery .
Power is portable magic. It almost certainly transforms the holder of power but the exercise of power is a comic spectacle to behold. Achieved either by force or held through delegation, or deceitful manipulation, power manifests itself in much the same fashion but leads to hilarity in different ways . To see how easily the elite can be made to deny their ideals, to bend themselves to the purposes of power , to watch the coy and cautious moves of the civil society toward accommodation makes you laugh till you begin to cry .
Intellectuals , generally speaking , to whom the task to speak truth to power has been traditionally assigned , have become complicit with the violent realities of the situation, have crept into bed with power. Truth deflates the bloated ego of power like nothing else but telling the truth has never carried more risk.
“We only joke (about things) to avoid an issue with someone,” said Robert Frost. ‘Humour is the most engaging cowardice’. So it has fallen to the jesters of the world to take down the Humpty Dumpties’, toppling them to earth, belly down; to bring the high flyers crashing on terra firma , belly up.
Where is Banana Republic ?Nowhere and everywhere. Banana Republic has lost its historical context which referred to a specific economic and political trope created by and in service of US interests. Kleptocracy, legislators for sale, the phony majesty of the sovereign citizen, intolerance to the stories contrary to officially ordained truth are now the givens in democracies. Even Donald Trump apprehended that we may “become a corrupt banana republic controlled by large donors and foreign governments,”. To lend some comic relief Imran Khan recently bemoaned that his country was turning into a Banana Republic ! The meaning of Banana Republic has been enlarged to include a diminished democracy, a dysfunctional system, a deranged society .
Anchuria , the original banana republic was a fictional country created by O’ Henry , where , “Outside in the shade of the lime-trees the crew chewed sugar cane or slumbered, well content to serve a country that was contented with so little service.” We find a little bit of Anchuria everywhere, every day; in government offices , in banks , in customer care centres , even in the emergency wards of hospitals. When life begins to imitate art, artifice becomes redundant. To joke is to tell the truth and vice versa.
Ten stories linked by the common theme of fatuity - and corruption -of Power, Tales From Banana Republic casts an amused look at those who wield power and the ecosystem that flourishes around them, from the point of view of an observer who is not only outside the system but, in a manner of speaking, suspended somewhere in mid-air. The stories do not lampoon any particular person, certainly not any particular public figure , civil servant or police officer , though they frequently make their appearances in the stories . Dwelling on character traits that are shared by those in power, the Tales From Banana Republic attempts to capture the essence of the grotesque , the quirkiness, even the absurdity, in the contradictory and duplicitous exercise of power. It is some sort of Everyman of power .

अगर आप जीवन में सफल होना चाहते हैं तो लज्जा का परित्याग कीजिये, ग़ैरत को तिलांजलि दीजिये , शर्म हया को ताख पर रखिये और बिलकुल बेशर्म बनिये।सरे बाजार निर्वस्त्र हो जाइये। आप की निर्लज्जता आपका अभेद्य कवच है. सोचिये अगर दुर्योधन लंगोट उतारकर गांधारी के समक्ष प्रस्तुत हो गया होता तो आज भी उसके वंशज राज कर रहे होते। मन्नू भंडारी ने तो बहुत पहले ही सब कुछ भांप लिया था। “धोती के नीचे सभी नंगे और ससुरी इस राजनीति में तो धोती के बाहर भी नंगे. पर डा साहब एकदम अपवाद?धोती के नीचे भी धोती ही निकलेगी इस गीता बाँचनेवाले की, खाल खींचने पर ही आ सकता है इनका नंगापन.” ( महाभोज।) अतः अब सिर्फ नैतिक नंगापन से काम नहीं चलेगा , शारीरिक रूप से नंगा होना अनिवार्य है नहीं तो यह नेक काम जनता को ही करना पड़ेगा .
बेशर्मी मेरा बल है, निर्लज्जता मेरा सम्बल (या सिम्बल), छल ही मेरा कवच है, कपट मेरा कुण्डल. बांधे हुए यह जिरह बख्तर निकल पड़ा हूँ मैं कमान संभालने। देश हो ,प्रदेश हो , जिला हो , प्रखंड हो , स्वायत्त निकाय हो, न सही पांच ग्राम एक ही पंचायत हो, पर जन सेवा से मुझे अब कोई रोक नहीं सकता.
यह विनम्र निवेदन सिर्फ मेरे बेशर्म बंधुओं से है। जिन्हें थोड़ी बहुत भी ग़ैरत बची है उनके लिए मैं ईश्वर, अल्ला , ईसा , पवित्र गुरुओं से दुआ मांगूंगा कि उन्हें नए वर्ष में झोली भर कर बेशर्मी दे ताकि वे सफल हो सकें, समृद्ध बन सकें जीवन की हर जंग जीत सकें .
मेरे प्यारे बेशर्म बंधुओं ,
थोड़ी बेशर्मी दोगे मुझे उधार ?
मेरा वादा है पाई पाई चुका दूंगा
सूद सहित सा भा र ।
मैं जात नहीं पूछूँगा
मैं जमात नहीं पूछूँगा
मैं घर, बार ,आँगन द्वार नहीं पूछूँगा
न हि पूछूंगा कहाँ से कमाई बेशर्मी अपार
यह भी नहीं पूछूंगा
कि आप राजनेता हो ,
अभिनेता हो, अफसर हो किसी
नयी राजनैतिक पहल के प्रणेता हो
शिक्षक हो, शिक्षार्थी हो
शरणागत हो, या बस शरणार्थी हो
दे दो मेरे भाई, बस थोड़ी सी बेशर्मी.
बस थोड़ी और कृपा करो सरकार
मेरे आका ,मेरे परवर दिगार।
एक गोली भी दे दो मुझे, हकीमी हो
यूनानी हो अंग्रेजी हो ,आयुर्वेदिक हो, होमियोपैथी
झोला छाप नेचुरोपैथी कुछ भी चलेगा
बस हो कारगर
मेरा हाजमा दुरुस्त कर दे , पत्थर सी मज़बूती दे दे
जो सब कुछ , मतलब सचमुच सब कुछ पचा ले ,
अजीर्ण न हो , खट्टी डकार न हो , गंदी उबास न हो
बच्चों के मुख का निवाला हो ,बड़े से बड़े बड़ा घोटाला हो
हुंडी हो ,हवाला हो कोई भी गड़बड़ झाला हो
मेरी ईमानदारी पर दाग न आये।
बहुत बहुत आभार , मेरी नैय्या हो जाएगी पार
पर इस अंतरात्मा का क्या करूँ ?
कभी कभी यूँ ही, बस यूँ ही
कुनमुनाने लगती है ,
हंसुआ के ब्याह में
खुरपी के गीत गाने लगती है.
एक सुट्टा हो, थोड़ी सी मदिरा हो,
भांग हो, अफीम हो , गांजा हो , कोकेन हो
ताकि मुझे पूरा पूरा यकीन हो
I am the best , I am the best.
अंधे ,बहरे, गूंगे , नंगे ,बंठे बौने
खरीद रखा है मैंने लाखो में , औने पौने ,
मीडिया गोद में अखबार नवीस कांख तले
ठीकेदार ,खिदमतगार , पलकों की छाँव तले।
बस थोड़ी सी बेशर्मी कम पड़ रही थी.
आप का नया नेता आपके सामने है
चेहरा पर पूरी सफेदी है
लेकिन अंदर बिलकुल काला है
काले के बीच का उजाला ,
उजाले के पीछे का काला
ब्लैक एंड वाइट का खेल है सारा
अपने इस नेता को पहचाने ,
इसी का कहना माने
आइये अब हम सब साथ मिलकर उच्चारें
मेरी जय हो, मेरी जय हो, मेरी जय हो .

Wednesday, May 10, 2023

The well laid plans of men and mice can go awry but when it comes to me ,I get the share of the mice also as far as my plans going awry are concerned . I sought some desperately needed support from my friends in a Facebook post, “Women Don’t Understand Manpower. Here is the link to an edited version of the post.
My friends, all keen book lovers, were however indifferent or too timid to stand up for me but in our WhatsApp group our women friends sprang up spiritedly in the defence of my wife. Now my wife feels entitled to restore order to my hallmark chaos created by books and papers with consequences which are fraught, to say the least. Things came to a head after my missing book , Wittgenstein’s Poker, a riveting account of confrontation between Karl Popper and Wittgenstein in Cambridge, was discovered in
the refrigerator and my wife refused to accept responsibility for its unusual storage.
“Yes, it is I who go looking for cheese and chips, in the middle of night, a book in hand.”
Offence is the best form of defence, so I unashamedly peddled my lebensraum theory in respect of books . That is when she launched one of the most brutal attacks on me in recent
history. With an exaggerated courtesy she said, “So Herr Hitler, would you like your Wittgenstein served for breakfast with white sauce or black pepper? Would you have Lakatos for lunch and Dawkins for dinner or in the reverse order? The eggs,
poultry, milk, vegetable etc would be nicely sitting in your many book shelves. “ My wife is a minimalist and her easy shorthand, encodes all manner of attitudes and assumptions.
It was time to be tactful, some emotional blackmail could perhaps retrieve the situation.
“My memory was becoming that bit less reliable, I was going to be seventy one ,” I told her." My days, and even some nights, are spent chasing elusive memories, a forgotten name, a scrap of a poem, a dialogue from a play speaking to me in jumbled tones."
She immediately brought the issue of books strewn all over, anything that could support a book was supporting it, some were dangerously levitating , that I seemed to have
forgotten about.I must admit if the pages of partially read books, say two or three pages per book , were added, it would certainly make a decent two hundred page tome. Not a very impressive figure but it does make a pile. But I assured her that I was going to get back to them in good time, they were on my to-do-list.
That is when I was overtaken by my foot-in-the mouth syndrome. I adduced wisdom gleaned from Facebook .
“ You collect books to be read at the right time, the right place, and the right mood. Think not of the book you’ve bought as yet ‘to be read pile’. Instead, think of your book case as wine cellar.”
“That is one booze of an idea,” said my wife .
“ It is decided, your books go to the wine cellar. Since we don’t have a wine cellar the garage will do fine. No booze and so no books too”.
Oh, I forgot to tell you. My state introduced complete prohibition in 2016. Bihari civil servants, as a former civil servant I have voluntarily joined my unfortunate serving brothers, cannot drink anywhere on the planet.
I am a law abiding citizen and a meat eater too but if prohibited I will make do with vegetables. I love my occasional single malt but restrained by prohibition I seek solace in the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, reading them aloud to myself to recreate the pleasures of the fabled elixir. Books (of verse) are a necessary accompaniment to the fabled elixir but the elixir has already
fallen to reformist zeal so it is only proper that books got stocked in the empty cellar. No booze and no books to go with it is like the elusive unified theory. Every issue is settled. My wife’s concerns are addressed, my anxieties on score of unread books are stilled.
And “thou” beside me watching your videos on I Pad and I making do with scrutinising property statements of civil servants and affidavits of politicians

Tuesday, December 20, 2022

The Bear Who Let It Alone

Here is a fable for modern day Bihar reeling under the healthful effects of complete prohibition.

The Bear Who Let It Alone
IN THE WOODS of the Far West there once lived a brown bear who could take it or let it alone. He would go into a bar where they sold mead, a fermented drink made of honey, and he would have just two drinks. Then he would put some money on the bar and say, “See what the bears in the back room will have,” and he would go home. But finally he took to drinking by himself most of the day. He would reel home at night, kick over the umbrella stand, knock down the bridge lamps, and ram his elbows through the windows. Then he would collapse on the floor and lie there until he went to sleep. His wife was greatly distressed and his children were very frightened.
At length the bear saw the error of his ways and began to reform. In the end he became a famous teetotaller and a persistent temperance lecturer. He would tell everybody that came to his house about the awful effects of drink, and he would boast about how strong and well he had become since he gave up touching the stuff. To demonstrate this, he would stand on his head and on his hands and he would turn cartwheels in the house, kicking over the umbrella stand, knocking down the bridge lamps, and ramming his elbows through the windows. Then he would lie down on the floor, tired by his healthful exercise, and go to sleep. His wife was greatly distressed and his children were very frightened.

Thursday, December 1, 2022


Perhaps we are all occasional existentialists .To many of us , sometime or the other in our lives , is revealed that life is pointless. In Tolstoy’s description of things “moments of perplexity and arrest of life, as though I did not know how to live or what to do…”This is just one of those days and I don’t know what is bothering me. Nothing has changed, I tell myself . Nothing that I can notice, except for a slight sensation of being ill at ease. In the middle of contentment and well being a sudden surge of ennui, an onrush of undiminished acedia ,some heartfelt bitterness overtakes me . I become aware of a profound indifference to everything. Reduced to a kind of clockwork condition, the zestlessly ticking human machine goes on. In absence of a better definition I would say that I am in the grip of “pink sadness”. “Pink sadness” says Mary Ruefles, “ is not your fault, and .. even the littlest twinge may cause it, …” But that does not help alleviate the condition. Nirmal Verma’s observation ‘उदास’ शब्द ‘उदासी’ की जगह नहीं ले सकता। suddnley assumed a new meaning .People medically inclined will be quick to judge me depressed but they would miss the point.
Intrigued by a small passage in Camus ,early in my life , “ Have you ever had this feeling of a sudden withdrawal from your surroundings and you start wondering, who are you, why are you, what you are. All those urgent concerns which left you restless and distracted melt away leaving no trace . The mind dies and the promised truth is far from being delivered”. I tried to transport myself into this state of being. I was young, I had many commitments, small incentives could send my spirit soaring up. Even serious problems could only knock me down, transiently. I would be up on my two feet , ready to face more blows should they come my way. The prospect of being alive tomorrow in itself was worth living for .I, like everyone else of my generation took tomorrow for granted , it spread out in the future beyond the horizon as far as eyes could see or my mind could wander. I could laugh away the thought that plagued Antoine Roquentin ,“why this eagerness to live in limbs that are destined to rot?” as an existentialist excess , a bit of theatrical posturing .
I guess as you grow old your appetite for future starts getting weaker. The present tense belongs to youth. Its optimism is not shaken by events expected of the future . The memory of that carefree existence is now only a memory, beyond active recall or recreation. It has been replaced by a vague, constant longing for something or someone- or apprehension- beyond the horizon of reality, outside the realm of the approachable. I seem to be longing for “the scent of a flower we have not found, the echo of a tune we have not heard, news from a country we have never visited”. May be it is a secret wish that I could turn the pages of my life like one turns the pages of one’s favourite books!
My love of books served me well during dark times. Even some well-thumbed volumes never lost their appeal and they could thrill me to the core . I turned the best past of two shelves the other day to find a book to drown that dull tom- tom in my mind, which kept me restless and anxious. But without much help . Betrayed by the books in which I found an inexhaustible font of solace and comfort , I realised , too late , that the pleasure was not in the books per se , it only came through them. The recipient was as important a part of the process. I have all the time in the world , I am free to read or write as I choose, when I choose but I don’t . Or more precisely I can’t . The words were at my beck and call. Summoned in ones or twos they would be swarming in great numbers , jostling with each other , clamouring to be considered . But suddenly they have turned renegade , have chosen to seek refuge behind some iron curtain , beyond a shout , beyond a call. The little wretches are out of temper; disobliging; disobedient; dumb. What is it that they are muttering? “Time’s up! Silence!” as Virginia Wolf would say .
But the baffling silence within clamours to be muffled in a cacophony of voices. Not necessarily a raucous jaaz , even a sad tune on an old battered trombone will do . I am not much into Urdu poetry but these two couplets form Firaq Gorakhpuri floated into my mind .
सुकुते -शाम मिटाओ , बहुत अँधेरा हैं। सुख़न के शमअ जलाओ ,बहुत अँधेरा है.
Let the silence of the evening break for it is very dark. Initiate a conversation to dispel the darkness which is very deep .
चमक उठेंगी सियाहबख्तियां ज़माने की. नवा-ए -दर्द सुनाओ बहुत अँधेरा है।
It will begin to illuminate the ill-fated darkness of the world . Sing a sad song for it is very dark .
Whose voice shall it be? In that moment of fecklessness I could not care less. “If the sea is destined to breach the dikes/Let all the brackish water pour into my heart.”
James Joyce, B. R. Sharan and 42 others

Monday, August 8, 2022

My Facebook post dated 3rd May 2022. Why Writing A Memoir/Autobiography Is Not A Good Idea
A friend's suggestion that I should write my memoir plugged straight into that universal vulnerability; we all believe that we have a story to tell and the world is eager to listen to it. Well, not exactly. Not everyone, but there are a fairly large number of people who would probably want to tell their stories should they have the requisite skill, the time and the logistical wherewithal. In that sense of the term autobiography is the proper democratic genre; it admits to its portals people without any distinction (pun intended). Civil servants and police officers as a class, are as eager to make their contribution to the society known as anyone else.
There are many ways of framing a life. Police officers generally like to be seen as swashbuckling heroes, chasing gangsters and drug peddlers, hunting down terrorists and desperate criminals. Those looking for inspirational or sensational literature of this kind will find their expectations undone. To them, it will not quite appeal as a readerly text. As an IPS officer, I did not kill anyone in hot pursuit nor in the heat of battle; custodial interrogation to the accompaniment of aesthetic torture was never a part of my professional repertoire. Never admitted to the first circle of power, never enjoyed the confidence of chief ministers, nor lent my services to Mafia dons, therefore, never performed tasks in the stealth of night for them - the cloak and dagger stuff - which should be now ripe for sharing.
An autobiography must be a frank, bare all document, to get the monkeys off your shoulder. But I do not have any confessions to make. I never felt called upon to atone for my sins and to find solace in spiritual activities. Salacious stories of secret liaisons, scandals, or adultery, would also be found missing from this account. I am afraid I have nothing to confide by way of intimacies or intrigues. So, of what interest will be the career of someone who had simply walked through life ‘without a horse, a saddle, or a sword’ ?I feel honoured but I feel mystified too.
But there is another style of policing. It is less spectacular, affords no drama, has no climactic moments; it is the determination to act, and go on acting, strictly according to the dictates of law. It is a lifelong painful grind, the humdrum of the routine, the refusal to accept the law of the implicit and unstated “exceptionalism” that colonial police was grounded in, and has become part of the unstated ethos of Indian police as well.This ultimately becomes the brick and mortar in which the strongest pillars of a society governed by the rule of law is rooted. But the formula that clever professionals apply in their pursuit of that bitch goddess called success, is to recognise the special rights of people who matter, by recognising their enclaves of privilege marked by crossed bone and skull. Their lives become easy, their reputation in circles that matter soars and they have the best of both worlds. You have to make your choices early, changing horses midstream is not the best bet. The effect of your routine quotidian effort begins to show in the confidence and respect of the people you serve. If you are consistent, if you persevere despite reverses or setbacks then your reputation travels by word of mouth which is much the more durable and authentic.
My father was a lawyer, my grandfather was a lawyer too and my great, great grandfather, Munshi Chatrapat Sahay, was a judicial officer who, according to the family folklore, stood up to the British dictate of using law as a weapon of revenge in 1857 and paid the price for it. So the belief in the supremacy and majesty of law was imbibed with my mother’s milk.This belief, what Kafka’s Zurau Aphorisms defines as “a belief like a guillotine, as heavy, as light” began to gutter as I grew in service .
My forty years in the IPS was a painful journey from innocence to experience. Layer after layer of the myth of law being the weapon as well as the armour of the policeman has frayed, has become a patchwork of rags, until the grand deception clothed in its phoney majesty of Latinate expressions like Fiat Justitia Rauta Calum (Let justice be done though heavens fall) has come off revealing it in its in complete nakedness and those who put faith in law it at the mercy of powerful offenders .
I could make a game of my suffering, I could flaunt the elegant scars from my wounds like badges of honour. But I was troubled by thoughts which gnawed at my deeply held beliefs. One single pain would be multiplied in many hearts of all those close to me, my wife, my children. The cross that should have been mine and mine alone became a family burden. Those were the occasions that all this seemed like a moral self-appeasement , an illicit indulgence. But if you have good samskara the self-doubt is transient.
I have been meditating intently on the last few years of my career, on the desirability of sharing my experience of how a police officer committed to acting in accordance with law becomes a quixotic figure, an object of mild derision as well: whether there is any value in memorialising the sharp decline from rule of law to rule of men. Evolution , it is said is a barbed arrow in time. A biped cannot regress to be a quadruped, vertebrates- those who develop spines over a period of time cannot descend the evolutionary ladder to become invertebrates. For ten years I have waited, equivocated, felt alternately enthused and deterred looking at my own story through critical, even hostile eyes but I have not been able to gather enough courage to present my case to an audience mesmerised by the exploits of Singhams. It is not worth it. As the Bhojpuri saying goes, “ का पर करूँ मैं सिंगार पिया मोर आंधर.” Who should I bedeck myself for, my lover is blind.

Monday, 08 August 2022


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There is a  wide  recognition that the  creation of the IAS was one of the cardinal follies of the wise. It is irrelevant to the people at large  but  it  has made itself   hugely useful to the political class, writes Manoje Nath

Officers of the Indian Administrative Service ( IAS)  who demonstrate the capability to make money from the system ,and make it fast , inevitably endear themselves to people in power.  So , whatever the outcome of the ongoing investigation against Jharkhand Mines and Industry secretary  Pooja Singhal, IAS ,  it will not  interfere with the chances of her  appointment as  Chief Secretary of Jharkhand , when her time comes.  In its brief history of twenty years as a separate state, Jharkhand  has honoured  three  such IAS officers by appointing them as Chief Secretaries . Among officers so appointed   was a gentleman who   was  facing trial in two cases related to  financial irregularities  in  purchase of  fertilizer.  Another one   had  spent many months in jail  on charges of forcing entrepreneurs to donate money to his NGOs and  finally won a reprieve from the Supreme Court . A third officer  who was convicted in an animal husbandry  case,  and perhaps died in jail, had  two stints as chief secretary of Jharkhand. Jharkhand’s case  may be an exception,  but  in  popular imagination  IAS officers  can  make money not only with impunity but with honour .

There are  two  standard  explanations  for  the  steady  diminution of the  stature  and prestige of the IAS . The first  consists  of  playing down the  well-founded criticisms of servility and capitulation, corruption  and chicanery. Even though  sometimes the merit of the criticism is granted ,   its significant  contribution to the polity and society is dwelt upon at great length; distortions and  aberrations  that  may have crept in  are laid at the door of   the  many extenuating circumstances.

If the IAS has failed it is because the country has failed ( or is failing at an accelerated rate) . is  only the extreme formulation of  such an  approach. The other strategy  is  to deflect- and devalue - the criticism by outwitting and silencing the critic with a more vehement self-critical diatribe, an anguished self-loathing of their own, as if the act of advertising could, in itself, absolve the service of all the sins that were being advertised.

The  IAS, according to one view,   requires a particular kind of society  to function  to its full potential , something like the idylls  of Nehruvian era. The post-Independence leaders and influencers like Nehru, Patel, Rajendra Prasad, Ambedkar, Madan Mohan Malviya, T T Krishnamachari, Acharya Kriplani, Jyoti Basu, Atal Behari Vajpayee, Jaiprakash Narayan ( to mention just a handful);  industrialists like JRD Tata, Jamnalal Bajaj, Dinshaw Petit and GD Birla; editors like Desmond Doig, Arun Shourie, Sunanda K Dattaray, Kushwant Singh, Frank Moraes and Russi Karanjia have been mostly replaced by pygmies and carpet baggers. These people may win elections, make  billion of dollars in one year or run up huge TRP ratings, but they are incapable of promoting public values or morals, or establishing ethical corporate standards, or writing an editorial ( let alone investigating a story).

But that is hardly the case .The IAS has  not only been quick to limber up to the  changed  political realities, it  has  scripted an even  more indispensable role for itself in the era of “pygmies and carpetbaggers.”

 Politics, to appropriate Balzac’s remark ,  has  become like ,“Soldiering, … chiefly a financial undertaking, you need  gold in order to do battle, and you need to do battle in order to get gold.”  Some  governments are( were ) headed by leaders from  newly emergent political classes  for whom English  was  not the language of choice, who did not feel constrained by rules, regulations  etc and were  quite upfront  about their  intentions to   abuse their office  for personal gains.

The longevity of governments  challenged the myths that  the IAS had forged  out of isolated life stories  of a  young collector telling off a CM, a chief secretary recording his dissent in days long  gone by, myths that made them intelligible to themselves, provided them with their  reassurance during times of self-doubt. Governments were there to stay; they were here today, they were going to be here tomorrow.  How long could they wait out in the cold?

  Though supposed to be  unaligned, personally free and  subject to the executive authority only within a defined area, they  choose to be  incorporated in the  apparatus  of political power .  Commitment  to  rule based governance , are   pragmatically  abandoned by such officers . They are for the government , the government is for them.

An  interesting example from marine biology will serve as an apt metaphor. In the Bay of Naples, a common sea slug medusa , and a snail, start off as independent organisms but on close encounter become conjoined in such a manner that  both the jellyfish  and the snail shed off a lot of  themselves. A small  portion of  the snail  gets permanently affixed to the ventral surface near the mouth of the jellyfish to  become one single  organism. They get along nicely in a symbiotic arrangement, exploiting each other’s biological  capabilities   and yet   retain their specific otherness.

A clutch of  trusted officers-the drastically  edited version of  service , the cadre  may have hundreds of  officers , in an arrangement reminiscent of the medusa and the snail,  handle  the core  sectors of the governments  as also  the entire range of political purpose.  The others  are   kept in a  state of idle splendour.  But   like an Englishman  the IAS is “never at a loss for an effective moral attitude … you will never find  … them in the wrong.” It is responsible for  the marginalisation of its own  service and yet  persists  with  the complaint of  political interference.

There is a  wide  recognition that the  creation of the IAS was one of the cardinal follies of the wise. It is irrelevant to the people at large  but  it  has made itself   hugely useful to the political class . In   an unusual consensus, cutting across their ideological divide , they have found them to be  even  more  valuable after retirement than they are  in service. As  heads of  all the  accountability institutions , all those roadblocks to arbitrary exercise of executive  power, they  render  them  defunct . In many  states you can  find officers  recruited in the 60s , 70s, 80s making themselves useful to their political  masters in  a myriad  ways. To  stand  an old saying  on its head , “the  dead lion is  even more valuable  than the living donkey .”

 The alliance of these  two major institutions  has significantly altered the   balance of power  much to the detriment of democracy.