Memsahib’s Diary: Don’t go soft on retired bureaucrats

Christine Pemberton | Jul 07, 2013 

Memsahib's Diary: Don't go soft on retired bureaucrats As I open my beloved, well-worn diary to start writing, may I begin with a quick personal analogy this morning?

Bear with me if you will for a few moments, and let’s see where this takes us.

So, here’s the thing: Later this month, I am going on a high altitude trek in Ladakh, which will involve – Inshallah – a technical climb, which will be an exciting (and slightly daunting) first for me.

Real Bucket list kind of stuff.

Ropes, crampons, snow boots, ice axe – all seriously exciting (no, really and truly, it is very exciting, believe me) but also, let me admit it, also rather daunting.

There have been many weeks of serious-minded training, of course, but the eternal question remains – will it all be enough?  Will I be fit and able to puff my way to 6,250 metres?  Will my knees conk out?  Will I get altitude sickness?  Will I have the mental strength to plod on for hours in the cold and the dark up that steep slope?

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There are days when I feel mentally and physically strong, and totally un-intimidated by the thought of those 6,250 metres.  And then, there are days like today when I can hardly move, I feel so creak-y and groan-y and I doubt myself.  I feel defeated before I even begin.

Which leads me neatly to the way I often feel about India.  There are days, when I think the myriad issues facing this amazing country are easily identifiable, and could all my solved – pouf – like that, with a quick snap of the fingers. And then there are days, when I feel overwhelmed, and wouldn’t know where to start, were I to be in any position of authority.

A feeling-in-control-day goes a little like this.  Read the morning papers and assume a Mary Poppins sort of demeanour.

“Corruption?”
Simple. Arrest them all and sling ’em in jail.
Next problem.
“Poor policing?”
Quick snap of the fingers.  All quite simple, really – recruit and train thousands more cops.
Next problem?
“Littering?”
Quick snap of the fingers…

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You get my drift?  On a day when I am feeling gung-ho about India, I think that, yes, of course, the country is eminently sort-out-able.  Just tackle the issues steadily, one by one, and we will get there.  A corruption-free, egalitarian country. And then there are days (a bit like a bad training day) when I feel completely overwhelmed by it all.

How can a country as vast and disparate as India ever coalesce and progress at equal speeds?  How can the poor and the uneducated, the marginalised and the social outcasts ever get to share in the country’s progress.

Today, as I jot my thoughts down in my diary, I am feeling stiff in my joints (a bad day for contemplating those 6,250 metres) but I am feeling very, very chipper on the India front.

And it’s all thanks to a Supreme Court ruling.
Long live our judiciary, say I.

They are voices of sanity, amidst all that self-serving political babble.

Take their recent pronouncement on all those politicians and civil servants, all those netas and bureaucrats, who so love the good pampered life in Delhi that when they retire or lose an election, they simply refuse to move out of their official accommodation.  The trappings of office are so attractive that they conveniently forget that they are no longer in office, and so – not to mince words – they squat illegally.

Enter the venerable judges of the Supreme Court.

Vacate or get your pension docked.  Move out or get forcibly evicted.

(Ooh, how the mango people would love that spectacle…)

And, to show they mean business, the SC Judges have started with their own, showing no favouritism.  Supreme Court and High Court Judges must vacate official accommodation a month after retirement.  Government servants will be reminded three months in advance that they must vacate.

Between you and me, I don’t see why they even need so much latitude.  They all know they are retiring, right?  It hardly comes as a surprise. They all know well in advance that the day they finally stop going to the office is the day that the grace and favour house, the driver, the expenses, the bodyguards, the perks all cease?  Right?

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Heck, the British PM moves out of No 10 Downing Street on the very same day he/she loses the election.  So, it can be done.

Anyway, be that as it may, the SC ruling is a great step in the right direction.  What would be even greater, of course, is that our elected politicians and our civil servants, our judges and our income tax commissioners (yes, really, IT commissioners) all had the decency to move out of their own accord.

But let us not get too ambitious.

For now, we have a stern ruling.

And, potentially, another problem solved.

So, let’s hear it for the Supreme Court Judges and their trenchant good sense.

Now, I don’t suppose they have any equally good advice on summiting a 6,250m mountain…


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#Bureaucracy

#India

#Inshallah

#Ladakh

#Politicians

#SC ruling over accommodation

ABOUT AUTHOR

Christine Pemberton

Delhi-based travel & lifestyle writer, photographer, blogger.