Government servants in India are usually associated with their pomp and a sense of entitlement, which goes against the very essence of being in service of the Government and of the people. Occasionally one does come across some officers of merit, who hang on to their conscience and stay true to the real purpose of their position as a people’s servant. It is a sad reality that such officers are an exception to the rule. One such rare encounters with a duty-minded government official has prompted me to write this blog article today. I would not mention who the officer was and what it was that made him normal and humane. Yes, I meant normal. He was a good officer and I feel that it ought to be a norm. I do not want to see anything special in what should be the norm. Being an honest, conscientious and sympathetic citizen must be the norm and not an exception.
Indian societies often try to identify and honour people who are honest, duty-minded and those dedicated to a just cause. The saying goes that we value goodness when it shines amidst a sea of crookedness. Why it is that we as a society promote good people by praising their honesty, courage and duty-mindedness? We ought to leave them alone. We have tried promoting goodness forever and I don’t see any result. It is either there or it isn’t. If charity seeks charitable comments, then it is no good. It is as good as some large international companies promoting their so-called “good-side” by highlighting their charitable associations. You get a sense for people’s real motivation when you can see what it is that they have to gain by doing what they do.
Does the process of recognizing goodness, benevolence, talent, or achievements has any role at all in our society? I would be foolish not to recognize its importance. Such a process of recognition has immense value when it happens at a personal level. I recognized and appreciated the humane government official I came across. I wrote a few sentences in the feedback book to express my satisfaction with the way I was treated in his office. I tried to understand the officer’s motifs that made him give a sympathetic hearing to everyone that came to him. Why would he do it when nobody in his position has the patience to do it? Did he have an intention to be honest and sympathetic because it looked good and people praised him in return? Alternatively, did he do it because he did not know any other way of dealing with people? I hope to believe in the latter. It makes me feel good about myself. I must try to be honest here and it is hard!