The Bureaucratic Stereotypes

                I have completed over a decade of working in the Government. Over this period I have had the opportunity of closely observing the personalities and working styles of my colleagues and my seniors. I could not help noticing some basic stereotypes that characterize the overall approach to work of most bureaucrats. I hope this tongue-in-cheek exposition does not find its way to the men who inspired it!

The Jolly Good Fellow: I am in this job to lead a good life. I take great care of my comfort and that of my family and friends and indeed anybody who can exchange favours with me. Everybody loves me for my wit and my disarming smile. I am the life of all official meetings and parties as I make all ‘serious’ professional issues look so hilarious. The key to my success is my own little network. You must know a man in every key location. I don’t get bogged down by formal hierarchy. I speak directly to the man-on-the-spot. I am highly focused. The job has to be done at all costs as it is not mere work, it is personal. And don’t be fooled by the general good humour. I can get very vicious if you try to get in my way as I go about making life easy for myself and my gang. But I am sure we can all get along as ‘brother officers’ maximizing our clout by working together.

The Angry Crusader: When I joined the service I embarked on a lonely crusade. I am dead honest and I hate to compromise with my iron clad values. There is no middle path or gray area for me. It’s always an either or situation. Either you are honest or you are dishonest. Nobody can match my standards. I can’t stand most of my hypocritical colleagues. And I don’t shirk from telling them so to their face. I lock horns with my superiors, my colleagues and my subordinates, for all of them are just as corrupt. I am very competent, only the corrupt did not let me have an opportunity to prove the same. Nobody notices my steadfast honesty or the great contribution I have made to the system. So I don’t waste any opportunity to tell the world about it. It’s a rotten system but I will go down fighting.

The King: I am not a lowly cog-in-the-wheel. I am a lord and this appointment is my fiefdom. I am here to rule. I am not bound by petty procedures as I go about demanding and dispensing favours. I am sure everybody loves to listen to my exploits. My wonderful ideas. My grand plans.  But don’t be taken in by the style and flair. I can be caught prostrating in front of the powers that be. But then that is the name of the game! L*** above and kick below!!

The Don: We are all born to live a good life. It’s a mean world where dog eats dog and man eats man. But I write my own destiny. I have figured out all the rules of the game and I wield tremendous power through my own little caucus. I can’t stand the so-called honest people who are either hypocrites or are cowards or just plain dumb. I have powerful friends who know that they can count upon me. I can take you under my wing if you promise me your unquestioned allegiance. I don’t bother myself with harming anyone unless he comes in the way of my plans.

The Viper: I am the mean guy. I cheat, loot and lie all the time. I am a hypocrite and can give lengthy expositions on honesty, socialism and development. Everybody seems to have figured me out but I don’t care. Nobody messes with me as I am cold blooded and dangerous.

The Sahib Log: I am an officer and a gentleman. I have excellent taste and impeccable manners. I dress up perfectly and my diction is perfect. I am witty in a restrained manner. My office ends at 4.30 pm after which I must have my session of golf and refined socialising. I try very hard not to be patronising and generally maintain a polite distance from the world that has not had the benefit of a cultured and polished existence. It’s not important as to what you do in life, so long as it is done with style and finesse.

The Escapist: I am a cog-in-the-wheel. The system is too big for an individual to make a difference. I would be honest and productive if the system were to allow me to be so. See how good the systems in the West are? What can anybody do but be a part of this rotten system and make the most of it.

The Realist: I must teach you a golden rule to happiness. Your job is not the most important thing in your life. It only provides the means for your sustenance. Pursue other personal goals and interests in life. Become a health freak. Learn to paint. Take interest in your garden or your children’s education. Make your golf your obsession. Know the stock market. Do an honest day’s job and don’t carry your office to your home. The system shall remain what it always has been and don’t let it bother your health or happiness. 

The Mouse: This is a big bad world and one can’t be too careful. ‘They’ will fix you at the first opportunity. It’s safest to follow all rules and laws to the last letter even if it doesn’t get you or the system anywhere. It doesn’t pay to have too much initiative. One never knows when one’s extra enthusiasm will land him in trouble. Honesty is the best policy because it’s too dangerous to do anything else. But if honesty means getting into a confrontation with the powers that be, I try and pass on the buck to some foolhardy colleague of mine. I never get caught in a difficult situation. At worst, one can always report sick. My colleagues may think I’m yellow, but at the end of the day they will realize the wisdom of my timid ways.

The Survivor: I am a practical man. It’s good to be honest but within acceptable limits. One has to be a part of the system in order to change it for the better. I am competent and hardworking. I know when to take a stand and when to avoid a confrontation. I mean well. I am not a hypocrite and am upfront about my pragmatic approach.

The Mule: I am a loyal follower. I place complete trust in the wisdom and power of my superiors. I do whatever I am asked to do with great diligence. I have no use for attitudes or notions about right or wrong, as they only complicate life. I have always followed the orders of my boss and have steered away from trouble. My boss can always rely on me for my complete knowledge of Government rules, procedures, notifications and circulars.

The Loafer: What’s the big shit all about? Who has the time or energy to bother about this or that? Just remember to collect your pay cheque on time and anything else that this shitty job has to offer. Don’t bother yourself about all this muck about promotions or ACRs and what have you. Once you are in the Government no son-of-a-b**** can do anything to a shit-pot like me. So carry on partner!

The Doctrine of ‘Use of Minimum Force’

When I joined the police service one of the first things that we were taught during classes on crowd control was that we were to use the minimum force that was needed to disperse violent mobs. This essentially meant that we started with verbal warnings followed by tear gassing and if all failed then the crowd was to be lathi (baton) charged. We could resort to firing only if the mob posed a threat to human life. While it cannot be disputed that in a modern civic society the police cannot or should not subscribe to any other view yet practical experience in the field of grappling with violent mobs does force one to question the practicability of this approach. When confronted with a mob that is armed with lathis or iron rods and stones it is difficult to treat them as misdirected citizens who need to be convinced by use of minimum force. To the contrary one sees an irrational and dangerous animal that will not desist from opening up your skull with a well aimed projectile. Verbal warnings over the public address system lead to jeers and further raise tempers. Tear gas does not scare even the mildest mobs. Things invariably boil down to a lathi (baton) charge. A lathi charge by the police involves negotiating a stretch of a few hundred metres while under attack by a mob that hurls sharp edged stones and bricks at the very least. The charge invariably takes the wind out of half the police party with all the obese,the smokers, the unfit and the cowards in the party lagging behind. Some get injured on the way while others panic on seeing their colleagues fall and their numbers dwindle. When the police party establishes contact with the mob it’s charged with anger and fear. Then follows a brief period of man to man fight with each man keeping tabs on the probable outcome of the battle. Nobody wants to be trapped with the losing side. For if the rioter is left behind by fleeing accomplices he is likely to be thrashed and arrested by a victorious police party. And if a cop gets caught by a violent mob while his colleagues desert him and run for safety he is sure to be beaten up and even lynched. The task of the commander of the police party is to size up the potential of the mob before taking the decision to engage them. And once a lathi charge is on he has to lead with exemplary energy and ferocity. The police posse has to, for those brief moments get into the snarl mode to unnerve the mob and put it to run. The prerehearsed formations invariably don’t work or last on the field. And nothing counts more than the confidence and courage of those leading the charge. At that moment if the commander waivers and is bothered by the doctrine of minimum force or by fear of magesterial enquiries a rout is inevitable. You either run for cover or make them run for cover. That’s the way it works in the live situation. A failed half-hearted lathi charge invariably leads to police firing and charges of excesses. For once the mob gets the police on the run it goes berserk with the adrenalin and the euphoria over winning and indulges in arson and looting. It’s fear, raw fear for physical safety that discourages mobs and nothing else.

Bizarre Thoughts on Creation

It has been theorized that the universe starts from a compact whole with a big bang throwing all matter into space. Galaxies, stars and planets are formed as matter is hurled through space farther and farther apart. The universe is expanding. Then it starts compacting again until everything falls back into a single whole. Maybe, a black hole eats up all. The process is like an unending game. All matter is governed by and behaves as per certain basic laws or rules. Sometime after the Big Bang the existing set of rules lead to the creation of intelligence or ‘Mind’ at one or more locations. The task for the Mind or collective intelligence is to figure out the underlying rules that govern the cyclical expansion and contraction of the Universe before it (the Mind, that is) gets snuffed out by the collapse of the universe into the single whole. Intelligence grows or evolves over time and space. It is racing against time. It has to crack the mystery before time runs out. If it cracks the rules maybe it can stop the cycle and evade destruction and become ‘God’. That is, take charge of the Universe from the hands of ‘God’. Thus, Mind is a unique entity which while being made up of matter and being governed by all the laws that govern matter, yet holds the potential for understanding and rewriting these fundamental rules. Mankind and all its striving is only a path in the evolution of intelligence. ‘God’ watches this drama or battle as it unfolds cycle after cycle until a new God (erstwhile ‘Mind’) emerges and starts its own version of creation and destruction, its own game. Thus universe or matter falls into the control of a series of Minds or Gods.