Friday, February 23, 2007

Gems of my country

Shailesh is an Engineering graduate from MP, 5'9'' tall, is handsome with a distinct presence of his own, comes from a well to do family, even politically well connected. He is rash, blunt, well versed with current affairs and one with a distinct but studied opinion of his own on every issue. He has a great hold on Hindi Language and is particularly keen on Foriegn affairs of India. He is currently persuing an MBA from a leading (& I actually mean leading) B-School of India. He is also angry in general on a host of issues that touches today's India.

Devesh is an arts graduate from a small village in Bihar, speaks fluent and confident English in measured words, comes from a lower middle class family where the head of the family devoted his entire life to teach uninterested students affected by wretched poverty, His family has a younger sister whose marriage is his responsibility, has a devoted wife and a kid both of whom he adores.

Prince is another Engineering graduate who after his engineering received a call from various IIMs for GD/PI and finally achieved selection to IIM Calcutta. He joined the institute but left in a couple of months time because he received a call from the UPSC to appear in the mains exam. He is currently trying to get addmission into a top B-School again.

What is common to these three seemingly very different people - they all have burning desire to do something for the country and its people. All three dreamt of becoming an IAS officer. All three of them gave four of their best years to preparing and giving the exam. All three did not make it into the academy.

No, I am not saying that UPSC or the exam is corrupt or biased - in fact - I feel that generally they are not. But what the hell they deserve to be IAS just because they have raging fire to make a difference to their country and its people. No, they are not dumbos - they are sharp, one of them is currently doing his MBA at XLRI, another left IIM Calcutta for clearing UPSC and the third has calls from the best B-schools in India (XLRI, SP Jain, MDI, NITIE etc.). Why would government not want them in their teams ahead of a few who are possibly a notch better then them on subjects but may be no where near in their desire to make India a shining one. I believe that even if govt. does not have a post for them - they still need to be an IAS. They will make a difference because they want to do it from inside.

Something is fundamentally wrong with the concept of the IAS exam if we are unable to find out people with such desires and bring them in the main stream of our governance and administration.

Till then the Government's loss is private sector's gain. They are pursuing MBA so that they can still make a difference to a substantial part of the society by affecting those affected by their company or their profession. However, private sector wants profit and so they have twin objectives to meet at work. And I am not even talking about home. They are behind their cadres - they have lost four years to an excruciatingly slow process of evaluation where the decision on the first years process is taken after the person has already appeared in the next year's process and may have even cleared the first step to it.

While these three are still fighting - keeping the desire inside alive, not many has the same zeal. They capitulate to frustrations, some are confused beyond imagination, others live a meagre life and I know of some of them. Even these three need lot of counselling every now and then to refocus. They have a tendency to fall back into memories of those four years and in their weak moments they come out with lines like
"I know so many IAS officers - who know much less then I do"
"I still say that if I had become an IAS I could have helped so many people, my village, my area"
"Sometimes I feel that I have lost my life to the UPSC, today I do not offer even a decent life to my family when I compare them to families of my friends who graduated and joined jobs immediately"
"So many people join the IAS to earn money - so why won't they take me if I want to work for my country"

What can one suggest than a lame "you don't have to be an IAS to serve your country". But they deserve to be an IAS of my country - is somebody out there listening??