A scathing view of red-tape corruption

Thursday, 26 May 2016

Syed Mahbubur Rashid

Gods of Corruption
By Promilla Shankar (I.A.S. Retd) Published by Manas Publications  (We convert
fighters into writers) New
Delhi- 110002, India

Promilla Shankar joined the Indian Administrative Service (I.A.S) in 1976 and was allotted to the Uttar Pradesh cadre. Her husband P. Umer Shankar was also an I.A.S and belonged to the same batch.
Promilla Shankar worked in a great number of ministries and departments. During the life-span of a service, a person is not supposed to work in such a large number of offices as she did. Even in some cases she worked for a few weeks at some. On reading her book it seems that she was uncompromising, undaunted and unapologetic. Once she had thought a matter to be proper and legal, she would take her firm stand on it assuming the attitude --- come what may. She has shown her courage in writing the book with such a bold title, and it is a manifestation of her financial honesty and integrity.   In the book she has identified corruption as the single largest reason hampering the development of India. She says, "Greed for speedy acquisition of money and a desire to become rich overnight has taken over and reigns supreme. Idealism has disappeared. An honest person is looked upon as a fool to be pitied and sidelined."
Her writing is not confined to her personal career. She has made some wide remarks about other social ills. Regarding the VIP culture she says, few countries have the VIPs or the very 'important persons' culture "that we have in India. The citizens of India are not equal. They are either ordinary citizens or VIPs." This is also applicable to India's neighbours.
A country can claim to be well governed if there is a rule of law. India is lagging precariously as it appears from the comments by Promilla Shankar. Some of her comments run like this: We are an undisciplined people and consequently India is an ill governed country. A very large member of citizens have no fear or respect for the rule of law. Their experience over the years have made them believe that everything can be managed with money,

power and connection and they, therefore, take full advantage of the rampant corruption.
It is clear from the book that the author is extremely obstinate, but still her writing gives the readers an inner view of the Indian bureaucracy. India achieved independence almost seventy years ago and always remained under democracy. I.A.S formerly known as I.C.S was introduced by the British rulers. At the early stage, the members of the Indian Civil Service were British, and they considered themselves as the representatives of the crown. They were haughty, anti-people, luxurious and self-centred. After reading this book by Promilla Shanker, it appears that there has not been much change in the tradition of their behaviour, although I.C.S. has become I.A.S and all its members are Indians.
In 1996 there was a drought in UP and the prices of wheat sky-rocketed: In view of this crisis the government decided to embark on a scheme of marketing flour at controlled rate. The author was Commissioner of Food, UP, at that time. So she was to immediately start the project. But one S.N. Shukla, Principal Secretary at the Food Department, personally wanted to see a sample of the ration card which was being printed. He then desired that the face of a famine-stricken person be embossed on the card. When it was so done, he commented that the face did not represent an exact famine-stricken person. An extremely important issue degenerated into a laughable thing. There are a number of incidents where the elite members of the I.A.S. have shown their peevishness. Some of them were extremely selfish, corrupt and capricious and highly vindictive in nature.
Casteism is a serious problem in India. The author has rightly mentioned it. But it is more severe than what is narrated in the book. Casteism is dividing the nation as stated by the author. The state power, economic power --- all these are in the hands of the people of superior classes. How are they behaving? Low-caste people are still burnt alive. The largest democracy in the world could not ensure justice to the lower-caste people. The author in her epilogue has placed hope in Narendra Modi. But how are the upper-caste BJP politicos  behaving with lower-caste people? Against the backdrop of the recent incidents, the author will probably rewrite the epilogue with her rays of hope dwindling away. The writer is deeply interested in the arts and culture and has brought out a coffee-table book titled 'Traditional Bridal Sharees of India'. She took up Tanjare painting and held an exhibition at the Lalit Kala Akademi. Her interest in the arts and culture is so deep that at the age of 58 she became a student of classical dance. The above reference is made because this is not in commensurate with her praise for Hindutva. Is Promilla a fan of Modi because his aim is to establish Hindutva for all Indians irrespective of caste, creed and religion? India is not a country of one religion. There are people other religions who prominently of the culture and history and glory of India.  The author is supposed to be intelligent enough to understand that the solo patronisation of Hindutva will destroy the country. However, Narendra Modi's cleanliness drive is praiseworthy because India is by far the 'filthiest country' in the world. Let Modi succeed in his cleanliness drive.
Promilla Shankar joined her service after graduating in history from Madras University. Problems, perils and the incidents narrated in the book are not surprising to us. Corruption is also the number one problem in Bangladesh.

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