– Dr C.K. Mathew, IAS (Retd)
How good men respond to the pressures placed on them in the discharge of their duties is a matter of much discussion and debate. We know examples of how some of them keep their heads afloat in times of acute stress by their sheer transparent honesty and their never say die habits. They are not negative, but they will block all methods that the dark forces will attempt to unleash on their heads by firmness, tact and undying resolve. They are not unsympathetic to those who need sympathy, but they can be cold and unyielding on those who make a bid for such treatment when they do not deserve it. They are like a stone wall, when devious and sinister designs are attempted to be brought into play by the ungodly.
But where the objective is sound and the proposals under study are in the larger interests of the people for whom it has been prepared, you will never find them wanting in the expeditious clearance of the proposal.
The real tragedy is that such persons are, more often than not, regarded as standing in the way of real progress and forward movement, obstacles in the march of the nation! This is indeed a dichotomy that the modern bureaucrat will have to address if he is to make a success of his career. And such issues do not normally find any solutions in the rule book or the financial manual.
What, for example, should he do when the lowest bidder is a crook and most liable to defraud the government by the ridiculously impractical bid he has quoted? Or when the most competent bidder, with the best chance of executing the project perfectly, has quoted a price that is realistic but is not the lowest? Can you err in favour of what should be the right course of action, even though the rule book does not permit it? What do you do when your attempts to oust a rogue of an officer from a particular job where he is looting the public, does not yield success. Or when the logic you presented on a file for a particular course of action is shot down because it does not suit somebody else’s grand designs? Or, if the motive for taking a particular decision, is not public interest but personal profit? How does a good man, or woman, stymie these malicious efforts? Should you too start to play games in such a manner that they are paid back in the same coin? In other words, do the ends justify the means?
These and a thousand other questions plague the virtuous man each day of his life. It is not necessary that he finds solutions on each occasion when he faces a moral crisis. Many a time there are no solutions: and yes, he may have to reluctantly agree to a particular decision though his heart tells him that it is not the right thing to do. But in the balance, the dominant prevailing directive within him is guided by good action and right conduct.
These few good men and women– and believe me, they are out there, perhaps not recognised, perhaps not in the lime light – are the ones who keep the earth turning on its axis. There is grudging respect for them even from their remorseless enemies, the forces of evil. It may sound inane and platitudinous, but these good people constitute the moral fabric of the stuff of governance. Remember, the struggle is not without, but within. For them the titanic wars of the soul, the raging battles in the heart. To them we owe our salutations.