Confessions of a Bureaucrat, a Memoir: Parimal Brahma


“Power corrupts. And absolute power corrupts absolutely!”
Everyone who comes in a fleeting contact with one of the countless tentacles of the government, gets to experience the rotten side of the powers that govern the people. It is anecdotal knowledge, if not personal experience, but no one believes otherwise. Then what is the use of a memoir that presents a collection of such anecdotes from inside the corridor of powers?
At worst, it can raise greed for illicit gains in the minds of those who strive to merely benefit by entering the system, either as a public servant working at one of the innumerable offices, or as public masters by taking the political route. Some could even try to become deal-makers and brokers of various shades.
Over the years, actual decision makers, either senior bureaucrats or politicians, have devised complex network of favour-trading and mutual benefits, through affiliations of innocent excuses or firmly established systems of graft extraction. At the mildest-end a favour could be simply accepting the innocuous gifts in kind or overlooking motivated behaviour of a colleague. At the extreme end it could be brazen initiation and participation into creating new modes of extortion from outsiders (or public coffers). Newcomers into the system are often shocked to witness the reality and soon have to take a decision to either join the party, stay aloof (and deprived) or make a hasty exit! Meanwhile the nation continues to suffer, along with few honest, upright officials who somehow manage to hang onto their integrity and wits, while waiting to complete their career without a blemish.
By opening a small window through the life of a ‘misfit’ career bureaucrat, Brahma has actually presented a unique opportunity for turning these episodes into a detailed study that can come up with cures for the ailing system:
Students of journalism can use it to understand how system gets subverted
Investigative journalists will be able to construct the big picture and track elaborate networks of favour-trading
RTI activists will be able to frame more effectively targeted questions to establish channels of information
Lawyers with public interest would be able to raise the right points in the courts
Constitutional experts will be able to understand the growth of rot and come up with ways to plug the loopholes
Civil societies and NGOs will be able to better comprehend real motives and delays behind tardy status of public projects
As far as honest aspirant for bureaucracy is concerned, such an account will help them mentally prepare for the system and steel their resolve to clean-up from inside. It will be like a morality vaccine! May your breed grow to populate the whole system soon.

Book review by Anand Gupta.
311 pages, Authors Press: Rs. 500.




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