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Training IAS officers to serve people

In “Babus vs netas” (Perspective, Sept 28) Air Marshal R.S. Bedi (retd.) has rationally brought out the shortcomings in the functioning of the civil services. The so-called steel frame of India of British days has become the biggest obstacle in the delivery of governance, especially the various aspects of developmental and social welfare initiatives like the NREGS, the Sarv Shiksha Abhiyan and others.

In view of rampant corruption and lack of accountability, these services have failed to come up to the expectations of people. In spite of glaring issues of corruption, inefficiency and maladministration, hardly any bureaucrat is taken to task effectively.

The power that they wield has resulted in stonewalling all recommendations for bringing about reforms. This immense power and authority has lured a number of highly qualified doctors and engineers, making them join civil services.

To properly indoctrinate these services, the recommended five-year training after Plus 2 does seem to be a better option as that way the officers can be ‘trained’ to serve the people and not themselves and politicians as is the case at present. A system of weeding out the inefficient and punishment for the corrupt, too, will ensure better performance for the welfare of people.

Brig. H.S SANDHU (RETD.), Chandigarh

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I support the writer’s core argument that “Power and pelf induce all, including doctors and engineers, to join the IAS, even belatedly. In fact, the idea of civil services was conceived by the British after they occupied a part of India (mainly after the Battle of Plassey in 1757 and the Battle of Bukshar in 1764) and started getting land revenue from Bihar, Bengal and Oudh or Avadh.

The English ICS officers, with the help of local zamindars (landlords), collected the land revenue. The salary of the Collector even 200 years ago was Rs 1,500 a month. The Britishers were able to rule over us because of a well-trained and motivated bureaucracy for 190 years. The system of bureaucracy in our country is, thus, nearly 250 years old.

Our IAS officers have to keep in mind the democratic aspirations of the common people and a genuine urge to help them realise their dream. Most of the British ICS officers were talented people and they devoted a lot of time in studying the geography, history and ancient culture of India.

They were respectable pen pushers also and have left several books on medieval and modern India. Unfortunately, most of our IAS officers have a great deal of “pelf and power” at their disposal but they seem to be still maintaining “an honourable distance” from the common people.

A lot more is expected from them as they are known as “people’s servants” as per the basic spirit of the Indian Constitution. Barring some honourable exceptions, they seem to be fond of the company of ministers than that of the common man’s. They must imbibe a democratic outlook.



Air Marshal R.S. Bedi (retd) has dwelt at length on the reforms needed in the administrative set up in our governing system but has said little about ‘netas’ as to how the quality of this tribe could be improved.

The onus of the rot that has set in our governing system has to be shared equally by ‘babus’ and ‘netas’. Then why pick on the ‘babus’ only and leave the ‘netas’ untouched? There is need for some recommendations to improve the quality of our ‘netas’, as the ultimate power rests with them.

As for early recruitment of young boys and girls into the cadre of administrators, the move may not prove as effective as Bedi envisions. If recruitment at young age could be the solution to bring about a qualitative change in the administrative system, they why would so many malevolent happenings take place in the higher echelons of defence services these days where entry into the commissioned ranks is done at a very young age followed by a rigorous training?

Thus, the solution has to be something else. To my mind, lateral entry of best talents at all levels into the cadre of administrators, giving importance to other services like doctors, engineers and scientists and making ‘babus’ and ‘netas’ accountable, would infuse a sense of commitment in the bureaucracy.

L.R. SHARMA, Sundernagar

Shah Jahan’s magnificent tribute to Mumtaz Mahal

Amita Malik’s “All about girls and girt” (Sat Extra, Sept 20) had wrongly mentioned the name of Noor Jehan instead of Mumtaz Mahal and so is the case with her inference that her memorial is probably the sign of repentance by her husband. The relevant portion of the article reads as under:-

“The film pointedly begins with a shot of the Taj Mahal. It will be remembered that Noor Jehan is said to have died of excessive child-bearing and her memorial is probably the sign of repentance by her husband...”

It was during the birth of their 14th child only that Mumtaz Mahal, the third wife of the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan, breathed her last. It is said that before here death, she obtained a promise from Shah Jahan that he would build world’s most beautiful monument in her memory. No one can vouch for the historical accuracy of her last wish, but Shah Jahan did build a magnificent monument in the shape of the Taj Mahal as a tribute to her life.

Sahir Ludhianvi gives a different interpretation to the construction of the Taj Mahal. According to him, through the construction of the monument, the emperor had, by virtue of his wealth, made a mockery of the love of the poor. “Ik shehanshah ne daulat ka sahara le kar ham garibon ki mohabbat ka udaya hai mazaak.”

The writer’s conclusion that the memorial is probably a sign of repentance is an historical aberration.




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