“Dikhayi kam diya karte hain, buniyaad ke patthar
Zamin me dab gaye jo, imarat unhi par kayam hai”
The civil servant is like foundation of a grand building that never gets the credit for the grandeur though this is the “steel frame” that holds the structure together. What gets to be known about the civil servant is what goes wrong. Very rarely does he get the credit for all that is happening. But that is what the civil service is all about. Slog it out invisibly. They are put to test, time and again, beyond the routine. From the earthquake in Gujarat to the floods in Kerala this “invisible” servant does it all but his contribution rarely gets recognised. It is only on some rare occasions that the Seshans and KPS Gills grab the limelight. However, this seems to be changing now. The social media seems to be bringing forth a new breed altogether. And why not?
The invisible civil servant is now becoming more and more visible in the ever evolving complex eco system. The jury is still out. Yet a number of civil servants are preferring to become visible. In the context of social media, the approach is pretty clear. Can’t beat them, join them. Whether it is Twitter, Facebook or on any other medium, a large number of civil servants have chosen social media to communicate with the world at large. The civil servant has been badgered far too long. It is high time that not only should social media be used to bring forth facts but the “achievements” also need to be “road-showed”. This is a part of the larger context to combat the negativity that seems to be becoming all pervasive. “Nexusofgood” is a movement in that direction. It is a movement to identify, understand, appreciate, replicate and scale good work that is being done by the civil servants and society as whole. The idea is to evolve an alternative narrative to the negativity that is becoming all pervasive in the social media and other mediums of communication. Such negativity is impacting the thoughts and actions of a large number of people. The “premium” on good work seems to have been lost in the din of high decibels used for promoting negativity. The “good” are struggling for recognition and a large number of them are fighting their battles against a much more organised set of “negativity mongers” all alone.
The quintessential bureaucrat, if there is one, is changing. The invisible civil servant is now attempting to come out of its cocoon. It should change. It can’t afford to remain in the “ivory towers”. It can’t afford to remain just the foundation. It has to make its presence felt. They key to it is how? Can the civil service evolve as a group and dispel the (mis)apprehensions that people have? To do that the members of the civil service will have to be aware of the pitfalls of promoting themselves as individuals. There is absolutely no doubt that most of the civil servants are individually bright and brilliant when they enter the service on account of the objective and impartial nature of selection to civil service. The problem is that a number of civil servants find it difficult to evolve as brilliantly as a part of a group. Hence, though a number of them make a name for themselves, the institutions they man do not get benefitted. In this sense, social media, or for that matter any media, is a double edged weapon. The key is how is that media used.
As we look around, there are a large number of institutions that are manned exclusively by civil servants and have done everyone proud. Election Commission, the Comptroller and Auditor General, the Union Public Service Commission and Central Vigilance Commission are some such institutions. Can civil servants commit themselves to replicate the ethos of these institutions? It may not be easy because the mentioned institutions are by and large insulated from political interference. Moreover, these are exceptions and not the rule. If most of the institutions acquire the ethos of these institutions, bureaucracy would not have the ‘name’ it has. It may be difficult to insulate institutions from political “interference”. But with the increasing use of technology and the consequent transparency, the “ill effects” of such interference can be mitigated. The political master can be induced to make a much more informed decision. He can be made aware of the implications of his decision in a much more aware world. A large number of brilliant and committed civil servants are already attempting to do that. Officers like Vivek Bhardwaj (putting in place a transparent and non-reversible regime for coal block auctions), Naresh Gangwar (bringing about a transformation in school education in Rajasthan), Dinesh Arora (now a part of Aayushman Bharat after successfully implementing Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana in Kerala) are making things happen despite serious limitations. Their stories need to be told so that the others believe that despite political, social, technological and financial handicaps, individuals can transform institutions. These officers are using their individual brilliance to bring about and sustain change. It can be done because it is being done. The key is to first appreciate the good work they are doing, understand how they are doing it and they try and replicate what they are doing. The civil servant does face a dilemma though.
“Muktar si zindagi ke ajab se afsane hain
Yaha teer bhi chalane hain, parinde bhi bachane hain.