New Delhi. Having learnt that a clerk at DMC had hired a personal assistant for himself, our correspondent decided to interview him at the DMC office. He was made to wait for quite a long time by a man, whose desk name plate read, Executive Assistant. It was only after explaining that he was there to interview the aforementioned clerk, that the Executive Assistant budged.
Ram Babu (an alias, as he doesn’t want his name to be disclosed), a senior clerk at the Delhi Municipal Corporation was in severe depression learning that he won’t be promoted to ‘section officer’ while his retirement was due in 2 years. “My parents had misrepresented my age by 2 years on my birth certificate, so that I could serve longer on a job. My officialdom would have swelled their chests in pride. I have always looked forward to fulfilling their vision, but things were going sideways. My dreams of being referred to as bade babu went right out the window”, said Ram Babu.
Ever since he took up his job, he had dreamt of making supplicants wait in long queues while he would pretend to be busy, surrounded by his minions, who would bow to him in servitude. He would have felt joy in the hopelessness and frustration of people who required some paperwork at his office. When asked if he was sadistic, he replied, “No, no. The way I see it, it’s human nature. I’m entitled to power by the virtue of my position”.
Ram Babu’s anxiety was increasing day-by-day, as it was clear to him that his dream won’t be realized. He was distressed, so he sought therapy sessions from a good psychiatrist. “The kickbacks we receive ensure that I can afford hospitals of the likes of Medanta Medicity now”, smirked Ram Babu. “The shrink recommended that I should do something to realize my dream. He recommended paying a peon to show me servitude. But I had a better idea; I hired a personal assistant whom I pay myself. His job-responsibility is to act as a yes-man at my command, and to make people wait while I pretend to be busy. He also does things that I don’t deign to do. Some people at my office resisted as they felt envious, so I bought my PA new furniture, and office insignia. I’ll not let anything come in the way of making myself feel important.”
When asked why he thought his sense of entitlement was OK, he replied, “Think of me as a concierge. I would take a small facilitation-fee from you to ease your way through the head-spinning tangle of red-tape and bureaucratic inertia. Government jobs are jobs-for-life. Whether we choose to fulfill our duties or not, has been left entirely to our discretion. Rather than deal with stone-faced functionaries of bloated bureaucracies, you can get your work done a lot faster. You don’t need friends in high places to get work done, as long as you’re willing to opt for our services”.
Our correspondent asked if Ram Babu was afraid of the new central government, which claims to oppose corruption. “Regimes change, we don’t”, Ram Babu wisecracked. “If they really wanted to change the system, they would have computerized our work processes, so that no one has the excuse of taking time in moving physical files around. And more importantly, files wouldn’t be lost or burnt in fires. But they didn’t do anything, did they?”
Our correspondent had to leave after Ram Babu’s ‘Executive Assistant’ arrived with a ‘customer’, who required some documents.