Monday, June 9, 2014

Helicopter Parents

Disclaimer: This article does not aim to promote stalking and staring in any sense. Just simple plain humor. No offence to the women community, I have nothing but respect for you!

So when I willingly decided to get a Master's degree in Public Administration from Indira Gandhi National Open University (I.G.N.O.U), I had no idea I was in for a big big surprise. When I reached my test center, that premises was flooding with ladies. For a moment I could not believe that our nation was having a skewed sex ratio. I almost felt like the way a lone women would feel on a crowded platform with smelly men wavering post midnight drooling full throttle.

After losing my senses for a while, it then occurred to me that this was a M.A exam. Something where you would find more women. This is not the small-town school I went to where people were still apprehensive about sending their daughters out. This is not IIT Kharagpur where you would see a female once in a blue moon and to top that she would rather turn out to be a non-male rather than a female. Kharagpur folk would be able to empathize with the aforesaid assertion. And this was surely not the campus of some paramilitary organization. But still all this seemed like a fairy tale and I feared that I would wake up any damn second.

But soon I got to my senses and moved past them with great difficulty. It's not my fault. I have never been at a place with such gigantic sex ratio. All of them drowned in their books and oh so nervous about a IGNOU exam where questions are so easy and predictable that even Pappu would pass with flying colors. Okay, I think I took it too far, not with flying colors perhaps. Among them there was one in a pink Salwar-suit. I don't know why she was there. She deserved to be at someplace better. I mean oh so beautiful. I think the couple of guys present there were all looking at her. And just when we thought that perhaps we could go to her and make small talk, out of nowhere came this huge old man and stood just in front of her blocking everything we had at our disposal. It was her father perhaps. Oh, and when I used "we" I meant all the boy fraternity present there and I speak for all of them as I am more than sure they felt the same way. It's a boy thing, you know!

But then there were other girls as well, so we felt that we not loose our morale over just one failure. And then it was Deja vu all around that school campus. All of them came with their parents. Most of them with their fathers who looked more like a Z level security commando constantly scanning the surrounding for possible signs of staring. They were everywhere. Getting them water, getting them juices, checking their roll numbers. I mean C'mon, give us bachelors a chance!

But on a serious note, yes yes "Serious", I do not like these Helicopter parents who hover around their grown up children and follow them like guards. I simply do not like parents coming with their "adult" children to entrance exams, especially those of beautiful single girls. Okay sorry, but that is the way it is. And it is not just about our inconvenience. They crowd up the place blocking space. They increase the panic levels in their children just by being there. And then at the end they wait outside the door with so much of expectation in their eyes, that it becomes difficult to take a sigh of relief post the exam. I find it hard to believe that why would graduates need the company of their parents to such exams. Moreover, I have seen parents coming to civil service exam with a pooja thali for crying out loud. I have nothing against the love and care they have for their sons and daughters but for God's sake please let your children grow up!

Sunday, June 1, 2014

[Book Review] Crusader or Conspirator? * *

Author: PC Parakh
My Rating: 2/5

You know what the problem with former bureaucrats writing their memoirs is? Even though they have immense knowledge about the system, they know things only a privileged few know but they only know how to write notes on the files which move with that red flap around them, oh, red tape i meant! They do not know how to make the most of their experiences. They do not even consider that good language and word jugglery can give them added benefits and launch their second innings as a writer.

Whatever lets move on! So, this one presents the typical life of a bureaucrat in India. He enters the service with high hopes of overhauling the whole system but eventually is frustrated by the ubiquitous cob-webs of corruption. Then comes a phase in his life when he thinks of himself as an alien and the archaic virtue of integrity that he oh proudly displays. He feels lonely. He wants to break away from the shackles of this self-aggrandizing bureaucracy. But it would not let him go off so easily.

Parakh describes his various encounters with the corrupt throughout his postings and literally everywhere he goes. The good thing is he creates little chapters and avoids dragging them for long. But then at the end you feel like you are rather reading a collection of newspaper clippings about corruption ranging over a couple of decades. The language is mediocre and so is the presentation. And after a while you get that feeling that this is all the book would offer and the motivation to hang along diminishes after every page.

Looking at the positives, although not many i can see, the book offers a reality check to the civil service aspirants who think they would just walk in there and change the way things are going on. It would make them aware of the challenges that lie ahead of them. It will make you realize that only by reading all the ARC reports, you would not be able to reform the whole administrative system. Only by remembering the principles of Henry Fayol, one would  not be able to resolve the real time dilemmas of the bureaucracy. The book also offers an insight into the details of the coal ministry which ultimately lead to the much acclaimed Coalgate. Towards the end it also offers some details about the much sought after code of ethics for bureaucrats and politicians. All and all, civil service aspirants can pick this up to get a reality check. Not useful for others!

Quotes from the book...

"How can they be expected to stop corruption in their organization if they have to pay hefty bribes before their own appointment orders can be issued?"

"It was customary to make the most resourceful, and this the most corrupt, officer as the Tahsildar at the headquarters so that the desired quality of hospitality could be extended to the visiting VIPs."

"If the CAG is not to comment on the loss caused to the exchequer, then whose business is it in a parliamentary democracy?"

"Who said civil servants were rigid and inflexible? When their own interests are involved they can put a chameleon to shame."