Hand in Glove with Corruption: How safe are we?

Edited by Aruna Nidamarthy

“This weekend is gonna rock!” Ayushmann was busy with guest list confirmations to celebrate his 21st birthday at the Rooftop Restaurant. “What a way to bring in a Birthday!”, Trisha exclaimed, “A complete view of Pune on the Rooftop, lights glimmering like diamonds, retro music by DJ Kay! Looking forward to a fantastic party with all our friends. ” There was an excitement in the air, even though the horrid disaster of the Kamla Mills fire was highly likely to be on the top of their minds, the press still reporting on it, the guilty yet to be brought to book and the saddest part- obituaries are being written for people who lost their loved ones just because the restaurants in Kamla Mills lacked an appropriate process of safety audits and checks.

It is time for us to put our heads together and analyse where the people who run our administration come from.

Almost everyone agrees that the exam to be cracked to become an IAS or IPS officer is one of the toughest exams in the world; normally a person dedicates four or five years of his life to crack the exam. Many aspirants with a dream in their eyes usually head to the Capital, known for its coaching centres and the “right environment,” for this vocation.

But staying motivated until the time they actually crack the Civil Services exams remains a tough task for most of the aspirants. And the challenge grows tougher with every passing year and with every failed attempt. There are stories of aspirants from humble backgrounds; wards of poor farmers, single parents and financially tough situations.

A typical diary of our Bureaucrats can be tracked down to:

“When you get older you start to mistrust yourself after 2 failed attempts in clearing the exam, you cannot concentrate for as many hours as you could earlier. All of your friends would have moved on. All the people I grew up with have successful careers. One best friend is an army Captain on his way to becoming a Major, another good friend is in Germany making money. My father is retired but still partially supports my dream to become a civil servant. At the end of the day, I want to have power and status in my career and would like to fight corruption.”

It is a fact that some aspirants are attracted towards civil services due to some myths- the incentives and royal image. They know a few officers or they have caught wind of a few officers who have made millions. When they join these services, they find that there is no extra earning for the job they are in. This is where the mission statement of fighting corruption gets traded.

A few posts on the internet, dissuading IAS as a career choice read, “At first glance, it would seem that not very many are morally good. Some people, during preparation talk against corruption, once they get into service they change. If you want to become an honest IAS officer, then you have to deal with many shortcomings in the career due to honesty from getting not top posts to being threatened by politicians. Aspirant should understand the essence of the term “civil servant”. Only then can one can succeed in this profession. Daily, new circumstance emerges, issues manifest, and the Civil Servant must be set up to meet the circumstance and tackle the issue.”

Our Bureaucrats have the power to grant licenses for whatever we enjoy, be it the safety audit of a Cinema Hall, a Mall or a Restaurant. This seems like a very large compromise on our safety in this country if our administration has not learnt lessons from the Uphaar Cinema tragedy which took place much before I was born. Does this systemic failure stem from the tough life of our Bureaucrats or the screening system to be an IAS officer needing an overhaul. Governance is the need of the hour!

Hope we as management students disrupt this space. Maybe, apps like Zomato and Bookmyshow can add a rating widget to the safety parameter of a restaurant or a movie hall or even a mall. These reviews may urge the Administrative Class to enhance their vigilance systems, to provide us safer lives in our country.

“If you put good people in bad systems, you get bad results. You have to water the flowers you want to grow”- Stephen Covey.