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Role of the Wicked

Sri Ramakrishna lived at a time when theatres were very popular in Bengal. Sometimes, Sri Ramakrishna himself used to visit them at the request of his devotees. Many of his devotees were connected with theatres as owners, actors or participants in allied activities. At Dakshineswar, in the company of devotees, the master often talked about theatres and drew many deep spiritual lessons from them. One such lesson was about the “Role of the Wicked”.

Many visitors to Dakshineswar used to ask Sri Ramakrishna about the evils prevailing in the society and the purpose served by them. Some of the devotees were themselves not very pious persons and indulged in all sorts of worldly activities. However, those who continued to live in the company of the Master grew fast and triumphed over their weaknesses. Those who did not, left his company and returned to their old ways. Swamiji was never upset at such happenings and gave full freedom to his devotees to choose their path. He confined himself only to revealing truth. Fortunate ones grasped it while others only laughed. He accepted both the responses with equanimity.

Whenever asked about the role of evil or the wicked, Sri Ramakrishna gave the example of a play on the stage of the theatre. According to him we all are actors on this worldly stage. Like a stage drama, we all play different roles on earth and once the drama is over, we return to our permanent abode. In a drama there are all types of roles. Someone plays the role of a hero and the other plays the role of villain. Both roles are equally important and the success of the drama depends upon both. The drama will lose all its charm if any one of them is absent.

The same is the case with the worldly drama also. Here, all kinds of people are required to make it dynamic and interesting. If we look at evil and wickedness from this viewpoint, all our fear, hatred or complaints against them will disappear. Instead, we shall have harmony with them also. Not only this, when seen this way, we shall find their roles as important as those of good persons.

This is how Sri Ramakrishna explained the ‘Role of the Wicked”.

By Rakesh K Mittal IAS on 14-11-2017
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Who Needs God?

I am closing this book with this lesson. Many years ago, I read a book titled Who Needs God? written by Harold Kushner, the author of a famous book called When Bad Things Happen to Good People. Since then I have been contemplating over the subject deeply, but frankly speaking, the true concept of God is still not clear to me. I think that it is a mystery for most. Everyone has his own perception of God and proceeds from there. Perhaps, God is not comprehensible for mortals like us. All my contemplation has led me to believe that there is a higher being like God whom we need sometime or the other. Even those who deny the existence of God think of Him, though in a different form.
I shall try to give an answer to the question ‘Who Needs God?’ and for this I quote a portion of the introduction from the book which goes like this: “I deal with bright, successful people, people I genuinely like and admire, and I sense that something is missing in their lives. There is a lack of rootedness, a sense of having to figure things out by themselves because the past cannot be trusted as their guide. Their celebrations, from their children’s birthday parties to a daughter’s wedding to a business milestone, can be lots of fun but rarely soar to the level of joy. And as they grow older, I suspect they either confront or actively hide from confronting the thought that ‘there must be more to life than this. “There is a spiritual vacuum at the centre of their lives, and their lives betray this lack of an organising vision, a sense of “this is who I am and what my life is fundamentally about.” Some look for that centre in their work, and are disappointed when corporations choose not to repay the loyalty they demanded or when retirement leaves them, feeling useless. Some try to it in their families, and don’t understand why they are so hurt when adolescent children insist, ‘Let me lead my own life!’ and adult children move to another state and call every other Sunday. And for some reason, it never occurs to them to ask, ‘How did previous generations find meaning in their lives?
‘For almost thirty years, I have tried to show my congregants how much more fulfilled they would be if they made room for their religious tradition in their lives. I have urged them to do it, not to make God happy but to make themselves happy. I have told them the Hassidic story of the man who got a telegram telling him that a relative had died and left him some valuable property. He was to contact the rabbi for details. Excited, he went to the rabbi, only to be told that the relative was Moses and the valuable property was the Jewish religious tradition. And much of the time, they reacted as I suspect the man in the story did, disappointed that their legacy was religious wisdom and not downtown real estate. “This book is the product of those years of thinking and teaching on the issue of what we lose when we become too intellectual or too modern to make room for religion in our lives. It is about what has happened to the souls of modern men and women under the impact of modern life, what we have lost in the process of gaining personal freedom and material comfort. But more than that, it is the summary of what my own life has been about, what has gotten me through bad times and taught me how to celebrate the good times, how I have learned to recognise the extraordinary things that even the most ordinary lives contain. “The thesis of this book is that there is a kind of nourishment our souls crave, even as our bodies need the right foods, sunshine, and exercise. Without that spiritual nourishment, our souls remain stunted and undeveloped. In the physical realm, we understand that our ancestors’ hard physical work built muscles and burned off calories, but today we are the victims of a modern lifestyle, so we need to diet, to jog, to work out at the gym. So, too, the kind of spiritual communion our forebears knew is less accessible to us because the world is so noisy and full of distractions, because we are so dazzled by our power and success, because religion in the late twentieth century is often badly packaged or presented by people we cannot trust or admire.” I feel that this extract is enough to convey my message. We all have some vacuum in our lives, howsoever fulfilled we may feel. It is only God who can fill this vacuum and make our lives meaningful. It is a different matter that some of us may fail to see or pretend not to see the vacuum, but all of us do need God.

By Rakesh K Mittal IAS on 08-11-2017
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God and The Government

For all rational people, God is the greatest mystery despite the fact that He is said to be omnipotent and omnipresent. It is also said that God is present in all things sentient as well as non- sentient. If it is so what is His form and where does He live? This is a question which comes and should come to every thinking mind. Most of us accept God in the form, our mind has been trained to believe by our observation of family and social traditions. Some form their opinion by the study of books both authentic and not so authentic. No wonder God is conceived in different forms by different people resulting into more and more confusion. I have myself been quite confused about the concept of God and have contemplated a lot on the subject. In this brief write up I am trying to narrate the outcome of my contemplation on God.
In India, most of the people still believe in personal Gods. For them God has a definite form either human or non-human. They believe that God is a kind of super ruler and behaves that way. He has the power of rewarding as well as punishing. People also believe that God can be pleased by their external acts and in order to seek His blessing they indulge in all sorts of rituals. If their wishes are granted fully or partially they feel that the God is kind and just. But if their wishes are not granted despite their rituals, they even call Him cruel and unjust. Those who think rationally refuse to accept such an arbitrary God and in the process stop believing in the existence of God itself. I feel that this write up may be helpful for them though I also feel that many such rational people must have their own concept of God. The problem is further compounded by the fact that God is invisible through external senses and any discussion about Him can only be appreciated at level higher than that of senses. With this background let me speak about my concept of God.
According to me God is akin to a Government. As a Government runs the administration of a country or a province or a district, in the same way God also runs the administration of the Universe. We must appreciate that there are laws of Universe which have to be followed or complied with properly. If it is not so there shall be greater disorder and the living will become impossible.
There has to be some power which must be controlling all these laws of the Universe. I feel that God is this power and that is why it is called omnipotent. However, here omnipotent does not mean to be arbitrary. Such a great power like God can never be arbitrary. God's purpose is to ensure that Universal laws are followed by everyone and if there is any defaults, corrective action is taken accordingly. We may call such actions by any name like punishment or cruelty but God does not inflict them with any such intention. He only ensures the enforcement of laws in order to run the Universe. Similarly there is no such thing as reward and everyone only reaps the fruits of his or her actions. This way God is the most neutral entity which neither distributes any awards or inflicts any punishment but only ensures that everyone gets his due. There may be phase difference between our timings and His timings and that is why at times there is delay in the system of awards or punishments. Some of us may interpret it as God's injustice or arbitrariness but the fact is that virtue is always rewarded and evil is always punished. While there may be exceptions and failures in the system of human Government, there is no such chance in God’s Government. Thus while God is all powerful, His exercise of power is governed by fixed Universal laws and there can be no arbitrariness. This way God is very much like an ideal Government, which is supposed to make laws and ensure their compliance in order to run the society smoothly.
Now we come to the omnipresence and invisibility of the God. For this also we have to understand the nature of the Government. After all whom do we call Government in a geographical unit be it a country, a province or a district. If we think deeply no single person can be called Government and whosoever is carrying out the function of the Government, he or she is the Government at that place. It may be a Minister, a Collector, a Police Official, a Tax Official, a Peon or any other functionary of the Government. While the nature of their jobs or level of powers may vary, but all of them perform the duty of the Government at their respective places. This way Government instead of being concentrated in a single person is spread in all its constituents. This is not the case only with sentient constituents, it is so with non-sentient components also. That is why a vehicle, a piece of furniture and all the articles belonging to a Government office also become part of the Government.Seen this way, Government is something which is manifested in all its constituents while as a single entity it is always invisible.
The same thing applies to God. God being the Government of the Universe is also manifested through all its creation sentient as well as non-sentient. Whatever God does is through its constituents only. When God helps someone, He does so through some of its creature and also when He punishes some of us, He does so through some different creature. Thus the whole system of creation is so interwoven that each of the units carries out the function of God only. This is perhaps each creation is said to be a part of God only and one who sees God in all is Godly in true sense. This way God is nothing but the sum total of the creation and that is why it is called “Paramatma” while its constituents are called “Atmas”. Since the creation of God is present everywhere, God is also omnipresent. Also God is so subtly present in its creation that it is not possible to see or experience Him easily. That is why it is Invisible to most of us.
Somehow I find that this explanation of God clarifies all possible doubts about Him. Hence I am sharing it with others. However, everyone is entitled to his or her own version of God. Surely it does not affect the reality and God will continue to be what It is. To me it only shows that God is really incomprehensive for little minds like us and even we all together fail to describe God in totality.

By Rakesh K Mittal IAS on 25-10-2017
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When You Grow Wise

In November 1993, I was appointed as a Central Observer of the Election Commission for the Himachal Pradesh Assembly Elections. Just before leaving for my first visit to the state, I developed a severe pain in my wisdom tooth. I consulted a senior dentist who advised immediate extraction of the tooth and called me the next day. I was not prepared for this because I didn’t want to lose the tooth so early. Though I had crossed 44, my teeth had been in a good condition. So I consulted another dentist friend who advised me to wait for some time more as the pain could be managed with the help of medicines. Somehow the election duty was carried out without much difficulty.The problem became acute once again next year and this time again, the dentist advised extraction of the wisdom tooth. He told me that there was no function of wisdom teeth after a certain age and that I need not be unduly concerned about losing one of them. I wanted to know the reason for these teeth being called wisdom teeth. He told me that these teeth grow after crossing the teens, i.e., in the early twenties and generally have to be removed in the forties. This information was enough for me to contemplate over the matter and I arrived at certain conclusions which I am going to share here. Human Life has always been divided in four phases. In our scriptures these phases are called ‘Brahmacharya’, ‘Grastha’, ‘Van Prastha’ and ‘Sanyasa’, respectively. Assuming an ideal lifespan of 100 years each phase comes to about 25 years. However, in real life, a good lifespan may be taken as about 80 years.  So each phase of life is of about 20 years. The first phase of life, ‘Brahmacharya’, is a phase of restraint and learning. Those who wish to acquire anything in life have to remain disciplined and work hard during this period. The full meaning of life is hardly understood in this period. In a way it is good also. If life is understood in totality during this period, perhaps the urge to learn and acquire knowledge would be lost. Acquisition of mundane knowledge during this period is essential to successfully live the subsequent phases of life. This phase is like the running of an aeroplane on the ground before take-off. If sufficient speed is not acquired on the runway, the plane cannot take off and at times may meet with an accident.
The second phase of life is the most difficult one and can be compared to the take-off of an aeroplane. During this phase, one has to rise above the ground and achieve worldly success.  Maximum energy is consumed during this period and the knowledge acquired during the first phase of life is to be applied. One comes across a variety of experiences and we gain maturity and wisdom as a result of these interactions. While in the first phase of our life, one only acquires knowledge and remains on ground, in the second phase one acquires wisdom and gains height. That is why the wisdom teeth grow only in the early twenties. Their appearance thus indicates that the time for acquiring wisdom has come. The acquisition of wisdom has also to come to an end. A period of 20-25 years in the second phase of life should be sufficient for a person to understand life fully and to acquire wisdom. It is like acquiring full height by an aeroplane during a flight. After acquiring this height, there is no need of going higher and the acquired height should be enjoyed. In human life this stage should reach at the age of 40-45 years and one should be able to grow fully wise by this time. At this stage, there is no need of wisdom teeth and that is why they are no more required. I feel that this could be the reason behind these teeth being called wisdom teeth.
Having grown wise, one enters the third phase of life. For a truly wise person life should become smooth in this phase and he should be able to enjoy it like an aeroplane journey in the third stage.  There is no need of any imposed restrictions in this phase and the gains of life are to be shared. A wise person should share his acquisitions including wisdom for his inner expansion as the outer expansion is no more required. If one does not share, in all probability he is heading for a miserable fourth phase of life.
The fourth phase of life is like the landing of an aeroplane. In this phase the acquired height is to be lost in order to land safely. If it is not done, a crash is inevitable. It means that a time comes in life when even wisdom has to be transcended. After all, in this cycle of birth and death, there are others in the queue and one should voluntarily make way for them. If one does not do so, he will either be pushed or crushed. A truly wise person should avoid this situation. That is why this phase of life is called ‘Sanyasa’ ashrarn. One has to give up everything for a happy end. Thus the four phases of life are the phases of acquiring knowledge, acquiring wisdom, sharing wisdom and transcending wisdom. 

By Rakesh K Mittal IAS on 19-10-2017
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Most Worthy Son

I came in contact with my spiritual master in the year 1991 in Delhi. With him were two young disciples who were married to each other. Both of them were highly qualified and were in the process of taking full sanyasa. The husband was an Assistant Professor at IIT Kharagpur while the lady used to teach at the Kolkata University. In fact, their association with Swamiji was a great assurance for me which reinforced my faith in him. In due course, both of them took full sanyasa and devoted themselves to spiritual service of the society. The younger Swami was named Swami Nirvisheshananda, nicknamed as Naya Swamiji. His parents lived in the steel town of Jamshedpur where his father was an engineer. After retirement he had settled down there only. A few years later, I got posted at Kolkata as Development Commissioner, and in that capacity, I visited Jamshedpur a few times.
On one of these visits, I was keen to meet Swamiji. My curiosity was to know the impact of Naya Swamiji’s sanyasa on his father. Normally it is believed or assumed that if a young son turns to sanyasa and that too after marriage, it must be a kind of shock for the parents. With this background, I visited Naya Swamiji’s home at Jamshedpur. His father had a very pleasing personality and received me very affectionately. Naya Swamiji’s mother was also there. After initial pleasantries and some professional discussions, I came to the question I had in mind. When I asked as to how he responded to the sanyasa of one of his sons, who had settled so well in life, he had no hesitation in saying that he was proud of him. He also added that he considered him to be the most worthy son. While his other sons had brought only money and fame to him, this son of his brought him true glory and salvation. I was highly influenced by his feelings and realised the true impact of spiritual life.
India is a country which has countless spiritual seekers. In them lies the true greatness and glory of this country. Science has to rediscover this dimension of human personality if its gains are to be deployed for human welfare in the true sense. The ultimate goal of human life, which is peace and happiness, is possible only when science and spirituality play a complementary role in our life.

By Rakesh K Mittal IAS on 04-10-2017
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Diving in the World Ocean

On April 1995, I had a
chance to visit the Mumbai High oil drilling site, about 200 km away from the seashore. It takes almost an hour to reach there by a helicopter. From the engineering point of view, the whole operation is amazing. The fixation of the drilling rigs and platforms is an engineering feat. The foundations of these structures are very deep in order to keep them stable. I met some engineers who had worked there in the initial days of construction and they narrated their experiences with great pride, expressing the thrill of achievement. They also told me that the foundation construction of these structures was the most difficult stage and to carry out this task, expert divers were called from other countries.

I was told that deep-sea diving is a difficult job and a good amount of training was required for it. As the pressure of water increases proportionately to the depths of the sea, a diver has to take precautionary measures to withstand the stress. I was told that in earlier days, the training process took a long time as the divers were subjected to gradually increasing pressure before they could venture deep into the sea. Now, there are special equipments which create sea conditions
artificially and the process of training is expedited. However, the principle of training remains the same, which is to create enough internal resistance or pressure to withstand the external pressure. If the diver does not do this, his
body could collapse. I have drawn some very interesting inferences from this fact.

The world we live in is also like a sea. The deeper we go into it the greater are the disturbing forces we have to face. If we are not trained or used to bear these pressures, we collapse and fail to achieve the goal of our existence. We forget the nature of the world and the fact that there is no use blaming external circumstances. We should, on the other hand, train ourselves to withstand the pressures of the world. For this, we have to develop enough internal strength so that the two neutralize each other and we are able to dive into this worldly sea like professional divers.

In real life it means that one’s development should be appropriately integrated. The bigger is the external growth the
greater is the need for internal growth too. That is why people with high positions, greater riches, greater fame, or power should be much more balanced than ordinary persons. If they are not so, the outer trappings may become the cause
of their disaster. A balanced growth of personality makes us good divers, plunging confidently into this worldly sea.
The world will then cease to be a source of danger or trouble for us and we can enjoy living in it, as well as performing  our duties well.

By Rakesh K Mittal IAS on 18-09-2017
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The Mathematics of Life

I remember an incident in early 1979 when I was posted as Additional District Magistrate at Meerut. Once the Commissioner of
the Division visited the district and I accompanied him on his tour. The visit went off very well and he was quite happy with the work done. In the evening, we were returning in the same car on our way to Meerut. The Commissioner was a very good man and the success of the tour gave me some courage to speak frankly during the journey. At that time I was a young officer with only three years of service and was unaware of many realities of public administration. However, I was aware of the interference of vested interests in administration, as a result of which most officers were not able to work fearlessly.  So I asked him certain questions about this aspect, curious to know whether it was possible for an honest and sincere civil servant to work fearlessly despite outside pressure. The answer was, naturally, not that simple but he said that though it was definitely possible to work fearlessly it required a lot of wisdom and other virtues like ability and perceptiveness, for an honest and sincere civil servant to reach that stage. The matter ended there but the question occupied my mind for a long time.

As far as I can introspect, I have always tried to work sincerely and honestly. I was not troubled by people who had vested
interests, as most of the time I could get my way through them. Having completed over thirty five years of service and reaching the age when one should acquire enough wisdom to look at life in its true perspective, I feel that life is like mathematics and the problems of life are similar to the problems of mathematics. If the fundamentals of life are understood, then life’s problems can also be faced easily. In that case, life becomes a pleasure and its difficult problems only add to the pleasure of living. In brief, I would say that life is a wonderful opportunity for elevation and it should not be wasted on mundane affairs only, just as the purpose of mathematics is not merely to pass the examination but to understand and apply its principles in life.

The purpose of life should be understood in its true sense and it should be taken as an opportunity for achieving its goal.
With that clarity in the mind, the difficulties attached to life become very small and add to the pleasure of living. Such people score high in the mathematics of life without much difficulty. In worldly terms, there may be more prosperous persons around them but when it comes to the examination of life, it is they who secure the highest marks. And all this happens effortlessly. Let us first accept the simile of life with mathematics and feel the urge to understand its fundamentals. Once we have the urge, we will find the way and help will come from unexpected sources. No doubt, a sustained effort is required on our part, but once the process of understanding is over, life becomes scoring as well as enjoyable, like the subject of mathematics. We can then easily aim to score cent per cent marks, no matter how difficult the paper is.

By Rakesh K Mittal IAS on 06-09-2017
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False Ceiling

I served as Managing Director of the UP Handloom Corporation during the year 1987-88. At that time, this job was considered to be important as well as glamorous. The turnover of the organisation was almost one hundred crores and it had a large number of showrooms all over the country.  It was quite a challenging and interesting job to run them efficiently. Every year, a good number of showrooms were renovated and it involved a huge expenditure. One of the expensive items in the renovation was the ‘False Ceiling’.  This term always amused me and I often wondered why such a beautiful piece of work was called ‘False’.

Once I inspected a showroom during its renovation when the work on the false ceiling was in progress. I could, therefore, see the inside of the false ceiling and I found it in bad shape. The wiring, pipe-fittings, ducting, etc., were done badly, probably in the knowledge that they would not be visible after the false ceiling was fitted. The quality of wiring was also poor, which I learned, was done deliberately in order to increase the frequency of repairs. While I took the necessary steps to correct the situation in the process, I also understood the significance of the word ‘false’.

Subsequently, I held many important posts which took me around the country and abroad frequently. I like meeting people and have had an interaction with a large cross-section with widely varying backgrounds. I can modestly claim that I have been able to understand human nature to a great extent and do not get upset easily when someone hurts me or behaves in an unexpected manner. I have found a large number of people who are apparently very well-behaved and project themselves as our
well-wishers, while the reality is different. Initially, such a situation used to upset me, but now it is no more so.
The incident about the false ceiling also helped me greatly to understand this aspect of human nature. Most people try to hide their faults with false behaviour and a disguised appearance. The reality is known only when we see them closely. Unfortunately, in today’s fast world, such opportunities are rare and whenever one tries to do so, the result is a clash or conflict. The only option, therefore, is to watch oneself closely and remove those faults, which we dislike in others.

There is a need to behave well and decently, a desirable quality of a good human being. Good behaviour becomes undesirable only when it is false, but sincerity and genuine goodness will reap rich dividends not only for oneself but for others too.
Unfortunately, most of us feel that it is more important to appear nice than to be really nice. It may be true for a short while but it is not so when life is seen in totality. Sooner or later, the false appearance and poor contents inside are exposed and there is no option left but to discard the object in totality. Someone has rightly said, ‘It is good to be important but it is more important to be good’. If we believe in this, there would be no need for any
‘False Ceiling.

By Rakesh K Mittal IAS on 31-08-2017
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Being Like the Sea

Once I stayed in Madras for about a week with my family. We stayed in a guest house located on a beach near the sea, which added to the charm and pleasure of staying there. We had very pleasant morning walks along the mighty, surging sea, and its vastness touched our hearts. During our stay, I contemplated deeply on the nature of the sea and how it helps us to develop our own personality.

The first great quality of the sea is its vastness. It is so vast that the other shore of the sea is never seen by an ordinary person. We require magnitude in our personality too. Our vision should enlarge with our physical growth so that our personality becomes pleasant. An ordinary person may not think beyond himself, his family or a close social circle. Such vision needs further expansion and one should ultimately think of the whole creation. With such a vast vision, we start
loving the whole creation of God and there is no room for lower tendencies like hatred, anger and jealousy.

The second quality of the sea is its depth. The vastness of the sea would be meaningless without its depth for this quality enables the sea to gain stability. Similarly, for the true development of our personality vast mundane knowledge is not sufficient as it may not give depth to our personality. This depth is acquired by developing wisdom which gives stability to our personality.

The third quality to be learnt from the sea is ‘absorption’. It absorbs whatever is merged into it. All mighty rivers ultimately merge into the sea and it accepts all of them. Not only this, these rivers carry away with them all the filth created by human beings. The sea accepts that too. In turn it returns pure rain-water, retaining all the dirty water received by it. The sea water itself remains saltish though it is the ultimate source of all sweet water. This amounts to returning goodness in exchange for evil, a quality which should be part of the personality also, giving us mercy, kindness and compassion.

The last quality is 'stability' which can also be learnt from the sea. The sea level remains stable though universal forces cause some ups and downs in it periodically. That is why the Mean Sea Level is a standard benchmark and does not change with time.  Similarly, our mental variations as a result of interaction with the world should also be to the minimum and the effort should be to maintain it at the same level. This little variation of sea level only indicates that as long as we live in the world, absolute calmness may not be possible. That state can be achieved only when we firmly control our reactions and responses, both mentally and physically. However, while living in the world, stability can be maintained and the variation can be reduced to the minimum. This is the quality which brings serenity to our personality.

Thus four qualities of the sea, namely,vastness, depth, absorption and stability are to be adopted in our personality.
If we can do so, we may be as useful for the society as the sea is to the entire creation on the earth.

By Rakesh K Mittal IAS on 26-08-2017
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Do It With Calm

When I was the Principal Secretary of an important public utility department, I had a secretary who was a very honest and sincere officer. We both joined the department almost simultaneously, he being only few days senior to me. The department was known for corruption and inefficiency, but the acuteness was a secret for us till we joined the department. My younger friend discovered it soon and was baffled.
Few days after I joined, he gave me a call one evening asking if he could meet me immediately. Incidentally, I was also relatively free and had no visitor or officials around. So I asked him to come immediately so that we could talk at ease. His body language revealed discomfort and he appeared to be in a state of confusion. Going by his sincerity and reputation, it was an unusual sight and I also became curious. Then he told me about a call which he had received a few hours earlier from a vendor who used to supply posters for a certain health programme. The caller sought instruction from him with regard to his commission, which fell due on account of the last campaign, held soon after he had joined. The amount was about three lakh rupees and the manner and place of payment had also been discussed. This was a situation he had never come across before and was confused about his response to such a strange call. He appeared to be quite angry at the vendor and wanted to take strong action against him. He sought my advice in this regard. Apart from the real problem which would be dealt with separately, my immediate concern was his agony. Here was a person who was honest and sincere but was suffering on account of the misdeeds of others. This was the last thing I wanted for him.
With a touch of humour, I then told him that there were only two options before him. Either he calmly accepted the money or calmly refused it. Instead, he was choosing a third option, that of refusing the vendor with anger. In this way, he was going to be a double sufferer. He got my point and felt somewhat relaxed. Then we discussed the matter from the administrative point of view. I advised him to understand the whole process and take necessary steps to stop the malpractice for all times to come. I also assured him my full cooperation.
He took my advice seriously and soon worked out a plan, which could address the problem at its root. In the very next campaign, there was a saving of about forty percent, much more than the cut that was being offered to him. Incidentally, the vendor also appreciated his initiative as this removed his dilemma too. This was made possible only because the whole chain of events was carried out with a calm frame of mind.

By Rakesh K Mittal IAS on 14-08-2017