The decision-making process in Government is still carried out on files. A file generally moves up and down several times before a final decision is taken on an issue which may or may not be the most appropriate one. Several considerations are looked at intervening levels and often at the decision-making level also. That is why Indian bureaucracy is so maligned and notorious for delays. Yet, to be fair, the system has its merits and the accountability in decision-making is one of them. Sometimes the observations or notings at the higher levels hurt us when our viewpoint is not well-appreciated. This is part of the game and those who are in the game take it that way. However, at times the observations can be very depressing and if one is not mature enough, it can take away all the initiative and enthusiasm of the person. It is at this point of time that our inner development has to undergo a test. To pass this test is a difficult proposition and once I had a first hand experience of the same.
At that time I was the Principal Secretary of an important department and had full confidence of my minister. In one of the matters, the question of revoking the suspension order of a senior officer was involved. The suspension had been ordered in haste and there was a general feeling that it was not only unjust for the officer concerned, but also against public interest. The general reputation of the officer was good and I as well as the minister were in favour of revoking the order.
Accordingly, a note was prepared on the file supported at all levels including mine and that of the minister. As a matter of fact, the minister wrote a much bigger note in support of mine and the file was sent to the Chief Minister for final decision. When the file came back from the CM’s office to the minister, he was very upset and one day called me to show the observation of the CM. When I went through it, I was also crestfallen. It was so damaging and demeaning that I had to read it several times before believing it. However, in the meantime, my inner strength had taken over my outer weakness. Our proposal was very objective, free from any fear or favour. There was, therefore, no need to feel offended personally. Surely it was due to some communication gap or mischief. I thought that few black figures (words) should not take away my peace. I mustered all the inner strength and shared my feelings with the minister. The minister also was gracious enough to take full responsibility and again sent the file to the CM with greater conviction. This time the proposal was approved and the matter ended.