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.