Having put in more than three decades in the Indian Administrative Service, I often feel confused about the process of development in the country. I have almost always been adjudged as an outstanding officer by my superiors. Not only me, most are assessed as very good, if not outstanding. More or less the same is the case with the officers of the other services. In the secretariat, which is the centre of governance, there is hardly any exception to this assessment. Individually, we all feel very happy about this achievement and take advantage of it at every opportunity.
The main criterion of this assessment is the fulfilment of the targets set for us during the course of a fixed period, generally a financial year. Towards the end of every financial year, the targets fixed by each department are by and large achieved and in most cases, the performance is better than the previous year. Going by this fact, the nation should have become fully educated, healthy, crime-free, clean, employed and prosperous by now. Every year there is a rise in the number of schools, hospitals, police stations, area sown, productivity, number of tube wells, power generation, road construction, so on and so forth. But at the end of all this, we find that the society’s grievances against the administration or governance as a whole are on the rise. Everyone feels that the health and education network has deteriorated, there is manifold increase in the crime-rate, there is annoying traffic on the roads, there are power shortages, there is lack of sanitation and a host of other problems. And on the face of it, no one can deny these facts.
As commissioner of the Lucknow division, I used to travel a lot in my jurisdiction, which was quite large. I myself noticed this situation closely and at times used to feel pained. One day when I was contemplating over this matter, it occurred to me that while the targets were being achieved by all of us, everyone was missing the goal. One reason according to me is that while we applied the entire mind to achieve the target there is hardly any application of heart in our work. Unless we do our work with head and heart both, the true purpose of our work is hard to achieve. Secondly, our individual growth appears to be enough to us. While it may be true in the short-run but if we work for cross purposes, then everyone ends up losing in the long-run. This is what seems to be happening today.
I conveyed my feelings to all the senior officers working with me, in the form of a letter, which was very much appreciated. I don’t know how many of them went beyond appreciation but it is my conviction that unless the goal of development is achieved, mere achievement of targets is meaningless. In other words, unless there is a rise in ‘gross national happiness’ or ‘per capita happiness’, rise in ‘gross national income’ or ‘per capita income’ is without meaning. This is possible only when we pay attention to both, the outer as well as the inner development of the society, and this requires the employment of both our ‘head’ and ‘heart’ in work. The same is true for life also. If the goal of life is to be achieved, we must not only be smart but also good.