Dr. Dharma Vira an ICS officer was known for his competence and integrity. He once occupied the highest office of the Cabinet Secretary in the Government of India. Thereafter, he served as Governor of West Bengal and Karnataka. For a long time he was the Chairman of the Board of Governors of the Administrative Staff College of India, Hyderabad. Everywhere he displayed both qualities in ample measure.
When Dr. Dharma Vira entered his nineties, he issued an appeal to the national leaders and thinkers, suggesting certain measures in the interest of the nation. I also received a copy of the appeal and a phrase in this caught my attention. He had started with the sentence: ‘I have now entered the 90th year of my life and it also indicates nearness to my tenure on this earth.’ For civil servants, the word ‘tenure’ is a familiar term and they often talk about the tenure on a particular assignment. However,
the phrase ‘tenure on this earth’ is something which is applicable to all of us and I am going to elaborate upon it here. Civil servants are often transferred from one post to another. They also go on deputation to a particular organisation or to a Government of India post. Also, the nature of their jobs varies so widely that they generally do not get attached to a particular job or place. This helps them greatly in maintaining their objectivity, enabling them to deal with a situation or person in a fair manner. Perhaps, the objective behind transfers is mainly this.
The same is the case with a deputation. A civil servant goes on a deputation for a fixed tenure after which he reverts to his parent organisation. In the case of the Indian Administrative Service, the rules regarding a tenure are quite stringent, and an officer usually does not get even a day’s extension. After the completion of a tenure, they revert back to their state cadre. They can again come on deputation after a fixed period known as the cooling period.
Officers aware of this reality do not get attached to their job and work with fairness and firmness. They gladly go back to their original places after the completion of their tenure. They do not think of an extension and make no efforts for it. But those who seek an extension face many problems. At times they compromise on their principles and face disgrace. They forget the fact that even the extended period comes to an end and their problems are only postponed. Of course, there may be exceptional situations where an extension may have to be sought or accepted for larger interests, personal or public.
Similar to an officer’s tenure is our life on this earth. We know that it has to come to an end one day. The only difference is that we are not aware of the length of our tenure, though it is also said to be fixed by destiny. Since this is so, we should live on this earth in the spirit of acceptance. Getting attached to earthly things will add to our pain at the time of transfer or reversion from here. If we live in a detached manner, we shall not only be able to live gracefully but also to leave gracefully. This is what is expected of a civil servant on a tenure posting and from all of us during our “tenure on the earth”.