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. Not only this, I have often been able to get their appreciation. But to say that I have reached a stage of total fearlessness is not correct. Therefore, the issue still occupies my mind as I wish to reach this state. In my subsequent years of public service, I constantly strived to reach that stage of fearlessness and the process is still on. I believe that a civil servant should not make mere survival his target though he must survive to achieve the target. I also have a feeling that in the ultimate analysis, it is our own vested interest which fills us with fear, and it is not fair to blame others for not reaching the stage of fearlessness.
With this background, one can quote numerous examples from the past and present when individuals have shown tremendous courage, displaying total fearlessness in their work. After all, these persons also worked, or work, in a similar environment but obviously developed enough inner strength to stand against vested interests, including their own. They could not have done so without being unselfish themselves. This brings us to the fact that fearlessness is a state which is achieved by long introspection and constant striving, Such a person has to equip himself with all the qualities which can give him a command over his environment. Such a person never blames the situation he is confronted with, but creates his own circumstances. He sees an opportunity in all difficulties and turns them into stepping-stones. However, merely a state of fearlessness is not sufficient in itself. It should be accompanied with certain other qualities too, in order to benefit the society at large. A tyrant ruler may also be called a fearless person but his fearlessness is a negative quality. In fact, the fearlessness of such a person is only his disguised fearfulness. It is not fearlessness in the true sense. A truly fearless person will also be equipped with other qualities like compassion, justice, kindness, forgiveness, etc. Society benefits by the actions of such persons and it is these people who lead and change the society for the better. At present, we need such persons all the more. Let us strive to achieve such a state of fearlessness.