A retired police officer who, by virtue of
being the first woman IPS officer, was unfortunately treated like a
celebrity as soon as she joined the service. In her new avatar as social
activist, she is associated with a number of NGOs.
As in most cases, the Magsaysay Award conferred on her served as the
critical passport to her post-retirement stardom. She began to be invited
for talks and seminars on issues concerning corruption and character.
It is another matter that she is known to have made no difference to
corruption while she served in the police.
She was convinced that that she deserved no less than business class air
travel for her lecture and seminar tours. Her sponsors always gave in.
Trustee of Bedi NGO quits, claims his reputation tarnished
But she invariably travelled economy class, that too by availing 75 per
cent concession entitled to her by virtue of being the recipient of
President's Gallantry Medal.
Nevertheless, she submitted the wrong invoice and received money for a
business class ticket. The difference in amount in some travels was as much
as five times.
Now when the misdoings have been discovered, she is making the
preposterous, rather disastrous plea that the superfluous money she made
was for the purposes of her NGO. Her patriotic heart had no qualms about
bleeding other organizations to benefit her own.
The basic reason for humans with corrupt proclivities is that they are
selfish in their make and have little concern for their fellow humans and
To serve is not their motive. Such people invoke the interest of some
organisation or the country to camouflage their misdeeds. They are no
different from politicians who siphon off money in the name of party funds,
which in the same vein as the case under question should be considered
Regrettably, this kind of fudging of bills is rampant amongst civil
servants. The lady in question seems to have persisted with the tendency
after retirement and temptation got the better of her notwithstanding her
current national and international prominence as one of the key members of
The lady is none other than Kiran Bedi.
Can she be a role model to the youth in this country?
Consider the second case. An officer takes study leave for a course. He
completes his course and rejoins his service i.e. Indian Revenue Service
which he joined after being trained as an Engineer at the IIT. Obviously
his patriotic heart neither took to engineering nor revenue matters.
After he rejoins from study leave, it is obligatory on his part, as with
all government servants, to serve for three years. After a lapse of one
year, he proceeds on leave without pay for two years. He then resigns.
His resignation is not accepted on the grounds that his long leave without
pay cannot be included in the post study leave three-year mandatory period.
One of the reasons why this three-year mandatory period has been stipulated
is that the government department must gain from the knowledge and skill
acquired by the individual during study leave.
The government asks the individual to pay two years' salary and the
computer loan as a precondition to his release. As is the rule the
government does not release any post-retirement monetary entitlements,
including provident fund, till all dues and loans are cleared.
The officer ignores all rules and regulations and does not pay. He insists
all dues be paid out of his provident fund. His resignation is till date
If he were in the Army, he would have been court-martialed. Would you like
to have this officer as a subordinate?
Well this man is Arvind Kejriwal, another key member of Team Anna, and is
now fighting corruption.
It is significant that Kejriwal's rise, since his stint in the US during
his study leave, has been meteoric in terms of number and reach of his
NGOs. He got the Magsaysay Award within three years of his return from the
The two cases pose some larger questions and are symptomatic of the deeper
malaise in the civil services.
What is the symbiosis between Magsaysay awards and social activists?
Is our moral fibre weak in general?
Does the colonial mindset and tendency of according hero-like status to our
civil servants spur corruption and make accountability abysmal?
Any country wherein bureaucrats are powerful and lawyers are prosperous is
doomed to remain in the third-world. Is India turning into a banana
Is the methodology of selection for civil services skewed?
Most officers in the Police or Income Tax have aspired to join the IAS or
IFS and that is why some of them lack motivation to begin with and
eventually turn cynical in their attitude to the service and the people.
They then decide to use the service as citadel for furthering their
financial and political aspirations.
A significant number of such officers have been from IIT or MBBS
background. The latest in the list is Sanjeev Bhat, the police officer from
Most of these officers brought no distinction to their profession or
service. Their motivation was power and perks. The recruitment pattern
produces neither good technocrats nor good administrators. It accords no
emphasis on character qualities.
The Late Gautam Goswami (MBBS, MD) a Bihar cadre IAS officer who died young
and spent his last few years in jail on charges of corruption was a victim
of the same phenomenon. He, too, was recipient of the Magsaysay award.
In many countries, people would find the omissions and commissions of Kiran
Bedi and Arvind Kejriwal revolting. Nevertheless, they appear pedestrian
when viewed in the backdrop of the level of immorality and corruption
prevailing in the civil services.
This explains the mute reaction of civil servants, serving and retired, on
the misdoings of Kiran Bedi and Kejriwal. Some of them continue to put up a
very stout defence on their behalf.
The moot question is that if Anna Hazare cannot get three or four people of
integrity in his core team, what would be the fate of Lok Pal?
The problem is not of institutions, it is about 'we the people of India'.
It is easy to rally masses and build mob hysteria by creating class
There will be no change until there is a sagacious leader who has the moral
temerity to appeal and challenge the conscience of the people at large.
This appeal to purge individual and collective propensities to corruption
will only smite our conscience if it is truly non-violent, all-encompassing
and free of prejudice in its import.
Anna's movement, though non-violent in tangible terms, unfortunately smacks
of implied intimidation, retribution and violence. RSN
Singh is a former military intelligence officer who later
served in the Research and Analysis Wing, or R&AW. The author of two
books: Asian Strategic and Military Perspective and Military Factor in
Pakistan, he is also Associate Editor, Indian Defence