Dilemmas of a Creative Bureaucrat.

So the first session has Upamanyu chatterjee, who says, he is identified as the “bureaucrat jo kitaab likhta hai” in conversation with Jawhar Sircar. Upamanyu Chatterjee is is an Indian civil servant who has written delightful books like English August, dealing with the hardships that the city bred IAS officers face on duty in remote areas. Jawhar Sircar is another bureaucrat, who as he says, was “thrown out” of service for speaking his mind.

Upamanyu Chatterjee.
Upamanyu Chatterjee.

They talk primarily of the Indian Civil Services, or rather the vices and flaws of it. They talk about what happens behind the scenes and the hidden truths. Of how, the services try to keep you shut and is like a “death knell” for all creativity. They shunned hilarious myths, which say that just because Upamanyu is a good author, he possibly cannot be  a good officer. It is indeed distressing, that Civil servants being singled out as “odd”. The most interesting aspect of this particular session was how interactive and hilarious it was.  There was humour in almost every sentence, that indeed made it very enjoyable.

They discussed genuine questions and spoke about myths that haunt the mind of layman like us. Their main objection was that, if you are being selected through such a difficult process, they should allow the creativity to flourish and let the system nurture that instead of curtailing it. They desire the system to open up more and give a little more freedom.

Quite surprisingly, they talk about how uncomfortable power too, can make you. Power is indeed a part of why lakhs youngsters give the IAS examinations.

On a very personal level, the position of an IAS officer has always attracted awe and admiration from me. Part of me, even aspires to become one someday. This session, was different in a lot of ways. Most importantly, for not glorifying the post like most others, but for talking about the harsh realities that prevail in the system.

Looking forward to the next session, which is primarily about the art of storytelling!

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