Mastering the Fine Art of Dealing with the Babus

Babus 1

Dealing with the government officials in our part of the world, is an art in itself. An art which is not everyone’s cup of tea. It requires a close study of how government offices work; how many people you’ll have to deal with while tracking your case; which day of the week, and what time of the working hours you should go there.

One should know how to gauge the mood of the official concerned at that particular moment, and the pitch of voice one should use as not to offend him/her. And above all, one needs to practice the art of stoic acquiescence of whatever response you receive from the other end. A strong heart, lots of patience and a permanent smile on the face (even though you may be boiling with rage inside) are the first requirements for the job. One must also be prepared to come back empty-handed, not once but umpteen times.

Those working in the departments where public dealing is required are the best actors in this field as it is a give-and-take routine for them. But no one can imagine the plight of teachers, who may be inspiring actors in the classrooms, but cut a very sorry figure when it comes to dealing with officialdom.

Strange are their ways of dealing with files. One of my cases got delayed for months because, according to the office clerks, I had put a cross (x) against a column where NA (Not Applicable) was to be written! And the file kept on shuttling between different departments! This is how things remain dumped and delayed!

Another time, when I received no response from the directorate (DPI office), the office clerk told me to go myself. He gave me a very valuable piece of advice: I should enquire about the case and if they had marked an objection, instead of keeping the file with them, the DPI office should send it back to the college so that it could be removed.

Armed with these arguments, I landed at the office – a typical Indian one with piles and piles of files; a number of tables tightly bound together; and almost all chairs empty. Most of the tables had spectacles, and open pens on them, indicating 100% attendance and 0% work done! The superintendent, a typical Babu, who was busy writing something, seemed oblivious of the situation around him, and did not lift his head from his file even once as I spoke to him about my case. ‘Madam, it will be done. You can see we have huge pile of work here. We are very busy,’ he said wryly

Reminded of my clerk’s advice, I said, “Sir, if there is any objection, please send it back to the college, so that we can correct it.” A long silence ensued, and I almost cursed myself for saying that. “Theek hai (Alright), Madam ji! We will look for some objection and send it back, if that is what you want,” he said without looking up; and with a stolid face. I wish I could see my own expression at that moment.

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Posted in Article, Just for Laughs by Narinder Jit at April 17th, 2017.
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