As we grew in service we realised that there were some things we did not like and some things were not done in good taste by our seniors too. There used to be many things which were required to be done due to the circumstances prevailing at that time and sometimes we had an indecisive person. Some were welfare oriented, some were strict disciplinarians, some were hard training masters, some were party people, some were professionally focused and some were technological wizards. Only some were perfect thorough bred Officers and Gentlemen. However, there was something good about everyone. There was something to learn and emulate from each of them.
I remember we had a boss who used to say, if a senior officer opens his mouth shove a chicken leg in, if he opens it wider shove the second one too, nothing wrong with this approach. One day the Army Chief landed up in the unit, I was told. It was midst of summers and the unit was under canvas (tents). You name it and every imaginable cold beverage on earth was catered for. The unit baniya’s tent was co-located and on a pre-designated signal, he was to start piping out hot jalebis. As a courtesy the dignitary was asked, Sir what would you like to have? He said a hot cup of tea. It was like a nuclear bomb which fell on the tent. Mess had not catered for it; baniya was already churning out jalebis, so our waiter just warmed the kettle of chai from the langar and served it. The Chief was so happy to drink it that all officers whose smile had been wiped off suddenly breathed a sigh of relief. Life goes like that. No one thanked the waiter and his presence of mind.
There was another VIP visit in a different operational sector. No stone was left unturned to make it a memorable one. Waiters and cooks were mustered from every unit and formation. Due to his reputation even the cooks wore a helmet to prepare the banquet. The menu was continental. We all proceeded for lunch after the operational briefing. The spread looked delicious and sumptuous. As the dignitary went around shaking hands with all lesser mortals like me, one senior officer asked him sir how about a glass of beer. He said do you have soup, the answer was affirmative. Sir you want a hot one or a cold soup, the answer was cold. It was served in a jiffy. He asked for a slice of bread and shouted loudly; friends’ lunch is served “CHARGE”. No one moved, then he told his story which went like this, “Jab Khane peene ki umr thi to kisi ne khane nahi diya, ab umr nikal gayi hai to tum khila rahe ho” (When I was of age no one offered me a meal like this, now I am at an age where I can’t eat all this). I can only have soup as permitted by the doctor. Well, we ate till our belly’s ached.
Be that as it may, it disillusions me to find our “pradhan sewak” acting like a “pradan alochak” for whatever that means. Had he been in place of Nehru and Gandhi what would he have done is a matter of conjecture. Why, what those people did at that time is history. Why are we digging those old graves? It is quite obvious that elections are around the bend. The need of the time is to look ahead by at least fifty years if not half of it or are we so myopic that we can’t see beyond 2019. Your time is now Mr PM, do it for the country. Tomorrow, the next generation should not start cursing you for your decisions or indecisions of today.
As my experiences tell me that every new incumbent takes time to settle down, you have had four years already. In the army, before a CO says Jack Robinson his successor is in. The new one goes around changing things. If nothing else he will make a trophy with his name and change the curtains of the guest room. The very thought that my predecessors were nincompoops should never happen. One must keep adding values to enrich and improve, rather find faults and curse the founder fathers.
So dear PM Sahib, I am looking forward to achhe din. The founders of this country have left a legacy. It is now your duty to take it to greater heights. They gave us India in whatever shape, should not be questioned. They freed us from the Union Jack. Their intentions can never be doubted and their integrity cannot be tainted. What have your party predecessors achieved for India, if I may ask? There will be no end to the argument then.
What does this country have in store in this century you cannot predict? What will be the circumstances, what will be the resources, what will be the compulsions, what will be the world order, if Gandhi and Nehru could have predicted this 70 years back, India would be in “bahut achhe din” phase.
If wishes were horses and beggars could ride and turnips were watches I would have one by my side! Sahi ya galat? I wonder!!!!!!!!!!
© Noel Ellis