Atanu Dey On India's Development

Krishi Bhavan, Gate No. 6

Dateline: July 7th, 9:20 AM
Lobby of the Ministry of Rural Development, Gate No. 6, Krishi Bhavan, New Delhi.

Dear Diary:

Got here too early for my 10 AM meeting since I could not accurately estimate the time it would take me to find the place.

Immediately upon entering, stopped by security. One man in civilian clothes, apparently the receptionist, rudely commanded me to wait. He did not display the least hint of common courtesy.

In the area which I suppose one can call the lobby, a set of moldy overstuffed broken chairs are scattered around haphazardly. Near the door, are piled a few wooden mail boxes bearing the names of different departments. They had seen better days, and one has its door dangling from one remaining hinge and the letters are spilling out of it. A man comes by and opens one of the mail boxes and selects a few letters, stuffs the rest in the box while spilling a few on the floor and walks away without bothering.

A man with a dirty wet mop comes and starts wiping the floor, distributing the muck and wetting the spilled letters.

It is hot and humid already. There are two desert coolers in the area. Both are rusted and broken down, the side panels are stacked on the top. The walls are dirty and one can see evidence that sometime in the past, a conduit for wiring running all along the area was embedded into the wall and then plastered over roughly. Looking up, I see the high ceiling is cobweb ridden. There is a cobweb-sweeping zhadu tied to a bamboo pole leaning against the wall in the lobby.

The security guys are dressed in dirty khaki uniforms, their bellies hanging over wide belts holding up their trousers. People are walking into the building.

Off to the left and to the right are grimy corridors dimly lit with florescent tube lights. Only some of the installed tube lights work. Wires hang out of missing ceiling tiles along the corridors like the spilled guts of a cyborg.

I sit here desperately seeking a small indication — a sign — of caring, of professionalism, of pride, of thought. I see none. The lobby is a place of unrelieved squalor. It is depressing to have to sit and observe it.

Dear Diary, who are the people who work here? Who are the people who are in charge of this place? What does this decay and total lack of care imply about the institution which this building houses? Can people who are incapable of taking care of their front office do much for development, rural or otherwise?

Atanu

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  • http://neverfollow.blogspot.com/ Devang

    don’t judge a book by it’s cover…

  • M

    Devang: And how would you judge the Rural development ministry? By the bribes stuffed in the pockets of its ministers?

  • http://wateronlotus.blogspot.com Raghuveer

    I think the same description can be used for most governmental offices in India. Till people have pride in their vocation, the environs will remain the same.

    Feels like I read a page of ‘English, August’ :)

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  • http://neverfollow.blogspot.com/ Devang

    M: Mine was a hopeful statement more than anything else. First visits, and first impressions haven’t been good for some interviews I’ve given. It’s perhaps more clear to me now than ever, a rising tide definately doesn’t lift all boats.

  • little Ram

    Devang,

    Does it all matter?…I wager you; just change out the environment and see if there is a difference. Also, I believe there is Gladwells’ broken windows theory at work here.

  • http://www.DelhiEvents.com Rohit Malik

    That’s the condition of most of government officles, schools, colleges etc.

  • Pardeshi

    Atanu,
    Your observations on the “nobody cares” attitude in the public offices are really saddening.
    Had this been written by some frenchmen in rediff kind of forum, it would have drawn hundreds of comments like “if you don’t like India ,leave it”

  • Pardeshi

    Atanu,
    I remember at the Emergency reign of missis Indira Gandhi in 1976-1977, I was in Bangalore.Every railway employee was wearing badges and trying to be very helpful to the passengers. Do we need such a dictatorship kind of rule to be courteous towards people who are really clients of public services ?