I [once wrote] a satirical essay on the dinosaurs of bureaucracy that had survived Manmohan Singh’s first wave of economic liberalization. I was quite pleased with the title-”Bureaucratic Park”-though it never saw the light of day. But the real thrill was finding myself back on very familiar turf. Grimy corridors, supplicant citizens, and the “concerned officer” enthroned on his swivel chair. I loved the scenery-the towel on the backrest, the psychedelic paperweights… the papers beneath them.
There was the Commission for Scientific and Technical Terminology, an Orwellian outfit that produced a Comprehensive Glossary of Administrative Terms in English and the vernacular. “Hindi is very poor in terms,” a commissioner told me. Another office nurtured the remains of Indira Gandhi’s 20-Point Program from the Emergency days. “We look after points 1, 5, 8, 11, 14, 15, and 16,” a man told me. “The other thirteen have been dropped.” My favorite was the Office of Stationery. “Please apply in writing. In triplicate,” they told me. I went to visit them instead, and found the assembled staff standing hushed and yes, stationary, at their desks. It was a moment of silence for a fallen colleague, a bureaucratic wake.
Tuesday, March 30, 2010
Kai Friese: Slow Speed
Posted by Abi. Posted at 1:38 PM