The entire episode, which is still not done, lasted for a few days and shows, once again, the insatiable thirst for power in so many of us. And who can be blamed for wanting it? I am reminded of a story that I used to listen to as a kid, in Kannada. The narrator, while describing a scene in the Mahabharata, mentions that when the protagonist claps his hand and shouts, “Who’s there?” (Yaaru Alli?), then out come 3-4 soldiers/ servants. If we were to clap our hands and shout, “Who’s there?!”, then all we would get is one irritated voice calling out, “Keep quiet!”. The modern day protagonists in real life are the bureaucrats, Ministers, potentially the movie stars, etc.
While talking with a friend about the Indian Administrative Services exams and the motivation for all Indians to apply for this service, we touched upon a similar topic. If we assume that most of the people that apply for, and prepare for, the IAS exams are honest and only have the welfare of the country at heart, then once they actually become part of the system, they are invariably exposed to the various corrupt practices and side effects of power. Understandably, these officers are provided with top notch Government accommodation, chauffeur driven cars and various other perks which are meant to allow them to focus on the highly important job of actually ensuring that the Government policies are implemented and the country functions as one. But, what happens to the earnest and honest person, when he sees that there are people at his beck and call at any time of the day? There would be someone running to carry his or her bag en route to the office. Any work that needs to be done would be a phone call away. What would take people outside of the system, days, weeks or even months of effort and repeated trips to Government offices to accomplish, would be done with a mere phone call. He/ she would see other seemingly less deserving people being promoted up the chain and taking on more challenging roles. The temptations are too great in those positions. There is always a justification for the misdeed. Power and the thirst for more of it, is all consuming.
The adage, “With great power comes great responsibility” is very true. It is what you do with the power, at the end of the day, that matters. It is all well to wish for it and want it. Keeping one’s feet grounded and head on the shoulders will go a long way in ensuring that if the power is at all bestowed on you, you would take it up with all the humility and responsibility that comes with it. Like Greg Popovich of the San Antonio Spurs said of Tim Duncan, the NBA Player who retired after playing for 18+ years with him, “He is the same man that came to me all those years ago”. That, to me, is the single greatest compliment one can give to a Hall of Fame player. All the championships, the accolades, the adulation did not change him. Very few are like that. It is perhaps not surprising that such stories abound in sports. I’ll save my adulation for sports for another day.