How about a Chamcha Day?

  • PS Tulsi, Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
  • Updated: Dec 12, 2014 12:27 IST

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has given a clear message to all his colleagues that sycophancy shall not be tolerated. According to him, people should work hard for earning rewards. That is a step in the right direction and if we as a country manage to eradicate this malady, along with its offshoots, corruption and nepotism, that have spread their insidious tentacles deep into our society, we will surely become a global force to reckon with.

If laughter is the best medicine, satire can prove to be an effective tool to highlight and put an end to some unsavoury practices. I recall an annual episode from my college days that was held to deal with sycophancy or what's better known as chamchagiri.

During my student years at Malaviya Regional Engineering College, Jaipur, between 1964 and 1969, we used to celebrate Chamcha Day every year on January 1. All students used to attend their classes dressed in blazers that had a chamcha or a spoon tucked into the lapel, a spot that rather deserves a rose! After college hours, we would gather at the mess and wait with bated breath as the 'chamcha of the year' was elected and presented a karchi or serving spoon as an award. Most 'winners' accepted the award sportingly.

Let's say it was our form of The Golden Raspberry Awards (The Razzies) awarded to the worst Hollywood performances or closer home The Golden Kela Award given for below-par presentation in Bollywood. We organised this to discourage the students from indulging in chamchagiri to get more marks from the faculty.

So engrained is sycophancy in our social system that it creates hurdles at every step. But nowhere is it most evident than in the government departments. I have seen it at close quarters during my tenure in a government department for 35 years. I saw many chamchas going up the ladder although there was no contribution from them to the department so far as work was concerned. In a lot of cases, calibre took second place, while 'other skills' came into play during promotions and postings. I remember a particular colleague drawing constant praise and earning honour not on account of his engineering prowess but his keenness for astrology. He would be the 'guiding light' for many in the department who would plan their moves according to his predictions. Lavish rewards were always being doled out to him by way of choice postings. And did he rise high in the department? Well, that's a question I'll leave to you to answer.

Often during my service, I thought about the Chamcha Day we used to organise in college. How successfully we would convey what we felt and that too over a laugh! Can we not introduce a similar day in our national calendar? The Prime Minister may kindly consider such a step to shame the chamchas.

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