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Introducing: Exams for babus

mumbai Updated: Sep 27, 2009 01:31 IST

All was quiet at Mantralaya; public servants bent over their desks. A closer look however would have revealed that they were dozing or asleep or staring at files, daring them to move an inch.

Then, suddenly at the Department of Education, a senior clerk (Leaked Papers) burst in: “We have a new Minister for Education.” No one looked up. Ministers come and ministers go — what else is new?

“This one’s different. He thinks he’s educated.” Alarm swept through the hall. “Maybe he won’t notice us,” ventured section head (Second Thoughts). “I’ll keep very quiet.” “But this fellow says he wants to change things. He plans to abolish examinations.” “Let him,” said associate superintendent (ICSC Meddling), preparing to return to his mid-morning siesta.

“But he wants to introduce a new category of exams — specially for the Education Department!” Everyone sat bolt upright.

“We are all going to have to study for a new B.A. degree — Babu in Administration. If anybody fails to pass with distinction, his job will be privatised.” “Who does he think we are — school boys?” “Well, that’s where he seems to have got the idea.

“Lectures are being arranged for us at centres conveniently located near our places of residence. Everyone should check online for his particular centre. The software is new so there may be a few early malfunctions. An officer living in Borivili may find himself assigned a centre in Nagpur. But he shouldn’t start running from pillar to post. He should wait for his name in a second listing, and maybe a third. But don’t hurry, classes are not likely to commence as per schedule, since teachers have gone on strike demanding higher tea allowance.” A collective sigh of relief.

“Admission to all centres will be reserved 99 per cent for S.Cs, S.Ts and OBCs.” “What about the non-reserved castes — Pathare Prabhus, Gowd Saraswats, Konkanastha Brahmins as well as Nairs, Mehtas, deSouzas and other gate crashers? How are we all expected to squeeze into 1 per cent? Will we be declared redundant?”

“Minister says no one will be removed from service. Lakhs of new posts are to be created, under a VWXYZ scheme. What do these letters stand for? Nobody knows. It’s only a working title. You may be thinking: how can this Minister expect the Government to bear a huge increase in the wage budget? Can the country afford it? Which Minister bothers with little things like that?”

Sylvester da Cunha is one of India’s pioneering admen and chairs the agency that created one of the country’s best-known campaigns — the Amul ads