Who pays for my service?: Kiran Bedi

I was invited to speak at the Lal Bahadur Shastri Academy of Administration, Mussoorie a few days ago. It was for an interaction with over 200 officer trainees of the IFS, IAS, IPS, IRS, and other services. As I settled down, the night before, to organise my thoughts, various questions surfaced in my mind which were answers by themselves. Hence, I felt it would be interesting for the officer trainees to hear them and perhaps feel the way I did. The subject of my talk was “Govt-citizen-interface”. Questions in the form of answers, I posed to the trainees were:-

Q.1 Why have you joined the service? (Please answer for yourself)

Is it for position, power & status? If yes, then the public will have very little place in your scheme of things, but if it is for service to people, then all your work will be people-centric …. therefore the first question you need to ask yourself is: why have I joined the Government service?

Q.2 What does the service stand for? What is its objective?

If your mind says it stands for service to people, then no one will need to tell you why you should serve people: For you will tell yourself to fulfil the objectives of your service.

Q.3 Who is the service meant for?

If your answer is, its for me, my family and my friends, then please tell yourself that you are not at the right place. If your mind says it’s for people, then be happy you are at the place you are meant for. Again no one will have to tell you why you need to work for people for you will be self guided.

Q.4 Who pays for my service?

If your answer is people: then how could you betray the people who pay for you? How can you then reverse the roles from a server to that of a master? And a good server is one who serves with sincerity and loyalty.

Q.5 Who is most affected by your work?

If your answer is people .... then you will realise that each action of yours has a direct or indirect effect on the people for whom you were meant for.

Q.6 Who needs you most?

If your answer is the poor, weak, deprived, backward, needy, old, underprivileged and vulnerable: then you have the right answers. If your answer is not this then you have lost your way and you are being used by the lobbies whose interest is to see that you do lose your way.

Q.7 How are you going to deliver the services which are meant for people?

This means you will focus on the method you adopt to deliver the services to the people at large. Will you be visible or invisible? Known or unknown? Will you be visible only when a VIP visits or will you treat your people equally important?

Q.8 What do you do when you are visible?

Do you interact and communicate with the common people or do you stay aloof? Is there honesty in your concern? Remember each word you say is remembered.

Q.9 How do you communicate?

Do you understand their feelings and are able to convey yours to them.

Q.10 Do you ask myself, how can your work be better and for those you are meant?

If yes, then you are bound to be interacting with people because it’s your people who teach you. It’s people who sensitise you and actually give you the possible solutions to the problems, provided you have the time and patience to listen to them.

Q.11 What kind of feedback systems do you adopt?

Are you giving people an equal opportunity to reach out to you. If yes, you will have enough. If no, then your administration will be lopsided and weak.

Q.12 Are you confident with a feedback system?

This will happen only when you are non-partisan and honest. Otherwise feedback will be a ritual only and you will like to avoid it. Q.13 Who is your goal?

If the answer is people you will be doing what you came for. If it has changed you have again lost your way.

Q.14 What are your needs?

If you are asking for more than you need, then people are not your priority. You have again lost your track, you need to come back.

Q.15 Do you believe in questioning yourself?

If yes, then you will continue to be sensitive towards people : if not you have changed.

Q.16 Do you believe in empowering & sharing with others?

If yes, you are meeting the objectives of your job if not you have failed.

Q.17 What do you think you service is?

A position, status or a trust? If it is a position and status then you have cheated the people who pay for you and rely on you. If your answer is that your position is a trust you have served the purpose for which you have been entrusted the service of the people.

These questions are in fact roadmaps for our entire professional journey. Whenever we forget them we go the wrong direction.

While I spoke to the students I made them write down these questions. That was my present to them. But when they wrote and listened carefully they rewarded me equally.

This is based upon an article published in The Tribune, Chandigarh on 14 December 2002.

Why are we so NEGATIVE?: DR. A. P. J. Abdul Kalam

Why is the media here so negative?

Why are we in India so embarrassed to recognize our own strengths, our achievements?

We are such a great nation. We have so many amazing success stories but

We refuse to acknowledge them. Why?

We are the first in milk production.

We are number one in Remote sensing satellites.

We are the second largest producer of wheat.

We are the second largest producer of rice.

Look at Dr. Sudarshan , he has transferred the tribal village into a self-sustaining, self-driving unit. There are millions of such achievements but our media is only obsessed in the bad news and failures and disasters.

I was in Tel Aviv once and I was reading the Israeli newspaper. It was the day after a lot of attacks and bombardments and deaths had taken place. The Hamas had struck. But the front page of the newspaper had the picture of a Jewish gentleman who in five years had transformed his desert into an orchid and a granary. It was this inspiring picture that everyone woke up to. The gory details of killings, bombardments, deaths, were inside in the newspaper, buried among other news.

In India we only read about death, sickness, terrorism, crime.. Why are we so NEGATIVE? I guess we grew up with the maxim that good news is no news. The right to publish bad news has become synonymous with freedom. That is why our press is so strong, so fiercely independent-if not always encouraging of success stories.

Another question: Why are we, as a nation so obsessed with foreign things? Is it a legacy of our colonial years? We want foreign television sets. We want foreign shirts. We want foreign technology. Why this obsession with everything imported? Do we not realise that self respect comes with self reliance?

I was in Hyderabad giving this lecture, when a 14-year-old girl came up and asked me for my autograph. I asked her what her goal in life was. She replied: I want to live in a developed India. For her, you and I will have to build this developed India. You must proclaim this through your writings, through your speeches in Parliament.

[Excerpts from Dr. A. P. J. Abdul Kalam ’s Speech in Hyderabad. (]

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