There are no stops for those who butter-up bosses
Published in Times of India on March 19
In this era there is no time to pause for the persistent ladder-climber. The way to the top is as crowded as ever. In the frenzied action that thus takes place all around us, one finds that sycophants are the ones most likely to manoeuvre themselves ahead.
For people of this category no limits are too low, no compromises too shameless. These days one finds subordinates licking up to bosses more than ever before. Bosses in turn find movers and shakers above them in the scheme of things to butter up. This proclivity towards calculating the benefit that each action is likely to result in, is rather abhorrent especially when indulged in ad nauseum!
Whether it is the corporate sector or the governmental system, neither is bereft of this tendency. The flowers purchased from a road side vendor by a sarkari babu provide an excellent insight into his mind-set, for example. If he lingers and ponders while buying them, they could be for the wife or for a girlfriend. But if he simply buys the largest one on offer, they are most certainly for his boss or the boss’s wife.
When a sarkari boss is likely to remain in the saddle for some years, he or she is likely to be treated like a demi-god by the departmental cronies. Conversely, if the boss is due to retire within weeks the only people wanting to meet him would be last minute favour-seekers. They would do anything to get him to sign on the dotted line before he becomes redundant to them on the date of his superannuation.
Indeed, retired bureaucrats inevitably find that life has changed for them unrecognisably. No longer do calls flow in by the dozen on New Year’s Day or Holi. People even turn their backs at weddings and dos; if at all the retiree is invited to one. Such is the cruel way of the sarkari world.
Legend has it that an official was enjoying some pista which was being shelled by his peon. A messenger entered with the breaking news that the sahib had just been transferred to another station, much to the latter’s discomfort. The peon had just shelled another pista at that moment. He promptly decided that there was no use wasting it on the boss in view of the changed circumstances and mouthed it himself without further ado!
Some years back, I came across a chap who was the epitome of the sycophancy phenomenon. He would run around all over the place trying to be in my ‘good books’. Once he realised that I was not the sort who enjoyed the company of his sort he vanished from the scene, only to emerge from oblivion once I was transferred out, in order to try his luck with the new incumbent.
Jaspal Bhatti famously highlighted the extent to which sycophants can go in his Flop Show some years ago. In one episode the Managing Director’s pet dog had wandered off somewhere and the whole office went hell-for-leather to try and find it! While that filmy dog-chase may appear a little far-fetched, reality is not far behind.
The latest one hears from the corridors of power is that one particular officer is about to be elevated to an extremely powerful assignment. Every member of babudom worth his salt is thus engrossed nowadays in finding out which brand of liquor the boss prefers and which chocolates he is fond of. One also hears that some officers have flown off to a foreign land (on a private trip) because one particular brand of coffee that the big man’s wife loves is available only there!
The upside of the behaviour of such desperadoes is of course that they are a source of much mirth to onlookers. May their tribe increase!