Saturday, July 4, 2015

To a Gentleman Officer With Respect

"Officer-Like Qualities" or "OLQ" are one of the first things one hears of after entering the Services. Though there exists no textbook definition for the same, by popular perception, it is identified and understood. If you are one for discipline, sincerity and a stickler for rules, you are in for a rude surprise when you enter the Services. As much as it requires passion, dedication and consistent effort to get in, sadly, once inside, very little of that translates to behaviour *towards* the Service. It isn't about implicit acceptance of the System (however 'flawed' it may be) as it is about respecting the rules of an institution.

These days, it appears as if the default "setting" in many individuals is "unacceptance" of established rules (as opposed to norms, convention, etc.). While not wearing sunglasses when receiving the Prime Minister might be a norm, attending classes regularly, avoiding usage of phones during classes, attending PT's in the morning, etc. are closer to "rules". Besides, incorrect thought it may be, there is this tendency to think that obedience to these rules, especially in a severely lax environment, reflects the sense of idealism and commitment an officer has (to have) - towards the service, society and nation.

Swapnil Tembe - AIR 84, is one of those rare officers with full possession of such "Officer-Like Qualities". I am not sure if his ITBP background contributed to his officer-like persona or if he has always been this way, but he was one of the few who you could look up to - a constant in the morning PT sessions notorious for mass bunking, one who stood by the very principles you came to the Service expecting to see - be it in attending classes or not using unfair means during the exams or back-biting about other batch-mates. He was one of the few who shared my sense of idealism - towards the Service, Department and the Nation, despite a bleak outlook for especially the first 2. Barely 2 days ago, we were talking about how it'd be great if this "idealism"-based group (of 5-6 of us) could be together in whichever service we got/remained and promote/propagate it. Fortunately or unfortunately, Swapnil was the only one to get into the IAS (one other batch-mate got the IPS).
In a batch notorious for its delinquent behaviour and studious violation of rules, principles and general sense of idealism, Swapnil gave hope as a fellow comrade - someone whose thoughts you could echo, someone with whom you could share your disillusionment without fear of being ostracized as an "inconvenient idealist", "pro-establishment guy", etc.

When we were preparing for the interview, Swapnil took it upon himself to update his blog on everything we studied - - converting it into a fantastic repository for interview preparation.

Farewell Swapnil, you were someone I had (and will continue to have) tremendous respect for - you were number one on the list of people I wanted to get through to the IAS. I am sure you will make a fabulous IAS officer. Have that sense of idealism running high and remember our motley group of "idealists". Would love to exchange notes with you from time to time and look forward to working with you some time in the future!
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