FROM A Nation in the Making, published nearly a century ago – in 1925- by Surendra Nath Banerjea (also called Surrender Not Banerjea) to The Making of Modern India, it has indeed been a very long journey. Civil servants are in a way, compulsive pen-pushers – but the transition to becoming a compelling writer is a challenge! The Making of Modern India is thus both a challenge and an opportunity for contemporary civil servants to put their thoughts on paper even as they address the questions which their mentor Surendra Nath Banerjea had raised a century ago. Of course, the difference is that no one today has an iota of doubt of the growth trajectory of our nation.
Let us begin by asking the first question. When and how do nations become successful? Is it political leadership? Is it natural resources? Is it an institution? Is it the permanent bureaucracy or is it a complex of all the factors taken together? Well, the answer is to be seen in ‘The Art of Leading in a Borderless World’ by C Panduranga Bhatta and Pragyan Rath, who argue that the power of a nation, ‘Raj Shakti’, is actuallythe coming together of Prabhu Shakti – the power of the sovereign, coupled with Mantrana Shakti and Utsah Shakti.
In my view the Prabhu Shakti represents the political executive, the Mantrana Shakti vests with the Joint Secretaries and Secretaries who actually perform the governance functions, and the younger officers – who are out there in the field – delivering services – from health to education to nutrition – and these days – infrastructure as well – represent Utsah Shakti- the zest, energy and exuberance required to achieve results.
The thirty-one articles in this compendium of officers from 1996-2004 batches is an interplay of the three. It is a kaleidoscope of some of the most important interventions in the last seventy five years of our independence. Many are success stories- but there are also narratives of how we could not optimise our potential.
Each chapter begins with a quote, which sets the context for the content. PK Basu starts his note by Satyamev Jayate – Truth shall prevail. The Foreword sets the tone and the tenor for this book. In one of his speeches for the ITP at the Academy, Rajiv Gauba had said “IAS officers may or may not be experts in their respective domains – which again is being addressed through Karamyogi– but they are unparalleled when it comes to understanding the context.”
According to him “We are context specialists – for us understanding the setting and the eco-system in which action has to be performed. We understand the field – the Ksetra – as it is called in the ‘Bhagwad Geeta’ better than anyone else.”
NIFTEM founder V-C
The first chapter is from Ajit Kumar, the Founder V-C of the NIFTEM (National Institute of Food Technology and Entrepreneurship) and the IICTP (Indian Institute of Crop Processing), who talks about the challenges of setting up the two top-notch world-class institutions. Your columnist has visited NIFTEM, and can vouch for both, the physical infrastructure, as well as the quality of teachers and the pedagogy of learning. More than the grant of funds by the Agriculture and Food Processing ministries, it is this institution which will bring about the actual transformation in the integrated value chain for food businesses.
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