Chattisgarh collectors’ high-handedness again shows urgent need for indigenising IAS

Yet another instance of IAS highhandedness has come to the fore, this time from Chhattisgarh, showing yet again what ails Bharatiya babudom. The Bharatiya bureaucracy is a remnant of British legacy and continues to suffer a colonial hangover.

The incident took place in Chhattisgarh’s Surajpur district over the weekend when IAS officer Ranbir Sharma is said to have slapped a youth, a minor as per some accounts, who said that he had stepped out to deliver food to his grandmother who has been hospitalized. This is not a lone instance and there have been several reports of citizens being treated with disdain.

Times of India report in this regard says:

Amid complete lockdown on Saturday and Sunday in Chhattisgarh’s Surajpur district, a youth was seen being beaten up by the police as he was out on the streets, the video of which is making rounds on social media. On orders of the collector, police have also filed an FIR against the boy for over-speeding the bike when intercepted by the police, under section 279 of the IPC.

Surajpur collector Ranbir Sharma told TOI, “There were allegations on social media that the boy against whom action was taken was a minor, which is absolutely false because the youth is 23-year-old. He was riding a sports bike and was out on the streets despite the lockdown imposed on Saturday and Sunday. When police tried to intercept him, he tried to escape by overspeeding the bike which could have caused injury to policemen. Later, the boy made two different statements when asked for the reason he was out. He said he had gone for vaccination and then he said his granny was admitted at the hospital.”

According to information, the youth identified as Aman Mittal, 23, was returning from a hospital where his grandmother was admitted for Covid treatment. It isn’t clear what documents he produced to the patrolling team when intercepted.

When TOI contacted the youth’s relative, Mittal had gone to the hospital to deliver food for his grandmother. Police said that an FIR was lodged against him for overspeeding despite being asked to stop, under the Epidemic Act.

There were many other videos showing people asked to do sit-ups and were fined on the spot for being out for no valid reasons. Collector Sharma said that he was out on patrolling and upon seeing people out, he questioned them for reasons they were outside home despite a lockdown being imposed. He was seen asking people to return home warning them of action.

The collector has apologized for his action. He said: ” Today a video is viral on the social media in which I am shown slapping a man who was out during lockdown. I sincerely apologize for my behavior. I never had any intention to disrespect or belittle the person in the video. In this pandemic situation district, Surajpur along with the entire Chhattisgarh state is facing the irreparable loss of life. We all government employees are striving hard to tackle this problem. My parents and I were also affected by this virus. I am now post-Covid but my mother is still positive and undergoing treatment at my home”.

Even the apology of IAS officer Ranbir Sharma, who was earlier caught accepting bribes, has an element of arrogance as he attempts to justify his actions by stating the boy wasn’t a minor. In March this year, an Odisha cop was suspended for making a pregnant woman walk in the scorching heat leading to the woman developing complications.

Babudom in general lacks empathy probably due to the fact that their training module is a continuation of the British Era. The same mindset can be seen among the judiciary as well like when we heard Justice DY Chandrachud speaking. The basic issue with both bureaucracy and judiciary is a total disconnect with the country’s ethos, culture, and Dharma.

It is important that IAS cadres are trained to be respectful of the country’s civilization, people, and culture. At present, the grounding that is given to them in the form of the material they read before exams (newspapers like The Hindu are recommended reading), in their Mussoorie training institute, and in their jobs that their job is to control society, and civilize/transform its citizen, only instill a sense of entitlement.

Bureaucracy needs to be taught that they are to serve people and not control them. They need to be instilled with a sense of empathy rather than entitlement.

(Featured Image Source: ToI)


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