Our beloved Prime Minister has shown us the way – clean your neighbourhood he has declared, broom in hand. And those who work in public sector undertakings have decided to obey. The Man from Madras Musings, (and don’t ask as to what took him there) was recently witness to such an observance.
Now, this is one of those organisations where you normally find people at their desks doing what they ought to be doing at any given point of time. In that sense, this is not one of those PSUs where officers are forever in meetings and the staff is biding time reading magazines, conducting informal chit fund schemes and speculating on the stock market. But conceive MMM’s surprise when on arrival he found stacks of new brooms and wicker baskets in the rather large entrance area. Officers were being handed out brooms even as they clocked in for the day.
As MMM went in he found several seats empty and those officers who were still seated did not have their usual expressions of welcome for MMM. That day had been declared Clean India Day, said one, and explained that it had been decided to dedicate the whole day towards cleaning up of the premises. And so it was off with people like MMM. But he hung around nevertheless, wanting to see what really happened. What about the work of the organisation, wondered MMM, but desisted asking that question. In any case MMM need not have worried, for if at all anyone had to be bothered it had to be the senior officers of the organisation and there they were, all ready to go around with mops and pans, like the chorus parading as domestic staff in an opera.
A couple of officers that MMM called on had not picked up their regulation brooms as they clocked in. The peon who brought the mid-morning tea corrected that wrong by bringing the sweeping implement along and handing it over. At around 11.00 am, everyone walked out of their offices, brooms in hand. Junior officers were lined up in groups and made to march around the campus in pairs, rather like the animals that went into Noah’s Ark. The lead pair in each contingent carried banners that featured the organisation’s logo, a message on cleaning the nation from big boss in Delhi, and then a slogan that some bright spark within the company had coined – something about how this was the second year of clean-up or some such thing. MMM felt this had a deeper message than what it was supposed to ostensibly convey, but he opted not to air his views.
The troops on parade prowled around for an hour by which time the sun was quite high up in the sky and the ardour for cleaning up, never very strong to start with, had palled considerably. Most of those who had gone walkabout with the brooms returned to the portico of the main building where the staff photographer arranged them into neat poses, all of them holding brooms and then clicked them for posterity. The immediate requirement, MMM was told, was for these pictures to make it to the in-house magazine of which a copy would be sent up north. No doubt that was in the hope that powers-that-be would take notice and send career graphs spiralling upwards. Of the actual cleaning up MMM noticed little but then these are days when appearances matter the most.