Burden of a favour

KR Bharti

ONE day I happened to meet on the Mall a former colleague who had just retired from the service and found him in a cheerful mood. “What makes you so happy, my friend?” I asked.

“Sir, I have been given re-employment by the government soon after my retirement. His Excellency, the Governor of Himachal Pradesh, has been pleased to appoint me as officer on special duty (OSD) in a significant board for a year,” he said with pride, pulling out the orders from his pocket in confirmation.

“Oh, that’s excellent indeed! Only the competent and the confidants of the government get extension in service or re-employment,” I said, feeling happy in his happiness.

After exchanging some more pleasantries, we went our separate ways. Two months later, I met him at the Ridge and again found him beaming with happiness.

“You look very happy again! What pleasing news do you have to share today?”

“Sir, I am no longer in the service. The Governor has been pleased to remove me from the assignment,” he broke the news to me without a frown on his face.

“So early! I can’t believe it. What happened?” I asked a little surprised.

“Hardly had I dug my heels into my new assignment, when the Chairman of the board began asking me to do things which did not fit into the rules and regulations of the board. When I could not oblige him, he showed me my place thus: ‘Mr, I was the one to recommend your case for re-employment even though there were many other competent officers in line. And now you have the temerity to show me the rules! Did I show you the rules then? It is give and take, my friend’.”

“Didn’t you try to win peace with him?”

“I tried but he was not prepared to listen. He had his own axe to grind setting at naught all norms. I didn’t wish to carry the burden of obligation by doing things that neither fit into the rules nor into the dictates of my conscience. It is better to live with pension than to live with tension, Sir. I politely declined all the unpleasant demands thrust on me. In the next few days, the Governor was pleased to truncate my services. I could not save the job but I have saved my conscience,” he said.

“So, you have no regrets for losing your job?”

“None at all. Our services are at the pleasure of H.E. the President at the Centre and H.E. the Governor in the state. This is what we call the ‘doctrine of pleasure’ enshrined in Article 310 of the Constitution of India. Like these dignitaries who maintain ‘pleasure’ both at the time of appointment and dismissal of a person, why can’t we maintain our poise in both good and bad times? The pleasure of H.E. is guided by the Constitution whereas we need only to invoke our conscience for our pleasure,” he philosophised.

I was impressed by his persona. I found in him a true stoic of the Bhagavadagita — the one stirred neither by joy nor by grief. At the same time, I learnt a lesson that favours are not without their burden.

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