Vol. 6 | issue 7 | August 2012
intrigue shailaja chandra
Minister’s Rotten Pupil
One Union Health Minister wanted to build a model hospital in his constituency. His Secretary, who had no post-retirement sinecure in sight, was sulking. He sent a long hand-written note to say why the model hospital idea was “outside Central Government policy and could not be supported”.
Weary of constant stone-walling, the Minister found another ploy to garner support. He began summoning the four Joint Secretaries under him, hopeful that they might be more amenable. On such occasions, he lost no time in reminding us that the Secretary would soon retire while he would continue.
One evening, it was my turn to be singled out. He had just told me that I had the makings of a Cabinet Secretary. My only failure was that I did not know how to ‘exercise authority’.
‘I will show you how to apply the power you have,’ he said. A few minutes later, the secretary will come to see me. You please don’t get up. I will ask you to keep sitting. I want you to watch what happens. And take a lesson from that.’
At exactly 6 pm, there was a sharp knock and the Health Secretary (let me call him Sharma) walked in, with long purposeful strides with a ramrod straight spine. Quite the pukka sahib!……….READ MORE