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Who runs India?
Satbir Singh Bedi | 24 Jul 2013

I was in tenth class when I had a tiff with my father and asked him not to go on drinking sprees and not to smoke six packets of cigarettes a day.  My father told me, "Son, it is people like me who smoke six packets of cigarettes a day and drink ten bottles of alcohol in a month who pay the most taxes and it is with these taxes called excise taxes that the various schemes of the Govt. of India are run.  So, it is people like me who are running India."  I did not answer my father back but thought in my mind as to how could a small time work charged Foreman of Bhakhra Dam that my father was, could run India.  A drunkard like him cannot run the country.  On the other hand, it is intellectuals like Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru who run the country.  At that time, Jawahar Lal Nehru was the Prime Minister.  In my innocent mind, I thought that Pandit Nehru must be supervising all the works of the Bhakhra Dam.  
 
Then I joined the Government of India Secretariat at the age of twenty three and started working very hard.  One day, I was asked to sit late in office on overtime basis and four more colleagues sat with me.  As soon as it was around six P.M., the four men opened a bottle of wine and started drinking.  I strongly objected to their action but they told me to keep quiet otherwise they would kill me.  As I did not want to die at that young age, I kept quiet. When they were a bit tipsy, they told me that even Joint Secretaries and Secretaries also drink.
 
I got in touch with a Joint Secretary when I was promoted as Section Officer on ad-hoc basis in the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting.  He invited me to his room and told me that we would both go and discuss an important project with the Ministry of Finance Official.  There was a bottle of Scotch on his table and he offered me drinks but I refused.  He smiled at me and took two double pegs from the bottle.  Then he offered me a Cigar which I somehow could not refuse and himself lit a cigar.  Then we went to the Ministry of Finance but the discussions on our project remained inconclusive.
 
Thereafter, after sometime, I was appointed on regular basis as Section Officer in the Department of Food.  My Deputy Secretary was an IAS Officer and was a Sikh gentleman. So, he could not smoke but he was fond of Tobacco and got paans laden with Tobacco and chewed them slowly enjoying things.  Then he pulled a quarter of wine from his drawer and started drinking neat.  Then a lady IAS Officer came to his room and started smoking and the whole room was filled with smoke emanating from her mouth.
 
Now, I began to understand my father's words that it was smokers and drunkards like him who ran the Government of India and hence India itself.  This was confirmed when I joined as Under Secretary in the Staff Inspection Unit of the Ministry of Finance and during my inspection of immigration department, police department, Border Security Force, Customs and Excise Departments etc., came to know that everybody was drunk on duty whether he was an immigration officer, police officer, Border Security Force Officer or Customs and Excise Officer and all of them with the exception of Sikh officers, smoked pretty heavily.  Of course, I did not drink but I also smoked 555 cigarettes imported from USA and enjoyed life and thus we all of us, smokers and drunkards, ran the Government of India and hence India as we were concerned with the policy making and also its implementation.