BHASKAR GHOSE

In

Bhaskar Ghose is a writer, columnist and theatre person besides being an Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer, retired after 36 years in the bureaucracy. His myriad experiences have found their way into his latest book, ‘The Service Of The State- The IAS reconsidered’ and his art of pulling his characters to life can be witnessed in his novels namely, ‘Parricide’ and ‘The Teller Of Tales’.

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GARHWAL POST INTERVIEW

How have you been able to develop as a person owing to Civil Services?

I wish I could say that I really developed in any sense as I still have a feeling that I could have done a good deal more than what I did. Nevertheless, in the Civil Services you learn to do the best you can, in whichever position you are given. If you give that job the best that you can you will be able to sleep well and lead a quiet and trouble free life thereafter.

How do you think has the culture of Civil Services evolved over these years?

I left the Civil Services quite some time ago and the services today seem to have certainly changed quite drastically from what it really began. Initially it was a service of administrators, rulers in a sense in the districts, the decision makers in the secretariat. It has now changed into service where one has basically to carry out orders. But the dark, ugly element of change, however, is that an increasingly large number of civil servants are becoming courtiers and sycophants. Earlier these were seen around Maharajas or Nawabs; now, however, they are seen to be around political netas and even their flunkeys. The fact that a growing number of young civil servants are failing to serve the constitution first to which they vow allegiance while joining is dangerous.

Was it the everyday reality of a civil servant's life which took over your pen while writing the book, 'The Service Of The State'?

My personal experiences, certainly, went into the making of my book, but the basic premise of the book is, ‘Is the IAS still relevant?’ In answering that I have drawn upon my own experiences and that of some colleagues. I argue that the IAS is still relevant; the argument is mostly in the last chapter.

We would like to know about your literary endeavours. Kindly share.

My daughter tells me how people prefer nonfiction these days and don’t really pay much of the attention to novels. She is right, but the fault is to a great extent that of the writers. The kind of books that one sees being passed off as ‘literary’ novels is astonishing. It’s not difficult to write of a fakir lying on a wall eating a cockroach, or of a man standing on his head in the middle of Connaught Place, and claim that these have great significance as metaphors, or whatever. I feel it is possible, but perhaps more difficult, to write a good clear story and invest the characters with a life of their own, and in the interactions the story can enrich the reader. It can be kept simple, readable. Anyway, that’s what I feel, and that’s how I have written my novels. My first novel named ‘TheTeller of Tales’ is a story revolving around – predictably! –two IAS officers. Arunava who is secretive by temperament, yet, ends up sharing stories with Tapan, his friend, after a couple of drinks. However, as Tapan listens to his stories he discovers that they mix fact and fiction. How, and why, is what the book reveals. My second novel, Parricide, is a story of a man’s journey from hatred towards empathy. It revolves around the fact of choices we make and the price we must pay for even partial resolutions. I have to confess that I was influenced, but only slightly, by Aeshcylus’ series of three tragedies, the Oresteia.

What are you looking forward to in the Art and Literature Festival, Valley Of Words?

I am very excited about the upcoming Festival as more than anything else the idea of meeting creative people is what keeps me motivated. I strongly believe that the true beauty of these festivals lies in the fact of how creatively the moderator, in particular, and the audience, in general, can get the writers to talk- some writers who are not too articulate when it comes to speaking about their own work. I am really looking forward to meeting some.

Is the Hindi syllabus in the current education system enough to ignite the minds of the students and interest them in the subject?

Why not? It’s not that the Hindi syllabus is not good enough. I think it’s a matter of thought merely and we’re suffering from a syndrome where English is considered a language of the elite. We should be proud of our mother tongue

What in your opinion regarding the budding writers of today who aspire for not the best but best sellers?

Some of them are writing well but some of them write only to become best sellers – they have no substance and their work is over rated.

What are you looking forward to in the upcoming Art and Literature Festival?

I am looking forward to meeting other good writers and to interact with them. Would definitely want my own literature to reach others who do not know me. It will be a good opportunity to be with the book lovers and breathe literature!


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