Monday, August 24, 2015

Training Has Fun and More: A young customs officer gives 20 tips for civil servant probationers

THIS Indian Revenue Service (Customs and Central Excise) officer is better known as Cowmaaa in social media platforms. And he claims, like many veteran civil servants, that the training period of a civil servant is one of the most interesting ones. After all, this phase lays the foundation for the rest of one’s career, and for some individuals it also changes one’s life. Here are Cowmaaa’s 20 tips on how to take initiatives, how to be receptive of change and what all you must do when you find your soul-mate in the academy. Read on:

1. Never be preachy. Folks, especially in the Service and that too, during probation, tend to stay away from preachy people, particularly from batch-mates. You are not here to correct others. Correct yourself if you can.
2. Keep your rules to yourself. More specifically adherence to rules. Don’t be overly loud about your adherence to rules. People are, in general, allergic to rule-adherence. Just like how justice should not only be done, but seen to be done, likewise, you being a strict follower of rules is one thing, but to be seen to be a strict follower of rules is quite something else.
3. You will constantly be judged whether you like it or not. Funnily, it is not only your actions but your inaction as well that will be judged. Also, people will, within a few interactions, sub-consciously stereotype you. It is an inherent trait. Why, even you will see yourself doing it. People are more comfortable bracketing you into groups/cliques.
4. Try to get a conceptual understanding of whatever law is taught. Theory can always wait, be as hands-on as possible, especially when interacting with seniors. Field-experience always helps.
5. Regionalism exists. Deal with it.
6. There will be ample opportunities to travel. Use this to go to new places, not to go back to your home town (unless you have pressing reasons). You will never get the opportunity to travel free with no pressure in your mind and deadlines to meet.
7. Love-Life – Ahem. It’s great if you manage to find your soul-mate here, but ideally, get committed once both you and your girl/guy are both settled in a service (whether same or different). Umpteen stories abound of couples forming in FC/training only for them to go down the drain a year later because one of them got a different service. Avoidable heartbreak.
8. At all times, be cognizant of the fact that you are being paid. Try to do at least a little justice to the salary the government pays you.
9. Take initiatives. There is much you can do here. Do not worry about how small or insignificant your initiative might be. Every initiative is welcomed here. And if it is useful to your batchmates, nothing like it!
10. Stay away from negativity. There will be no dearth of people cribbing about stuff – whether it be the salary, the service, Sarkar, what not. Negativity is contagious, positivity isn’t quite. Be positive – That is the only thing that will keep you going.
11. Identify problems, but constantly keep looking for solutions. People with solutions are always wanted, especially in Sarkar. And this is the kind of people we need, if we want to take the nation forward.
12. Don’t have sky-high expectations from your batch-mates. Your batch is, after all, a microcosm of the nation at large. Elitest, intelligent'est, etc. you all might be, but there will be generous doses of hypocrisy, biases, groupism, revulsion towards rules, jealousy, pettiness, narrow-mindedness etc. This is important because it helps you prepare for what you’re going to face for the next 25-30 years.
13. Be receptive to change. Food, clothing, habits – if it helps you improve and be a better individual, government servant or citizen. Or simply if it is more convenient to you.
14. There will be periods during training when you’ll feel bored, pointless, etc. Always be involved in some kind of activity or the other – whether with the academy or among your group of friends.
15. There is too much to be learnt, understood and done for you to be bored. And mind you, I’m not talking about class or studies!
16. All said and done, your batch will comprise probably the most diverse set of people you would have ever come across in your life. The diversity is so staggering that it might sometimes overwhelm you. This is diversity in its most comprehensive sense – geography, caste, religion, region, social standing, etc. You’ll meet people with incredible stories, crazy profiles and awesome personalities. Each person is a source of wisdom, intelligence and knowledge – in most cases how to be (and in a few, how not to be too).
17. Treat everyone with respect – irrespective of their designation. It is quite natural that our newly acquired designation, fancy as it sounds, along with the power it entails, might disorient us and make our heads heavy, however treat even your subordinates with respect.
18. Leave a legacy – to your institution, your service and your juniors. One of the fundamental problems in India is how bad we are at knowledge-transfer, thus causing your juniors to repeat the same mistakes you did. Committing the same mistakes is a crime. There should always be novelty, even in mistakes.
19. Have loads of fun. Make the best use of your training. You have a challenging 2-3 decades ahead of you. Make good friends in your batch. When the chips are down or when drinks are on the house, there should always be a batchmate just a phone-call away.
20. All the very best! Bharat Sarkar welcomes you!

Cowmaaa writes in his blog that he is “Indian, Iyer, Tamilian, Theist and Vegetarian” but adds that he has been trying to “dig deeper” and “attach meaning” to his identity! An interesting blog from a young officer. Your may check out cowmaaa dot blogspot dot in

2 comments:

  1. Keep your eyes and ears open, always.And your mouth shut.

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