|Jagdish Sonkar (photo courtesy: Twitter)|
BY NOW, you must have seen this photo in social media sites. The photo of 2013 batch Chhattisgarh cadre IAS Jagdish Sonkar while speaking to a patient in a government hospital and resting one foot on the bedrail, went viral last week, forcing the IAS Association terming the act as “shocking and unacceptable” and state chief minister Raman Singh instructing the general administration department of the state to train new officers in social behaviour and public dealing. Sonkar, who is an MBBS-turned IAS, on his part called his act as unjustifiable adding that it was “unintentional and thoroughly avoidable”. Here is the full text of his apology letter, as posted in a social media site:
This post is to tender an open, unconditional apology in response to the picture of mine that is being circulated in social media and newspapers. No amount of words can justify the said act, although it was unintentional and thoroughly avoidable. I understand the harm the act has inflicted on the image of civil service fraternity. I apologize to each one of them. I also thank people who stood by me, from among media, fraternity, friends and family, during this times of tough scrutiny. I thank those who have reserved their opinions and judgements, and have not concluded on me, based upon the picture alone. I reassure each one of you that I would stick to the core values of civil services— Honesty, Integrity, Objectivity, Impartiality and Civility, Modesty, Humility, Chivalry, and strive my level best to be a better civil servant and a better human being. Apologies to those hurt by the act and Gratitudes to those who stood by me.
As I am infrequent in social media, the response is delayed.
In fact, the saga began last week when Sonkar, 35, inspected a government nutrition rehabilitation centre in the state, and while interacting with a mother of a malnourished child, he casually put his left foot up on the bed rail. And someone present there clicked the photo and posted it on a social media site. The photograph went viral leading many social media users to react angrily. Sonkar, now a sub-divisional magistrate-ranked officer, originally hails from Uttar Pradesh.
Later, one of his fellow IAS officers posted a few photos of Sonkar while treating patients including tribal kids, but the damage-control exercise was too little, too late.
This chapter gets closed for now, but there is a takeaway for every bureaucrat: Social behavior is as or more important than your merits, and you must keep in mind that in today’s tech-age every person around you is actually a mobile-phone photographer. And yes, social media with millions of followers in it is less than 30 seconds away.