How LBSNAA Transformed Over The Years
- Indian Masterminds Bureau
- Published on 11 Oct 2020, 1:15 pm IST
- 6 minutes read
As the newly-recruited Civil Service Probationers join the 95th foundation Course at Lal Bahadur National Academy of Administration in Mussoorie on Monday, October 12, 2020 let us have a close look at the place that they will cherish in their memories life-long – courtesy “A-Z of Civil Services”, a recently published book by Dr Kush Verma, IAS (Retd).
- A birds eye view of LBSNAA at Mussoorie
The Lal Bahadur National Academy of Administration, Mussoorie, (better known simply as the ‘Academy’), is different things to different people. It is the Holy Grail to all Civil Service aspirants. To the IAS ofﬁcer, it is his ‘Karmabhumi’, (difﬁcult to deﬁne— the world-stage where your deeds play out), where he is initiated into the bureaucracy and returns frequently as a battle-scarred veteran. To the Faculty, it is an oasis of peace after the rigours of the field or the arid environs of the Secretariat.
No matter what the category, one thing is certain—the Academy resides in the heart and mind of anyone with anything to do with the Civil Services. The Academy is both a construct and a concept. As a construct of bricks and mortar, it nestles at a height of just over 2000 metres in the salubrious Charleville campus. A
Originally built as the Charleville hotel around 1870, its name is supposedly based on the hotel owner’s sons, Charlie and Billy. As a concept, it is the repository of a million memories for the thousands of ofﬁcers that have passed through its hallowed gates. The two fuse to form a crucible where the talents of the country’s finest brains are honed for public service.
I have been singularly lucky to observe the evolution of this Alma Mater of the IAS over a period of three and a half decades. My first exposure was as a wide-eyed Probationer who had just joined the Service in the early eighties. Later, as a jaded civil servant, I received a fresh lease of life as head of the Academy’s sister institution, the National Centre for Administrative Research.
As far as physical progress is concerned, the Academy has shown a steady upward curve. In my time as a Probationer, the Academy had a shabby, down-at-heel appearance. The rooms were musty, the floors uneven and the paint literally peeling off the walls. In short, the resemblance to a Grande Dame who had fallen on hard times, wrinkled, gouty, and missing a few teeth, was striking.
Flash forward to today, and LBS, NAA could pass off as a boutique hotel. The game-changer was the decision to grant the conduct of Mid-career Training programmes of the IAS to the Academy in 2007. Keeping pace with the enhanced entitlements of senior officers, spanking new facilities came up almost overnight.
The premises now boast four quadruples: Administrative / Lecture halls ( Karmshila, Dhruvshila, Gyanshila, and Aadharshila ), swanky Executive accommodation, ( Silverwood, Mahanadi, Happy Valley and Valley View), modest OT hostels ( Ganga, Kaveri, Narmada and Indira Bhavan ), and supporting facilities ( Sampurnanand Auditorium, Gandhi Smriti Library, Happy Valley Sports Ground and the Kalindi Guest House ). The Ofﬁcer Trainees are now spoilt for choice!
Life at LBS has also undergone a sea-change. In the 80s, there was a joyous mix of academic and extra-curricular activities. Classes would get over by 3, and by 4 the sports ground would be swarming with trainees trying their hand at tennis, badminton, T-T, squash, whatever.
There were enjoyable outings, too, (with learnings galore), in the form of treks, the Village visit, the Army attachment, and cultural events. The work-life balance had reached near perfect equilibrium. Karmashila Courtesy: LBSNAA, Mussoorie.
The Academy denizens at that time were known as ‘Probationers’. A particularly detested sub-species was known as ‘KTPs’, or ‘Keen Type Probationers’. These were largely bespectacled nerds who diligently completed assignments, boned up on all the reading literature and asked convoluted questions just before lunch-time. KTPs are now extinct, not least because the term ‘Probationers’ itself has been replaced by the phrase ‘Ofﬁcer Trainees’.
Legend has it that this revolutionary change came about when an American delegation pointed out its similarity to those jail-birds who were out on ‘probation’. Much water has flown down Kempty Falls since those heydays and the current crop of OTs are a harried lot.
Successive Course Directors have added their own pet projects to the trainee syllabus, resulting in an activity overload. Starting at the crack of dawn with a punishing 3 km round trek for P.T., an O.T. is snowed under with lectures, seminars, India/Zonal days, policy papers, blood donation camps, short and long treks, river-rafting, cultural and club events —whew! When it exhausts me to merely list the activities, the OTs’ plight can be easily visualised. No wonder, the Gross Academy Happiness quotient is now heavily in the red.
The Director’s Ofﬁce Courtesy: LBSNAA –
Introduction of LBSNAA by K.K. Pathak, IAS Be that as it may, the one constant in the OT’s life—–no surprises here—is matchmaking. For a homesick OT looking for emotional succour, romance blooms in unexpected places. Thereafter, hectic manipulation follows to ensure that the love-birds are in the same Counsellor Group, Trek, Army and other ‘attachments’ (pun intended!) Where there is a love triangle, the complications can well be imagined.
Sometimes, this exercise can take a darker hue, as when the purpose of matrimony is to effect a Cadre change. The height of such cynicism was reached when an O.T., who was selected on the back of a brilliant attack on dowry in his Essay Paper, sold himself to the highest matrimonial bidder!
At its best, the Academy is a fascinating mix of a temple of learning, a sporting paradise, a debating society and a cultural hot-spot. Its occupants live a charmed life of adventure, romance and excitement, sprinkled with the star-dust of a challenging but rewarding career.
No wonder, at every Batch get-together the talk veers around to the hi-jinks in the Academy. And the conversation inevitably ends with a full- throated chorus
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