Tale of two clerks

Q-How do you insult a manager?
A-Tell him that he works like clerk.

Perhaps that motivated Manoj Kumar to make movie called “Clerk”, it tried to project positive side of this profession-honest clerk who saves nation. But inspite of having impressive star cast, the movie flopped due to bad direction. Even clerks didn’t watch that movie!

Those who belong to Gen X like me have faced this species whenever we went to educational institutes, banks, railway reservation counter, pay utility bills etc. Most of them were unhelpful and rude.
Next generation may not face them; automation will soon make clerks an endangered species, found only in Government offices.


But at one stage job of clerk was most sought after. Lord Macaulay’s education system ensured unlimited supply of clerks from native population. Vacancies for clerk in Indian bureaucracy were filled by those who first took advantage of Lord Macaulay’s system i.e. upper caste Hindus. My great grandfather was one of them, he used to work as stenographer to governor of UP. Nehruism and socialism ensured survival of this species.

I will share stories of two clerks who changed history of India.


Balaji Vishwanath Bhat was brahmin from Konkan, he started working as clerk first with Siddis then with Marathas. Unlike Manoj Kumar he was ambitious and smart. He helped Shahu Maharaj to become next Maratha ruler. Impressed with his diplomacy Shahu Maharaj made him prime minister ( Peshwa).This post became hereditary and Bhat family produced great peshwas like Bajirao I, Balaji Bajirao and Madhavrao who expanded Maratha empire from river Krishna to Attok. It also brought into prominence the Chittapavan Brahmin community, which played key role in social and political life of Maharashtra.


Robert Clive joined East India Company as clerk. Unlike our hero Manoj Kumar- Clive was anything but honest, he had no shame in signing forged agreement with Umichand (his partner in crime, along with Mir Jafar and other bankers). After winning battle of Plassey he shamelessly looted rich province of Bengal. He was tried in Britain for corruption charges and later committed suicide. It was wealth of Bengal that helped British to subsequently conquer rest of India.
Maybe Manoj Kumar was not aware of them.


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