A Few Good Men

Perhaps the only time in history that a bureaucrat's job has been glamorous was during the British Raj. In the course of a typical day, an officer of the Indian Civil Service (ICS) might have been called upon to judge a case in which a jealous husband had chopped off his wife's nose, arrange for rice to reach a famine-stricken town, meet a local maharajah for tea, and then wind down by heading off into the jungle to shoot a panther. Then again, everything about the ICS was extraordinary—not least, the immense power wielded by an astonishingly small bureaucracy: in 1901,...

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