At first glance, Ashok Khemka, 47, looks like just another bureaucrat bored with official files. But then looks, they say, are deceptive.
A 1991-batch IAS officer of the Haryana cadre, Khemka is known to dissect every official document and record his views without bothering about the might of the politician-bureaucrat alliance in the state. He does not flinch for a moment before taking a position that is at variance with his superior officers and political bosses to whom he reports.
It is for this reason that Khemka, an intelligent officer of impeccable integrity, evokes extreme reactions within the bureaucratic fraternity, most of whose members have cozy relationships with the political brass in the regime headed by Bhupinder Singh Hooda of the Congress.
While he is seen by many as a whistleblower who exposes wrongdoings in departments where he is posted, Khemka has also used the Right to Information (RTI) Act to ferret out information relating to undue favours availed of by some of his colleagues, irrespective of their position.
There are also those who accuse him of being someone who “digs out” info on his fellow bureaucrats to embarrass them. Though his intelligence and understanding of government rules and regulations are widely acknowledged, not many want him as their junior because of his forthright style of working.
His diligence and desire to excel began early. As a classmate from his school recalled, “As a student of Class 4 in St Xavier’s Collegiate School, Kolkata, Khemka had memorised every chapter of Radiant Reader to teach himself English.”
He added that Khemka — an ICSE 6-pointer — had once burst into tears in Class 10 because he had scored 99% — behind another student who had scored 100% — in a mathematics test.
A fellow IAS officer said of Khemka: “He has a passion for learning and is a voracious reader. Few in the government know more about government rules and regulations and technological advances than him.”