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Monday, Sep 23, 2019

Not to hurt, but to heal: TSR

SOON AFTER Baburaj aur netanchal, the Hindi version of former cabinet secretary TSR Subramanian?s expose on politicians and bureaucrats, had been released by the Chief Minister Mulayam Singh Yadav on Thursday, one thought of asking the former top bureaucrat-turned author an obvious query??Why after demitting office, sir??

india Updated: Apr 21, 2006 00:23 IST

SOON AFTER Baburaj aur netanchal,  the Hindi version of former cabinet secretary TSR Subramanian’s expose on politicians and bureaucrats, had been released by the Chief Minister Mulayam Singh Yadav on Thursday, one thought of asking the former top bureaucrat-turned author an obvious query—“Why after demitting office, sir?”

TSR told HT Live, “When I took over as cabinet secretary, I spoke out against corrupt politicians how palms are greased to get things done and spoke of addressing the ills that plague the system. In fact, Jaipal Reddy, who was the Union Minister then told me that never had a bureaucrat spoken with such frankness. He told me that the points that I had raised were good even though I won’t succeed!”

The book ‘Journeys through Babudom and Netaland: Governance in India’ by this former IAS officer of UP cadre makes for delightful reading, coming as it does from someone who had seen the system from close, worked with Chief Ministers and Prime Ministers, not to mention his fellow colleagues.

And that perhaps is what makes the book interesting. For IAS officers, learn it early, not to commit their position in writing. They are, as TSR was advised when he started his career, told to “Keep their options and opinions open at all times.”

So, what made him commit himself in black and white?  “That was partly because I strongly feel that our policymakers haven’t delivered. Everything is hidden behind the curtains,” said TSR adding, “Yes, I know I have ruffled a few feathers. Some bureaucrats might feel that I have exposed the bureaucratic style of functioning. But then, the book was not intended to hurt, it was aimed as an attempt to stir people and heal the system.” CM Mulayam Singh Yadav has been written about extensively. There is the mention of CM’s address (during his first tenure as CM) to 200 odd IAS officers where he remarked, “why do you come and touch my feet, lick my shoes? Why do you come for personal favours?                  

When you do so, I will do as you desire and then extract my price from you!”
The CM, who sat through the entire two-hour function on Thursday at the Ganna Sansthan, couldn’t help a smile. Though TSR generally spoke about the CM in positive terms he, however, added, “Though, the CM was open to suggestions on most occasions, but when his political interest was strong, he would not heed any contrary advice!”

TSR added, “Though I could do little to resist the plethora of populist measures introduced by Mulayam, I had a better measure of success in resisting political interference in the matter of arbitrary transfers and postings.”

Senior bureaucrats like present chief secretary Navin Chandra Bajpai who were present on the occasion said that the book was “inspiring”.

The CM ordered that 2000 copies of the Hindi version of the book be procured immediately. The book is a must read simply because it is a treatise on how civil servants should function.

There is this incident when after riots had broken out in Aligarh how TSR had put his foot down and said “no” to a telephonic request to visit the affected locality by the then minister of state for internal security, Rajesh Pilot. When the minister insisted, TSR said, “If you go there in your capacity as Union minister, you would not be received and the DM would be instructed neither to receive you, nor provide any police escort.” UP was under President’s rule then.
How many could do that now?

First Published: Apr 21, 2006 00:23 IST