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This is my diary....what I make sense of, around me. You'll find short prose on contemporary topics that interest me. What can you expect - Best adjectives? …. hmm occasionally, tossed around flowery verbs ?…. Nope, haiku-like super-brevity? … I try to. Thanks for dropping by & hope to see you again

August 7, 2011

The Untouchables

Early last week I met one of the men behind the explosive report of the Lokayukta Justice Santosh Hegde  on the illegal mining in the state. I was waiting at the Secretariat complex to meet the e-governance head at his office when Vipin Singh ambled by. When I congratulated him, he replied in his characteristic style ‘ Kaahe ka congartulations yaar, itna kharab report niklaa hai’.  Maybe the final report was not satisfactory by his standard but in a short span of time he and his team had uncovered  a large web of illegal activities and their modus operandi  that had robbed the state to the  tune of 13000 odd crores of rupees. What he meant was had they enough time on hand they could have dug deeper like the huge mine  pits that now dot  the landscape  of bellary and the extent of uncovered  loot could have doubled.  But the Ammo on hand was enough for Justice Hegde & he had to fire it before taking the final bow as the Lokayukta.

I had extensively interacted with this career IFS officer during a project execution with the forest dept. At that time he was in Bidar and his territory  was one of the 4 pilot divisions selected for the project. His name then had cropped up several times during my meeting with the Sr officials & I had quickly gathered his  reputation as a sharp no-nonsense IT savvy official in the  dept.  An alumnus of IIT , he had done some excellent work in the e-govenance areas while on deputation, notably setting up the citizen service initiatives like  the BangaloreOne delivery centres.  When I first met him,  I wondered what a guy like him was doing in a far flung place like Bidar ? In his characteristic nonchalant way he replied that it was a conscious decision and he wanted it that way . Maybe  he had opted  to be ‘far from the madding crowd’  after a heavy duty assignment that  had him in the quagmire of  politics ,  and murky administration . ‘Khoon Jalana padta hai’  I recollect he had said about the nature of work. Our interactions over the next couple of days was intensive & meaningful and then I was back in Bangalore. 
Soon  I heard that he was once again recalled to Bangalore to head the state SWAN (state wide area network) initiative. I chuckled at the thought  that hard as wanted to be out of the limelight  it dragged him into it.  Later several times I had passed by his new  office but found it conspicuous by his absence . Strange I felt till the time I saw this recent article in ToI 
It now  emerges that he was one of the 5 people picked by Justice Hegde  to  have a go at the mafia. Exactly the way  Kevin Costner (Eliot Ness) goes about  in the movie ‘the Untouchables’  - a special team of agents handpicked for their courage and incorruptibility, nicknamed by its title. 

And undercover they went about their new assignment while they held to usual official positions on paper . Another official, Bishwajeet Mishra who was a part of this team , and whom I had interacted on few occasions even attended one of my workshop in his official capacity of a DFO . He probed me with some searching questions during the workshop & little did I realize then that he was into something else. 

These officials worked discreetly , put their lives & limbs on the line of fire (and as Justice Hegde mentioned in an interview on NDTV the other day – he even feared for their careers) and away  from the glare & glimmer of limelight.  Unlike Hegde they have not walked into sunset,  they will still be around (for greater things perhaps) but their collective  reputation like the ‘ The Untouchables’  will hopefully be remembered for time to come. 

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