Thursday, June 2, 2016

One Last Time – Perhaps, and Perhaps Not!

(Disclosure: This, of course, wasn’t meant to be uploaded here but on the CGDA website and written accordingly; even there is a reference first up to my last message as CGDA on September 30, 2015. Last week, I had spoken with Shri S.K. Kohli, then Additional CGDA [now CGDA-in-charge from June 1, 2016], when he had visited my office in South Block and mailed it to his personal email ID on May 31, 2016. When it wasn’t uploaded till the evening of June 1, 2016, I spoke to Shri Kohli with a request to kindly upload immediately and sent him yet another email attaching the Message. Nothing happened though. I waited and waited – for another full day and a bit, anxiously awaiting the CGDA to upload. Sadly, that wasn’t to be. Having exhausted all options and not to lose any more time, coupled with the fact that I didn’t wish to leave my extended family of DAD staff and officers without one final Message conveying the contours of my thoughts after being a part of this family all my working years, the same is published here, though not without ample regret and with a stab of pain that one wouldn’t like to carry as a parting shot. I would have appreciated if I were told that the content was too disturbing to carry as a legacy and hence it wasn’t possible for the CGDA organization to upload the Message of the FA(DS) on his retirement, who incidentally also once served as the CGDA not too long ago, and had initiated the practice of communicating with the entire DAD family from time to time through his messages From the CGDA’s Desk (still available in the CGDA website). Hence this clarification, to grant the message the much needed “clarity, nostalgia and placement” – no kinship sought with the Defence Accounts Placement Board (DAPB)’s proceedings and office notes I had put out in public domain for sake of transparency and openness, which everyone is familiar with. Alas! Amen!) 

The last message I wrote was From the CGDA’s Desk, exactly eight months ago when I bid adieu to you all from the Department and joined the Ministry of Defence. Now the time has come for me to bid a final adieu on my superannuation from government service. It’s been a long journey – from Patna to Siliguri to Meerut to New Delhi to Balasore to New Delhi to Pune to New Delhi to Bangalore and finally New Delhi – almost a marathon one trotted and at times cantered along. But all the while it was one change after another that followed in interminable succession, while as years rolled by, the change became the constant. And it was this constancy of change that has stayed with me, and it is this I’m going to take it to my superannuated years.

It is difficult to convince people how happy I am – to retire! In fact, I’ve been getting happier by the day as the day of my transfer to the pension establishment has gotten closer. Now that I’ve reached the finish line I am thrilled to distraction. It will grant me time to relax and indulge my passion that I always strove for but never got in ample measure. I never harboured any ambition of a post-retirement sinecure or even a temporary employ in Committees/Commissions which most retired bureaucrats often aspire for. In point of fact, I have always abhorred any thoughts of post-retirement sinecures because I believe such favours often compromise civil servants’ role as honest advisers in the government (especially in the last years of service when they hold senior responsible positions) and have, over the past several years, placed my thoughts in the public domain in my columns in national newspapers and in my books. Even I have teased and tantalized the favour-seekers tempting them if a more permanent solution couldn’t be found in retiring retirement!

Transparency was – still is, shall always remain – too dear to divorce myself from, even in retirement. In my thinking, all scams and scandals trace their origin to opacity and secrecy. Opacity, born out of secrecy, breeds manipulations. Much hullabaloo is made of in the name of secrecy to shroud things, quite strange in today’s time, when the world thanks to technology pretty well knows what the other person is up to. Transparency is the answer to ridding wrong decisions and illegitimate moves – of corruption, nepotism and manipulation. Sunlight is the best disinfectant available freely and in plenitude. It must be invoked and leveraged. The mere openness of processes scuppers any invidious moves to perpetrate wrongs. Instead, it creates a level playing field. In India today, sadly, the distribution of opportunity has typically become an insider trade. It’s a win-win for networkers! This needs to be busted.

In my own humble way, it has always been my constant endeavour to impugn this system so rife with nepotism, and where I saw opacity ruling like a potentate. Transparency and an arm’s length system I tried to put in place all my life, fully convinced that it was the only way to take the processes of change and progress forward. Of all that I did during my short tenure as CGDA, transparency was at the top of the heap. Putting the processes in the public domain came naturally to me. I saw transparency working its own magic, empowering people all around and granting voice to the voiceless. Fairness and objectivity became the jingle. I tried to set them in stone. I came to realize how powerful a weapon transparency is. It exceeded even my wildest imagination. I carried the same baton when I moved over to the Ministry of Defence. I did whatever was possible on my part, working up a furious pace and in the roller coaster ride if the processes upset the high and the mighty I was as unfazed as ever. So be it, I told myself. And I let it be. As a card-carrying transparency (st) – a cyst that’s stayed with me all my living years – I didn’t care less when the networkers screamed and ranted before scurrying for cover. I enjoyed their disquiet, their discomfiture.

As Father Time moves on, the old order changes, the new takes over, and we must make way gracefully. But the constants of transparency, objectivity and fairness shall always remain, and only because they are a part of human verities. They have always been a part of me and shall always stay that way as lodestar, buzzing about my head and finding utterance at every available opportunity. I shall carry this with me as I begin my second innings and pursue what I always wished to but never was granted in full measure. The reason I say this, as I formally bid you adieu and officially take your leave – you the members of my extended family – is because your battle cry of fairness, honesty and transparency which I realized during our journey together shall keep me going and agog. I will resurface now in a new avatar, in my home turf, in an arena, I’ve always loved so much – my BlogSpot, Babupaedia [babupaedia.blogspot.in] – which dimmed just yet shall light up soon and hover about time and space as one (dis)interested ombudsman keeping a watchful eye over citizen’s sense of right and wrong, battling dishonesty and constantly endeavouring that the righteous have, eventually, the last laugh.

Adieu, then one last official time – perhaps, and perhaps not!


Date: May 31, 2016                                                       Sudhansu Mohanty 

11 comments:

  1. Transperancy is the answer to many of the ills that beset our system today. Monitoring and effective management can curb if not totally kill the canker of corruption that has and is continuing to eat away at our innards. I hope this - transperancy will be the watchword of our future.

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  2. Righteous shall undoubtedly have a last laugh when a fighter and enlighter like U acts as an unofficial Ombudsman of not only DAD but the whole country. But also remember Lord Krishna's caution" कर्मण्ये वाधिकारसत्ये मा फलेषु कदाचन".ShyamSingla

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  3. Sir,
    Wishing you a happy retired life. With regards .
    Mrs. Jaya (ex- DAD)

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  4. Sir, Wishing you a very happy retired life. I learnt a lot working under your guidance at PCDA Bangalore. Regards, ANAND MOHAN REDDY.

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  5. Sudhansu, I have read your farewell message with anguish, both personal and professional. I rushed through the prologue, expecting something blasphemous in your leave-taking. As I reached the last line, I could not believe that was the end of it. I went back to reading from the beginning, for I thought I might have missed some hint of irreverence. Again I found your every word and syllable correct and cordial. I am left wondering as to what in your post, which talks of ethical and transparent working, could be considered bad or corrupting for the members of the ‘IDASTIMES SOCIAL’ or the Department at large!

    Reading your message that traced your journey in the Department, my mind goes back to the time when we joined as probationers in Meerut. My batch-mates (with known exception) with whom I trained in the IDAS have been my friends for life. They are my children’s godparents, the people to whom I have been able to turn in times of trouble. During training, we were bound by enormous affection and later by our shared experience of a time that would never come again.

    The journey that we started together took you to many professional milestones. Your intelligence, your capacity for hard work and your character earned you a unique status in the Department and outside. Your personal push, your professional worth and the person you are chalked out for you an exceptional career. You have a strong GPS, which made “constants of transparency, objectivity and fairness” fulcrum of your professional life. As a result you always made right choices. You represented what the service ought to be. Not only you are an object of envy for a large number of people, you remain a matter of pride for your friends and batch-mates. We celebrate your existence.

    Now you have embarked on a journey, which will provide you greater opportunities to further enrich your life through the interests that you have cultivated and nurtured. I look forward to your blog posts and contributions in print media. The CGDA website is a vain place. You will not miss it. I wish you very good life. Farewell, my friend.





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    1. Arvind, let me say a few words to help lifting your seeming confusion about ethical and transparent working, and why it is considered bad or corrupting for IDASTIMES SOCIAL, or the Department at large. When I made the first move to achieve this, there were insurmountable efforts to stall and, failing that, spike it. Networkers quickly got working overtime. The very idea that their unchallenged suzerainty could be questioned and their nepotism exposed sent shivers down their spines. “How can anyone talk about ethics and transparency when opacity is – must be! – the presiding deity?” seemed their natural outcry. Another unspoken voice went thus: “Why foundation stones shouldn’t be laid by the CGDA & the FA(DS) when it was their birthright to do so?” And yet another, in typical hark back to feudal traditions: “Pray, why must the CGDA not wield his God-conferred power to dispense largesse at his command?” I was, in short, challenging past wisdom (read nepotism), and who the dickens was I to do so?
      Now that times have changed, why let the aberration have a day? That explains the place of ethics and transparency in our system. But what, sadly, is forgotten is that while one can retire from government employ, the same doesn’t apply for citizenship.

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  6. Hi Shekhar
    This is your middle name I have always called U by and will continue to do. Very few in the Department and outside may know this part of your name. You have always justified the purport of your middle name "Shekhar", which means the peak or summit. U have truly been at the peak when it comes to fearelessness, probity, integrity. Try to disseminate these values to beauraucracy as also the private sector world thru various forums, interactions. Shyam Singla (Hardly anyone would know my google name 'ShyamAnand'

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    1. You are right, Shyam. It goes without saying that I won't let my friends down. There can be no end to our efforts in bringing transparency centre stage in public life. Retirement is just the end of one (shackled) life, but also the beginning of another, tempered with one's long experience. I'll do my best to live up to yours and other well-meaning friends/acquaintances expectations.

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  7. Respected Sir.. it was indeed the most satisfying time of my professional life when we had embarked upon a path of bringing in transparency in the system by uploading the so called non-up loadable material and watched how the environment lapped it up. The daily hits on the website were amazing in number, the surprise and disbelief on the faces of the voiceless that such a level of transparency is indeed possible...the admonishing looks and comments of the discomfited are still alive in my memory.. still cherishing the effect of the ultimate disinfectant.. the sunlight of transparency !! I believe that it is not always for the sunlight to disinfect...it is for the infected also to have the moral will power and confidence to expose themselves to the sunlight to be disinfected. Sir.. The mission we embarked upon will continue.. with the same vigour and dedication. Best Regards.

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  8. Yes, Anugraha, I remember everything as though it were only yesterday! The long punishing hours we kept in office, working well up to 1030-1100 hrs everyday even on weekends, is fresh in my memory. How the cookies crumbled! We thought it was the end of rule by nepotism and favoritism, and rejoiced in satisfaction with all others.

    But, alas, it was not to be. The net-workers (read not-workers) made of putty clay raised their oily, greasy heads and the effect is palpable. It's a part of the same dialectics where the established order doesn't give up easily without a fight. But the sporadic win is only ephemeral. Eventually things will change – have to! – because there is no letting go. You can't stop the transparency revolution, can you! I agree the mission will continue with the same vigour and dedication, maybe with heightened passion, and expose and efface all traces of opacity and dishonesty. Bonjour!

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  9. What Mr. Mohanty says about transparency in the Bureaucracy would also completely apply to the Judiciary of today. Perhaps the same may also apply to the fourth estate. At times, for the fear of contempt what goes on in the Judiciary cannot be commented publicly. (ask Justice Kannan of P & H High Court)

    Hence conveniently shifting focus to the media I dare say that some of the media houses should be "transparent" about their affiliations to political parties and business houses. At the cost of being flippant I list some of the well known associations

    1. NDTV - Close to the Congress. (Ms. Radhika Roy is Brinda Karat's sister)

    2. CNBC TV 18 (After the exit of Raghav it is fully owned by RIL) - Appears to be close to the ruling party.

    3. Times Now (read "Arnab" Now) - Please remember Rahul's interview!

    4. Zee Group (close to the BJP)

    (Mohanty Sir I am not as brave as you. Wish you a great life ahead.)

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