Song of The King­fisher

The Day After - - CONTENT - By ASit MANohAr Feed­back on:re­porter@dayaf­

Ram Verma is an IAS who spent his en­tire ca­reer in Haryana ex­cept a brief shift to Delhi which didn’t lasted even for a month. He was one of those non-Pun­jabi IAS’ who were hav­ing Pun­jab cadre in un­di­vided Pun­jab. When Haryana was carved out from Pun­jab, he among other non-Pun­jabi IAS’ were shifted in Haryana cadre, which Verma ac­cepted with grace. Af­ter that he saw the in­cep­tion, growth, rise of nepo­tism in pol­i­tics and cor­rup­tion and off-course some good work be­ing done by the state gov­ern­ments of Haryana dur­ing his pe­riod of job that lasted till 2000. Though, Verma has ti­tled this book ‘My En­coun­ters With The Three Lals of Haryana’, the book is all about Ram Verma and his work that saw the rise and fall of three Lals — Bansi Lal, Chaud­hary Devi Lal and Bha­jan Lal. Prob­a­bly, he chose or agreed to pub­lisher’s view on the ti­tle to catch eye­balls of the read­ers.

This book has thir­teen chap­ters in which the au­thor has nar­rated his jour­ney as an IAS which in­ci­den­tally co­in­cide with in­cep­tion of Haryana as 17th In­dian state on Novem­ber 1, 1966. First four chap­ters are de­voted to au­thor’s early jour­ney, which speaks vol­ume how much this book is about three Lals. But, to au­thor’s credit, he has rightly pointed out that short lived gov­ern­ment dur­ing the Lals time in Haryana hit the state which was in nascent phase. Had there been a sta­ble gov­ern­ment in Haryana and three Lals shouldn’t have in­volved into the round chair game of throne, then Haryana could have been a much bet­ter state than it is these days. How­ever, the au­thor gives credit to the state that even af­ter top­sy­turvy sit­u­a­tion in Haryana power cor­ri­dors, the state econ­omy has boomed and in fact sur­passed its par­ent state Pun­jab — though he fail to men­tion how much is its vicin­ity to Delhi had its role in this eco­nomic boom in the state. He also fails to men­tion, if there had been smooth power sup­ply to the in­dus­trial clus­ters devel­oped in the state af­ter par­ti­tion, what could have been the sta­tus of in­dus­trial health in Haryana? Thoug, he touches that part when he was posted in Power Min­istry of the state and Bansi Lal asked him to sup­ply power in vil­lages at pri­or­ity rather giv­ing pri­or­ity to the in­dus­tries — in­di­cat­ing power sup­ply short­age in the state.

While com­par­ing the dif­fer­ent regimes of Bansi Lal, Devi Lal and Bha­jan Lal, the au­thor has put his power be­hind Bansi Lal as the chief ar­chi­tect of mod­ern Haryana which can be un­der­stood as he was at his peak of his ca­reer (prin­ci­pal sec­re­tary) when Bansi Lal was the Chief Min­is­ter. He also gives credit to Devi Lal for con­tin­u­ing the process of mak­ing of Haryana be­ing ini­ti­ated by his pre­de­ces­sor Bansi Lal. It is also well un­der­stood be­cause the au­thor was again Prin­ci­pal Sec­re­tary in Devi Lal gov­ern­ment.

Un­know­ingly or know­ingly, it looks that the au­thor is hav­ing the com­mon bu­reau­crat dis­ease that it’s IAS who run the gov­ern­ment not the leader. To es­tab­lish this as­ser­tion with proper rea­son, au­thor has given an ex­am­ple in which he nar­rates the story of trans­port depart­ment where he was posted dur­ing one of the Lals gov­ern­ment and he was asked to award trans­port per­mit in de­fecto man­ner which the au­thor in his words ‘de­clined’ to do and got trans­ferred. He tries to au­then­ti­cate his ver­sion cit­ing, “had the gov­ern­ment paid heed to his ob­jec­tions, the cor­rup­tion sur­faced af­ter some days which marred the Lals later on could have been avoided.”

There­fore, in an in­di­rect man­ner, this book tells you the role of a bu­reau­crat in suc­cess or fail­ure of a gov­ern­ment. Au­thor also re­veals that be­ing close to all three Lals dur­ing his en­tire ca­reer as an IAS, Bansi Lal and Devi Lal were con­cerned about the poor con­di­tion of farm­ers in the state and were al­ways ready to work for them. But, he also re­veals that had they cul­ti­vated such kind of ap­a­thy among their suc­ces­sors, po­lit­i­cal con­di­tion in Haryana could have been dif­fer­ent. Au­thor gives credit for high ir­ri­ga­tion wa­ter sup­ply be­ing done dur­ing the ten­ure of Bansi Lal, which was sec­onded by his suc­ces­sor Devi Lal in Haryana. But, it looks that au­thor is se­vere against Bha­jan Lal as he gives all credit for the bad things hap­pen­ing in Haryana in the name of ‘aaya ram gaya ram’ pol­i­tics which fi­nally led to anti-de­fec­tion law be­com­ing a leg­is­la­tion. Tech­ni­cally, it’s dif­fi­cult to prove and so does the au­thor be­cause all three Lals were indulged in same prac­tice. Prob­a­bly, he has rated three Lals of Haryana on the ba­sis of his rapport with them.

So, in short, the book is like a King­fisher song. As King­fisher bird sings to re­gale her­self the au­thor too looks has writ­ten this book to re­vere him­self.

Ti­tle: My En­coun­ters With The Three Lals of Haryana

Pub­lisher: Rupa Publi­ca­tions In­dia Pri­vate Lim­ited

No. of Pages: 320

Price: `595/-

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