Yesterday, Mysuru Deputy Commissioner Rohini Sindhuri, for the first time reacted to the clean chit given to her by the three-member probe Committee of the Karnataka High Court regarding Chamarajanagar tragedy.
She said, “The Committee has cleared the name of Mysuru District Administration and several baseless and motivated statements had put a black mark on Mysuru. Unfortunately, while targeting me, they have brought a bad name to Mysuru. Those people who had made such allegations must apologise to Mysureans.” Probably what the DC really meant to say was, “They must apologise to me.” And rightfully so.
As she herself put it, “They have been targeting me from the day I assumed charge as Mysuru DC and sadly I am being personally targeted in many ways.” She was referring to two specific statements made recently.
First was from an MLA who said, “We need role model officers, like previous DCs Abhiram G. Shankar and C. Shikha and not a ‘model’.” It was a very personal attack and a sexist remark against a senior lady officer.
The other came from a local Corporator who called a press conference to point out that the DC had built a gym in her bungalow premises which had ruined the heritage value of the bungalow. We media people thought he had called the press conference to talk about covid preparedness of his Ward. But alas.
In recent times many women Officers in Mysuru have had it tough as no one stands up for them. While the MLA said former Mysuru DC Shikha was a Role Model Officer why didn’t anybody speak up for this “Role model Officer” when ex-ZP President K. Marigowda and his gang gheraoed her car in front of the Government Guest House, violently tugged at her car door and showered her with the most foul of abuses while intimidating her with dire consequences?
Worse, even after six days into Shikha filing a complaint, the Police were unable to arrest even one of the four named by the DC! Back then no one spoke up in support of this “Role Model Officer.”
Then, many may recall ATI Director-General V. Rashmi. She unearthed a scam worth crores in the Administrative Training Institute (ATI), Mysuru and she was attacked for it — a cafeteria employee threw slipper at her while another beat her over her head — no one stood up for this “Role Model Officer.”
Rashmi in her 23 years of service has been transferred 25 times! She has never been allowed to complete even one year in one Department. Is this how we treat a good officer, a widow with a young daughter?
Where was the Women’s Commission when Rashmi was threatened and beaten on live TV? Where is the IAS Officers Association when their own are getting abused? One wonders, has the IAS Officers Association become like some Trade Union leaders, who secretly side with the management?
We don’t like good officers, more so if they happen to be women who stand up for themselves. Why else would the IAS Association not say a word in support of Mysuru DC while last year it rushed to the defence of Mysuru ZP CEO P.K. Mishra who was named in the suicide of Taluk Health Officer?
Back then the IAS Association wrote to the CM saying that the FIR against P.K Mishra, “Has brought down the morale of field officers and such acts will deteriorate the administrative efficiency and effectiveness.” The Association then asked the Government to have a pragmatic and sensitive approach, and requested the Government and others to stand by its officers.
While indeed some officers are hard-working, there is another issue that is creating friction between civil servants and politicians — political ambition.
Some officers are closer to certain politicians and political parties and hence their work is seen with suspicion by Opposition party politicians. And it is no secret that Sindhuri is seen favourably by the State Government and so she may be bearing the brunt of the Opposition party politicians.
Over the years the list of bureaucrats becoming politicians has been growing, starting with leaders like Yashwant Sinha, Natwar Singh, Mani Shankar Aiyar, former LS Speaker Meira Kumar (she was an IFS Officer), Arvind Kejriwal (former IRS Officer), etc. Shockingly even former RAW Chief Sanjeev Tripathi joined BJP ! This is happening even at the State-level.
In Karnataka, Officers who entered politics include former DGP Shankar Bidari, former Bangalore Police Commissioner H.T. Sangliana, former DGP L. Revannasiddaiah, former DGP K.C. Ramamurthy, former ACP Abdul Azeem… the list goes on.
Then there was former Chief Secretary B.S. Patil who stood for elections and in 2014 former Justice C. Chandrashekaraiah stood for MP elections from Mysuru-Kodagu. More recently former Chief Secretary of Karnataka, Ratna Prabha joined the BJP and stood in Tirupathi.
So may be after Rohini Sindhuri’s success in completing the Rs. 200 crore accommodation project in Tirupathi funded by Karnataka when she was the Religious and Endowment Commissioner has led to some politicians to believe she is headed for politics and so are already on the attack.
But for now, she is still an IAS Officer and handling a pandemic. Lives have been lost and livelihoods destroyed. In these distressing times the only ones holding our system together are Government personnel led by IAS Officers. So let us be more supportive rather than critical.
Indeed, the illustrious lawyer, Nani Palkhivala once said “Today Indian bureaucracy has more information than knowledge, more knowledge than wisdom and more intelligence than imagination.” This may be true, considering how they are tested and selected, but in these covid times his words will be tested and some are proving him wrong like Dr. Rajendra Bharud, District Collector of Nandurbar in Maharashtra and the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) Commissioner Iqbal Singh Chahal. Closer home we have Officers such as Avinash Menon and V.D. Nishchith, Nodal Officer and Assistant Nodal Officer respectively, who quickly got an online dashboard designed and deployed to resolve Remdesivir distribution problems in the State.
Our DC may not have that “pleasant tactfulness” that most people prefer but the way the DC is being targeted is unfair and ill-timed. Critiquing and constructive feedback is of course needed and the DC has to be open to it, but personal attacks are not only demoralising but demeaning. It is detrimental to the fight against covid. Is the DC to fight Covid or invest her time fighting off personal attacks? Which means, she has less time to fight covid and keep Mysuru safe.
As the Mysuru DC noted, “During a crisis time, people, bureaucrats and politicians must join hands to fight the contagion.” But she ended it with a little sting in the tail as she said, “Let Basavanna’s preachings guide them and may Goddess Chamundeshwari give wisdom to them.”
Some may ask, “Did she really have to say that?” Ah! may be therein lies politicians’ problem with DC Sindhuri … a woman giving it as good as she gets. Most men don’t like it. But we doubt she cares. Good. Now let’s get back to saving Mysuru.
e-mail: [email protected]