Here are 5 honest and dedicated civil servants of India who have made us all extremely proud by never taking the easy way out, despite unceremonious transfers and threats. This Independence Day, let’s salute these true heroes.
Corruption may be a widespread scourge in Indian governance but there are some incorruptible officers who stand out from the norm. Transferred and threatened by their political bosses, these honest officers never buckled under the pressure and continued to work undeterred.
Here are 5 amazing bureaucrats who have been fighting injustice and corruption to give us the hope that even a few good officers can make a difference in the country.
1. Poonam Malakondaiah, Andhra Pradesh
Poonam Malakondaiah is a remarkable bureaucrat who fought her way through nepotism, chauvinism and many lackadaisical set-ups. A low-profile 1988 batch IAS officer, she has proven to be a hard nut to crack for politicians, lobbyists and businessmen used to officers yielding under pressure. Seven transfers in six years failed to deter her as she continued to fight corruption in whichever department she was assigned – from agriculture to transport to education to civil supplies. The forthright and fiery lady dragged the multinational seed company, Monsanto, to the MRTP Commission as the agriculture commissioner following which the MNC was forced to reduce the price of BT Cotton seeds.
2. Manoje Nath, Bihar
Manoje Nath was just 2o years old when he wrote the Indian Police Service (IPS) exam and ranked third in the country and first in Bihar in 1973. Thirty-nine years on, when this topper retired from the Bihar police in 2012, he was one of the longest-serving IPS officers who had never been considered for a key post in his entire career. An upright man, he failed to fit into the political class’s scheme of things, particularly when it comes to appointing the Director General of Police (DGP). In the year 1980, as the Bokaro SP, he had arrested the then Bokaro Steel MD in a corruption case, for which he was handed a transfer order within 24 hours, after only four months in the office. For his refusal to fulfill political whims, he was transferred over 40 times in his 39-year long career and superseded at least thrice by officers much junior to him.
3. G R Khairnar, Maharashtra
Govind Ragho Khairnar is a former Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) officer known for his uprightness and fearlessness while carrying out his duties in the face of political opposition. As the deputy municipal commissioner, he systematically targeted illegal encroachments across the city. As a result, he was suspended and brought to trial for supposed insubordination and heavy-handedness but the High Court cleared him of these charges. After winning the case against the BMC for his unjust suspension, he was reinstated as the Deputy Commissioner.He continued to fight back land mafias and clear public land of encroachments, even suffering injuries while doing so, once again, living up to the title the locals had given him, One Man Demolition Army. During his suspension from BMC, he also wrote his autobiography Ekaki Zunj (The Lonely Fight) in Marathi.
4. Samit Sharma, Rajasthan
In 2009, more than 12,000 government employees in Rajasthan’s Chittorgarh district went on mass leave to protest against the transfer of District Collector Samit Sharma. The officer had been shunted out simply because he had refused to sack a lower divisional clerk for not standing up when a local MLA entered the office (as an official circular had ordered). Despite the protest, Samit Sharma was transferred but he didn’t let it deter him from doing good work. A doctor who practiced for 5 years before taking the IAS exam, Sharma used his experience to pioneer the generic medicine project (that provided affordable health care, medicine and surgical items to the poor) in Rajasthan.
5. Rajni Sekri Sibal, Haryana
Rajni Sekri Sibal, an IAS officer from Haryana cadre, first said a firm no when offered a bribe by the political powers who wanted her to change the results of 3200 Junior Basic Training (JBT) teachers in 1999-2000. Then, when her transfer was ordered, she wrapped the steel almirah with the actual list of results lying inside, with a four-metre-long cloth and bandages, making it impossible for anyone to open the almirah and tamper with the list. She then got five of her officers to sign the bandage in different places, thereby marking it uniquely, and stuffed the key in an envelope which she sealed and hid after that. This simple action led to the list not being tampered with, brought attention to huge scam (now known as JBT Recruitment Scam) and an eventual CBI investigation into the matter that implicated several people in high places.