Some bureaucrats have the gumption to transform even small positions, into powerful and meaningful ones, and some indolent bureaucrats would transform, even powerful and prestigious positions, into inconsequential jobs. So it’s all in the incumbent, and depends on the person occupying the chair. This is where B.N. Girish a tehsildar in Karnataka’s Shivamogga district outshines his bureaucratic fraternity. He shows the way as to how an upright bureaucracy can make a difference.
As a tehsildar in Karnataka’s Shivamogga district he went undercover as a labourer to work at a stone quarry and check for irregularities then returned to raid the place. This exemplifies the critical role of bureaucracy in India. Since January 2017, BN Girish has been on a crusade against illegal stone and sand mining in the taluk, following up on tips from local people, conducting raids and seizing vehicles. Sand mining owing to the construction boom has become a lucrative industry in rural India but the state’s limited capacity for regulation has inflicted severe ecological damage to hills, rivers and forests.
Imagine, for a moment, if a corrupt or indifferent officer was in Girish’s place. He would have made enough black money for himself, and at the same time damaged the environment. Now size up the damage such rapacious mining in just one taluk wreaks on the environment, and the losses to public exchequer; and the weakening of law and order machinery when illegal activity gains impunity and profit. Then multiply this by the thousands of taluks in India and we will get a sense of the importance of the lower bureaucracy. Politics was meant to take power to the people and cut through red tape. But in India the Neta-Babu nexus has for long taken advantage of hierarchical inequalities to subvert the system.
Says Girish. “Locals told me about the Gejjinahalli quarry in March. I had raided it earlier. But labourers stopped work when they spotted my vehicle. Miners have such a strong network that when unknown vehicles enter, they stop work and flee. That’s when I decided to go in disguise so that no one would recognise me.”
He adds further. “They realised he was an officer only when he started the inquiry. Gejjenahalli has several stone quarries, but I could raid only four as the men in other places got information and ran away. I plan to use a similar method to tackle illegal sand mining problem in the taluk.”
Such illegal happenings have run their course and have to change now. The RTI Act, the spread of education, ubiquitous smartphones, rising aspirations and worries over environmental degradation are empowering communities to speak up against illegality. It also helps when honest officers come to the aid of hapless citizens. Not surprisingly, the struggles of bureaucrats like Ashok Khemka against successive Haryana governments struck a chord with the public. Perhaps, a new breed of civil servants with a can-do attitude has emerged in recent years with popular following that even rivals politicians. But the likes of B.N. Girish who go the extra mile must become the norm, not the exception.
So, a big salute to Tehsildar B.N Girish.
By Kamlesh Tripathi
Share it if you like it
Shravan Charity Mission is an NGO that works for poor children suffering from life threatening diseases especially cancer. Our posts are meant for our readers that includes both children and adults and it has a huge variety in terms of content. We also accept donations for our mission. Should you wish to donate for the cause. The bank details are given below:
NAME OF ACCOUNT: SHRAVAN CHARITY MISSION
Account no: 680510110004635 (BANK OF INDIA)
IFSC code: BKID0006805
GLOOM BEHIND THE SMILE
(The book is about a young cancer patient. Now archived in 7 prestigious libraries of the US, including, Harvard University and Library of Congress. It can also be accessed in MIT through Worldcat.org. Besides, it is also available for reading in Libraries and archives of Canada and Cancer Aid and Research Foundation Mumbai)
ONE TO TANGO … RIA’S ODYSSEY
(Is a book on ‘singlehood’ about a Delhi girl now archived in Connemara Library, Chennai and Delhi Public Library, GOI, Ministry of Culture, Delhi)
AADAB LUCKNOW … FOND MEMORIES
(Is a fiction written around the great city of Nawabs—Lucknow. It describes Lucknow in great detail and also talks about its Hindu-Muslim amity. That happens to be its undying characteristic. The book was launched in Lucknow International Literary Festival of 2014)
REFRACTIONS … FROM THE PRISM OF GOD
(Co-published by Cankids–Kidscan, a pan India NGO and Shravan Charity Mission, that works for Child cancer in India. The book is endorsed by Ms Preetha Reddy, MD Apollo Hospitals Group. It was launched in Lucknow International Literary Festival 2016)
TYPICAL TALE OF AN INDIAN SALESMAN
(Is a story of an Indian salesman who is, humbly qualified. Yet he fights his ways through unceasing uncertainties to reach the top. A good read not only for salesmen. The book was launched on 10th February, 2018 in Gorakhpur Lit-Fest. Now available in Amazon, Flipkart and Onlinegatha)
RHYTHM … in poems
(Published in January 2019. The book contains 50 poems. The poems describe our day to day life. The book is available in Amazon, Flipkart and Onlinegatha)
(ALL THE ABOVE TITLES ARE AVAILABLE FOR SALE IN AMAZON, FLIPKART AND OTHER ONLINE STORES OR YOU COULD EVEN WRITE TO US FOR A COPY)