Mr TSR Subramanian was an IAS officer of the UP cadre. Having risen to the post of Chief Secretary in the state government and Cabinet Secretary in the central government, he retired a few years back. After retirement also, he has been useful to the society and is serving it in many ways. Sometime after the retirement, he wrote a book under the title ‘Journeys Through Babudom and Netaland’. This book is a kind of autobiography as well as a good analysis of ground realities in our country, particularly in respect of administration and politics. The book was very well-received and created a good debate among those who find mention in it. I read it soon after its release and enjoyed reading it. My one-line comment on this book is that it is a good dig on the system. While it does not provide answers to the malady of the system, it certainly provokes the system to think about the answers. This way it serves a great purpose. Subsequently, the book was published in Hindi also.
Leaving this aspect of the book here itself, I am going to mention an incident narrated in the book, which left a deep mark on me. It relates to the period when Mr Subramanian was posted at Geneva, on a UN assignment. In the same office, there was an elderly class-four employee named B Singh who hailed from eastern UP. He had been in Geneva for quite some time and was very popular among the Indian officers posted there. The reason was his helpful nature along with the wisdom he had acquired on account of this trait. His counsel to all officers, particularly those posted newly, was well received and everyone looked for his help at one time or the other. He used to live there with his family.
It so happened that during the period of Mr Subramanian’s posting there, the wife of this employee passed away and Mr Subramanian visited his residence to pay his condolence. It was early afternoon; his apartment was a bare one-room flat. A few other Indians were there to share his grief. Singh had just returned after the cremation of his wife. He was dry-eyed, drained of all emotions, and talking more to himself than to the visitors at his home. He said, “She died last night. The nurse asked me to come back early this morning. She was being bathed and the nurse asked me to remove her nose ring before the cremation. Saab, I have never seen her without the nose ring ever since I had known her and married her when she was a ten-year-old. She wore it all the time, in bed, while bathing; it was a part of her. I could not bear the thought of separating her from the diamond nose ring. I told the nurse that I don’t want it, let it go with her. The nurse said that the metallic item could not be taken into the cremation. Saab, I tried to remove the nose ring, but my hands were trembling and I could not unscrew it. Finally, the nurse removed it and gave it to me. You see Saab, she could not even take this small thing with her when she went. But you see people who madly collect houses and money and property they cannot take with them.”