The incident relates to November 1978. I was posted as the Additional District Magistrate (Development) of Meerut and also the Chief Executive Officer of Zila Parishad. In that month a mela used to be organised at Garh Mukteshwar on the occasion of Kartika Poornima, on the banks of the Ganges. People came to the mela in large numbers with great devotion. As CEO of the Zila Parishad, I was to look after the arrangements at the mela. I planned everything meticulously and everything started off well. My effort was to put the available resources to optimum use. Naturally, this required some cuts in the expenditure incurred on the members of the mela committee. At the same time, I decided to give some more facilities to the staff, who had to work hard during the mela. I also observed that more complaints came from the members themselves rather than the public who accepted everything in the name of Ganga Maa. The nature of complaints from the members was more personal than of public interest.
The mela committee used to meet periodically in the evening under my chairmanship. At one such meeting, some members complained about the cuts in the facilities provided for them. At first I tried to explain the position but they were not prepared to listen. After some time I lost my temper and told them that whatever I had done was in larger interests. I also said that under such circumstances, it was not possible for me to continue to remain at the mela site and that I would be leaving for the district headquarters. I was really angry and did not listen to anybody. I immediately went to my camp, where I dictated a wireless message for the Collector and also booked a telephone call to him.
Fortunately, the call matured at once and the Collector was also available. I explained the whole situation to him and sought his permission to leave the mela site. Firstly, he tried to console me saying that such happenings were the hazards of public administration. When I persisted in my resolution, he became tough and asked me not to leave the mela site. He said that if my objective was to fight against the negative elements, it would be defeated by my leaving the site and that was exactly what they wanted. In such a situation the positive elements would get disheartened and the purpose of the vested interests would be served. The argument appeared very convincing to meand my agitation had died down; I accepted the advice of the Collector. Meanwhile, the positive elements in the Committee too came to me and pleaded for not leaving the site. Taking all these factors into consideration, I decided to stay back and thereafter there was no problem. The administration of the mela went on very smoothly. We were not only able to provide more facilities to the public but were also able to do so at a lesser cost. Incidentally the budget of the mela ended in a surplus against all previous records of deficit. Naturally it was appreciated by all and gave me a lot of satisfaction as well as confidence.
The morale of the incident is obvious. We all come across situations in life when we feel that positive elements are being harassed by negative elements. Quite often positive elements tend to quit and leave the field free for negative elements. This is what negative elements want. They know that they can never conquer the positive elements in a fair battle and want to win by default. At times positive elements may not be prepared to fight but in that case they should make preparation and not give up the idea of fighting. Ultimately, the triumph is always of the positive elements. In this battle the numbers are not very important. In the Mahabharata war five Pandavas were stronger than one hundred and one Kauravas. Here it is a question of moral strength which is missing in the negative elements. Normally, the negative elements flee once they find the positive elements ready to fight. Even if they are able to muster the support of other negative elements, they are internally weak. The battle should never be lost to them by giving them a walk-over.
This is what my Collector meant when he asked me to stay back. His exact words were “Why should you quit?” I feel these are applicable to all positive elements in all situations. The only exception can be a tactical retreat. After all, at time, battles are lost to win a war and games are lost to win a match.