Beyond The Trappings Of Office: A civil servant's journey in Punjab
Author: Rajan Kashyap (Wolfson 1978)
Publisher: Niyogi Books, Delhi
Travel with the author, a former civil servant, on a fascinating journey. From a childhood spent in the infancy of free India, growing up in a state still relishing the after taste of maharajas and grand royalty, to traipsing into the Indian Administrative Service with child-like optimism. Enjoy a renaissance in the heady heights of the University of Cambridge, and a mellow cadence of a fruitful life in a modern Indian city, juxtaposed with a view of the transforming rural economy in a state at the heart of India’s green revolution.
The author offers colourful vignettes of events behind the drab doors of officialdom, subtly endowing the profession of pen pushing with a kind of fascinating vibrancy. He depicts, with a degree of dispassion, the successes and failures of governments and individual protagonists in attaining power, and sustaining it. Being part of the system, yet not succumbing to the temporal power that goes with it. Alongside are the images of members of the community of bureaucrats, as well as politicians whose foibles are displayed with a gentle, disarming irony. The way and the extent to which they, besides myriad other characters shaped his personality, is shared in his self-effacing, yet charming writing.
Who will enjoy reading this personal account? The civil servant (aspiring, current, or retired), the student of history, the lover of English poetry, and in fact, readers of varied hues, who will savour every minute of this entertaining narration, for it takes one beyond his official nametag. Interests ranging from tennis to classical music, yoga to civil society organizations, makes for delightful reading. Personal memories, accomplishments, heartache, and battles are inextricably woven into key historical events, as the author’s path crossed that of ordinary unknown people he was employed to serve, whilst encountering the dignified, the famous and the powerful.