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Mainstream, VOL LVIII No 6, New Delhi, January 25, 2020 - Republic Day Special

Governor of Another Kind

Monday 27 January 2020, by Devaki Jain



Shri. T.N. Chaturvedi, was a Governor of another kind. I had a personal experience of witnessing how he conducted the business of a Governor. It was exemplary. He kept a distance from both bureaucracy and civil society but was always there as an arbiter of justice.

I had three close encounters with him as a citizen of Bangalore during his governorship. The first revealed both his magnanimity and his consciousness of what can be called national events, national initiatives. In other words, he was not limited to the State but brought the Central Government into the State. This was when I was awarded the Padma Bhushan by the President at that time, Dr Abdul Kalam. He organised a reception for all those from Karnataka who had received Padma Awards, not only that year but in other years too.

Another virtue was his deep interest in what I would like to call justice or the implementation of the law. This was related to land rights and the land revenue department of the State Government, under political influences, especially caste-driven political interventions, were influencing the revenue department and its perception of the ownership of a piece of private land. This land had been converted to be part of a public trust and its activities.

Builders and other vested interests had somehow influenced the bureaucracy in the revenue department to challenge this legal entitlement. Shri Chaturvedi took charge of this and got the maps and the files from the revenue department, examined the case and ensured that there would be no political interference in the implementation and the reverence to the rule of law.

A third illustration: Governors are usually the presiding authorities of the university structure. As a member of the syndicate and at one time its chair I found that administering the syndicate was constantly being undermined by caste lobbies. Again Shri Chaturvedi was able to intervene and ensure that as much as possible the university administration was functioning without being dragged into the net of patronage and therefore rule breaking.

These are only a few examples from personal experience that on the whole, citizens of Bangalore and Karnataka experienced, the kind of moral and intellectual leadership of a Governor in a way that had never been before. He was distant but he was also near, he was warm- hearted but not malleable, he was accessible but there was a protocol.

Many years later I met him in Delhi as the Chairman of the Governing Body of the IIPA, the Institute of Public Administration He always attended the annual events, and in this case it was an event in memory of a faculty member who had passed away. He presided over one of the event where I gave the memorial lecture. It was so empowering to hear him speak about Bangalore and the friendship to a Delhi audience which would find it, as if it came from another world.

Exemplary as a term would be insufficient to describe Shri Chaturvedi. Perhaps we should say exemplary raised to the power of exemplary. We miss him and he well deserves the rest that comes with leaving this world. May his soul rest in peace.

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