Not only Caezar’s wife but all those placed in position
of supreme authority should be above suspicion. No action
should be of such a nature as to cause the slightest
amount either of irritation or suspicion. Of course
unless substantiated, talks about unfair or unjustifiable
acts become not only ineffective but also create an
unnecessary rancour. But it also ought to be recognized
that it is not always easy to procure documentary evidences
to substantiate certain charges. Hence to brush aside
all complaints as vague allegations, is not fair. Haridas
Mundhra was having a free hand for a fairly long time,
before allegations trickled down, and there might be
scores of scandals undetected and hundreds of irregularities
not yet found out. And so the best guarantee for purity
in administration is to be assured in the form of a
responsible and sympathetic approach to probe into the
mater, whenever complaints, vague or based on solid
foundations, are brought forward.
We would like a responsible government to go a step
further by assuring the public that it would allow no
step, that could be misconstrued even by an unsympathetic
But the present regime seems to be guided, not by such
motive, but by a sort of, ‘What if’ attitude. Instances
are many, and occur frequently.
The other day, there was a discussion in the Lok Sabha,
whether a government officer can take up any other service
soon after his retirement. Many members expressed their
disapproval and placed certain information at their
disposal to prove that such a state of affairs kindles
sparks of suspicion.
True, nothing substantial was presented to augment the
argument—but in as far as a practice is involved, the
issue raised on the floor of the Lok Sabha cannot be
It was stated during the discussion, that the Chairman
of Railway Board joined a private firm, twenty-four
hours after his retirement. That itself is amazing,
but there could be no irregularity in this, for the
officer concerned had the right to seek employment after
retirement, even without getting the permission of he
government and in this case, the officer did ask for
and got the permission. So there was nothing out of
the way in this, but still, it reads like a thriller!
Twenty-four hours elapse, and the ex-Chairman of the
Railway Board is found seated in a private firm. If
that is amazing, the subsequent incidence is rather
Mr. V.C.Shukla, M.P. put this question:
“It is not a fact that after the ex-Chairman of the
Railway Board joined a private firm, that firm was given
valuable handling contracts running to several lakhs
of rupees which no other contractor was given before?”
Mr. Jagjivan Ram, Minister for Railways, very naturally
depreciated the insinuation couched in such a question
but did not deny the fact.
Both these incidents are perfectly justifiable, —in
Any officer has got the right of seeking employment
in a private firm, after his retirement from government
And any firm has got a right to get a government contract
through the proper channel.
But the amazement lies in the curious coincidence of
these two incidents. Twenty four hours after his retirement,
a person who was holding an influential post in the
government, joins a private firm and that firm becomes
the recipient of the government contract!
What if?—argues the minister.
There is nothing wrong technically. The mere fact that
an ex-government servant is to be found on the staff
does not mean that that private firm could be debarred
from getting any government contract. Legal and logical!
None disputes. But how would this appear to the man-on-the-street?
“The firm has got the knack of getting things done.
It procured the services of the Chairman of the Railway
Board,—that is a master-piece of practical common-sense!
The officer adorns the chair, and instantly the government
places a contract worth more than ten lakhs of rupees.
The firm has got such business acumen!!”—so would the
man on the street argue, if he is under the influence
of decency and fair-mindedness. When moody and furious,
he might talk in disparaging tones.
Mr.Thyagi, M.P., couching the sentiments of the man-on-the
street, in the language of decency, said,
“The fact that this officer has joined the private firm
on the very day he was relieved from service leads one
to doubt whether he was not negotiating for his service
with the firm prior to his retiring from the Railways.”
The man-on-the street cannot be expected to employ such
a restraint as an M.P., who has to be responsible, cautious
and never could get out of bounds. Hence, Mr.Thyagi,
employed the harmless word, “doubt.” But the man-on-the-street
would not rest content with that!
Mr. Thyagi, enquired “May I know whether the Minister
was taken into confidence in regard to the negotiating
for the new employment?”
Mr. Jagjivan Ram answered in the affirmative.
How much of importance was attached to this issue, can
be gauged by the fact, that the Speaker of the Lok Sabha,
Mr.Ananthasayanam Ayyangar, had to intervene to express
his own remarks, thus:
“This is an important matter in that it concerns a matter
of policy. If persons who are in charge of the administration
of Railways and who have to place orders with various
firms, get such jobs, immediately they retire, this
House is anxious to know whether any consideration is
Of course the Minister for Railways was ready with an
answer—there was nothing wrong either in the transaction
or in the officer getting an appointment in a private
firm. True, those who raised the issue, had no fact
in their possession to prove that the transaction leads
one to doubt. But still, the whole affair is nauseating.
The broad facts are enough for rumour-mongering! And
no responsible government should place itself in such
an awkward position.
But, the present regime, refuses to abide by such healthy
principles; instead, whatever the issue raised, doubt
expressed, or even allegations mooted, the government
is ready with a sneer, ‘What if?’
Well, the present regime can well afford to sneer, because
of its stupendous numerical strength. But the people
cannot! They want that their rulers should be above
suspicion—and they have a right to ask the rulers to
be more refined and democratic in their approach, whenever
an issue of importance—or as the Speaker very correctly
pointed out, ‘an important matter of policy’ is raised.
The opposition might be weak—it is so numerically, but
that does not mean that all the cases that they present
are weak. The people are becoming day by day, more and
more vigilant, and also vocal. We would urge upon the
powers-that-be, to give up this ‘What if attitude,’
if it wants to earn the encomium of the people of this
(Editorial - 14-12-1958)