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A writer in bureaucrat's clothing!

More and more bureaucrats are turning one-time authors. Loveleen Kacker, however, is different. She has penned not one or two but more than a dozen books. Her latest "Terror in the Jungle" hit the bookstalls sometime back. ZIYA US SALAM speaks to the prolific author who would rather be a writer than a bureaucrat... .

MORE AND more babus are wielding the pen these days. A few years of untrammelled authority, a few years in corridors of power, a few handshakes with those from the world of art and literature and lo! the groundwork for a book is complete. After a couple of Delhi-based income tax commissioners had written down their pieces and another top bureaucrat talked at length of the ills of Indian democracy, here comes the resident commissioner of Madhya Pradesh who has just authored a book on the Naxalite problems afflicting the Bastar district in the heartland of India, and is in the process of finishing another on sugar politics of Uttar Pradesh. Welcome aboard Loveleen Kacker. Well, not really! She has been here before, many times over, done all that - she has penned a couple of novels besides 10 books on children and a couple on art and culture. And is now tied to the service only because "writing does not pay; not enough to run your kitchen anyway."

Loveleen, who has authored "Terror in the Jungle" - published by UBSPD - centred around the Naxalite movement that culminated in the formation of the leftists People's War Group, reasons: "The kind of experience and exposure that civil services give you is unmatched by any other job. I belong to urban India, if I had not been in the services, I may not have spent that much time in the tribal belt or that much time in the sugar belt of the country. I have spent five years in the sugar belt. When a writer sits down to pen something, he has to take recourse to some experiences of his life. Even imagination has to be rooted somewhere, some incidents, some experiences. This kaleidoscope of experience is provided by the civil services. It comes in handy as a writer."

Isn't it difficult for a supposedly sober, stiff upper-lipped bureaucrat to write creatively? "Well! I hope people regard me as a writer and not as a bureaucrat. I am not a bureaucrat. I am in the service only because I need the money to run my kitchen. I have to run my family. I chose not to be a bureaucrat. I hope I have not changed with the years in service. As for finding time to write, well, one finds time to do what one wants to do. I don't need solitude to write. I can do it anywhere. There have been instances when I have written at the airport while waiting to check-in."

Incidentally, this ex-student of Loreto Convent in the Capital may not have become a bureaucrat in the first place. Well, she did not really aspire to anyway! "After my schooling in Delhi, my father was posted at Allahabad and I ended up doing my graduation and post-graduation from Allahabad University. At my time, you had to prove yourself by taking a crack at civil services. I never got a chance to re-think as I made it in the first attempt. However, in the first few years in service I could not write, largely because the early years are difficult and postings take their toll."

Then came an unfortunate illness which turned out to be a blessing in disguise for Loveleen. "For medical reason I had to be at home for six or eight months. At that time I resumed my writing. I wrote `Pitaji', a novel in English," reveals the lady who used to eidt the college magazine and was actively involved with theatre before her brush with bureaucracy. Soon followed a chance meeting with a top official of Harper Collins who lamented that there were not enough writers for children books. Loveleen decided to step in. And there followed eight books for children, followed by a couple more. One of which a children's travelogue on Gwalior is now being used for a serial on Doordarshan. Not bad for someone who started off as a new reader on radio!

That's not all. This reader-writer and, shall we say it, bureaucrat, is in the process of giving finishing touches to a book close to her heart. Based on sugar politics against the backdrop of the 1990 Mandal agiation, it is a gender-based story which exposes the hypocrisy of the society where the girl child, even if she is more capable than the boy child, is not the inheritor of the property. The book should be out by April after which this prolific writer shall focus her energies to expose the criminalisation of politics in Western Uttar Pradesh. Not a day too soon too! Till then it has to be "Terror in the Jungle" for the lady who has been writing for 16-odd years. Keep a track.

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