A book by former civil servant V. Balasubramanian, who served during the tenure of different Chief Ministers of Karnataka, seeks to expose corruption in different governments and chronicles the fall in credibility in all branches of the government and the media.
The author of Fall From Grace: Memoir of a Rebel IAS Officer, retired as an additional chief secretary after spending over 35 years of service in Karnataka and at the Centre.
Mr Balasubramanian, who joined service in 1965, narrates how corruption at high places - both in politics and in judiciary - has become the accepted norm which does not attract social ostracism. He records instances of “fall from grace” of political leadership and bureaucracy in the last five decades.
In the 407-page book, he narrates his experience of working under different CMs such as Veerendra Patil, Devaraj Urs, Gundu Rao and Ramakrishna Heggade.
"While all the CMs in Karnataka had been dependent upon Excise and PWD contractors in varying degrees to fund elections, including Devaraj Urs, Veerendra Patil, and Ramakrishna Heggade, they had nevertheless given comparatively clean administration," he notes.
The author terms ex-Chief Minister S. Bangarappa’s period as the “the golden age of corruption in Karnataka” and states that his “innovation was democratic decentralization of corruption in which every department was given a target” and that some IAS officers “treated it as an honour to be chosen to strengthen the hands of the CM.”
The author calls himself a ‘Rebel IAS Officer’ and in the work brings out a ring-side view of many administrative decisions taken during different CMs and chief secretaries of the State. The author says Prime Minister H.D. Deve Gowda was “quite affectionate towards officers” and more “humane than even Supreme Court judges” while dealing with the officers when he was CM.
Talking of ex-Chief Minister J.H. Patel, Mr. Balasubramanian explains his “knack” for saying politically incorrect things. When women staged a protest during the Miss World contest in Bengaluru, Mr. Patel had infamously said, “Only ugly ones are protesting. All the pretty ones are telling me they support the beauty contest.”
The book explored the shortcomings in the S.M. Krishna government and the author says that "the misrule of SMK for five years resulted in the BJP emerging as the largest party in the Assembly elections in 2004."
Retired in 2001, Mr. Balasubramanian served as the Chairman of Task Force for Prevention of Land Grabbing in Karnataka and exposed encroachment of lands by people in high offices. When the government refused to print his report "Greed and Connivance'', he published and distributed it at his own cost. Before bidding adieu to public service in 2013, the author was hauled up by the Privileges Committee of the Karnataka Legislature for contempt. But it was dropped owing to media criticism.
The book published by Delhi-based Authors Press will be released on July 30 by Karnataka High Court's former judge Nagamohan Das at IAS Auditorium, Infantry Road, Bengaluru.
Shorter and long tenures
In Chapter 18 of the book, the author points out that after 1956, the State had 20 CMs in 64 years with an average tenure of three years. The average tenure of 18 CMs was just 30 months. This was in contrast to Tamil Nadu which from 1956 to 2020 had just seven CMs, an average of nine years each.