Harassment drives 'Mr Clean' to UN

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By VENKITESH RAMAKRISHNAN in Thiruvananthapuram
  • Published 18.09.02

Thiruvananthapuram, Sept. 18: Raju Narayana Swami, the Indian Administrative Service’s “Mr Clean” in Kerala, is going on a five-year leave for an assignment with the United Nations as IT consultant as he “cannot put up with the harassment of political bosses any more”.

Swami, who has always stood first since the time he was in Class X, has served in various capacities during the past 11 years. Throughout the period, he was known for his professional integrity, though many colleagues and ministers did complain from time to time about his inefficiency and lack of practical sense.

Swami’s last posting was as district magistrate of Kasaragode, Kerala’s northern-most district. Last week, he was transferred as director of the employment and training department, informally rated as a demotion. He has decided to attend office for one day before joining the UN.

The transfer to the employment and training department came after a minister had “threatened” him nearly a month ago that he would be “thrown to the dustbin of the Kerala service”.

Swami’s crime: he had refused to accept the minister’s recommendation for sanctioning paramedical courses in certain hospitals of the district. These hospitals, owned by the minister’s relatives, did not fulfil the required technical and medical parameters to run such courses.

Swami, however, stuck to his stand. So the threat was carried out in less than a month by the Congress-led United Democratic Front government. It is not the first time that Swami has faced the wrath of his political masters. The earlier Left Democratic Front regime had even kept him under suspension when he was district magistrate in Thrissur. He had to sit out of service for a year and finally the judiciary intervened to reinstate him.

“The cumulative effect of all this, says Swami, “has been too much to handle”. Swami hopes his new assignment with the UN would give him an opportunity to display his skills and knowledge without political harassment.

He was selected for the UN post because of his expertise in IT and IT-enabled services. Electronics and communications were the main subjects when Swami took his engineering degree.

“The most important lesson that I learned in my 11 years with the IAS,” Swami said, “is that the rich have no problems in getting their things done whatever the rules and laws and whichever the political hue of the government while the poor get a raw deal under all circumstances”.