Address at the inauguration of the FICCI Ladies Organization’s Film Festival in Mumbai

    Publish Date: February 18, 2016

    Address by Shri Ch Vidyasagar Rao, Governor of Maharashtra at the release of the book Jaal Resha authored by Dr Smt Neela Satyanarayana at Y B Chavan Centre, Gen Bhosale Marg, Nariman Point, Mumbai at 5 pm on Saturday 20 February 2016

    Dr Smt Neela Satyanarayana, former Chief Election Commissioner of Maharashtra, Dr Sudheendra Kulkarni, Chairman, Observer Research Foundation, Shri Nana Patekar – he needs no introduction – senior officers of the Government, invitees, ladies and gentlemen,

    I am pleased to associate myself with the release of the book ‘Jaal Resha’ authored by Smt Neela Satyanarayana.

    मला मराठी चांगले येत नाही. मी हळू हळू शिकत आहे. त्यामुळे मी पुस्तक वाचले नाही.

    However, I made serious efforts to read and pronounce the name of the book ‘Jaal Resha’ correctly. I am still not sure, whether I read the name of the book correctly !

    I congratulate Smt Neela Satyanarayana for writing this book that deserves to be read by people in Government service, especially by women officers, those who have retired from the service and also by the people at large, who are interested in knowing how the Government functions and, what all happens, in the corridors of power.

    The book itself can serve as ‘Jaal Resha’ that will guide officers how to insulate themselves from the push and pulls of the government service.

    This is a book by an honest and idealistic IAS officer who has presented an authentic account of her bitter – sweet experiences during her long and distinguished service in administration spanning 37 years and her tenure as Chief Election Commissioner.

    Maharashtra is very rich in literature, both ancient and modern. It is also a land where people love to read good books.

    Smt Neela Satyanarayana ji’s book is a worthy addition to the long list of good books in Marathi.

    Even though, I have not read the book myself, I have read the gist of the book. I must say, it takes courage of conviction to write a book of this kind. To give a transparent and truthful account of one’s working life is not easy, more so if you have been a part of the government.

    To the credit of Smt Neela Satyanarayana, she has refrained from naming persons at whose hands she suffered humiliation or injustices. However, it is not difficult to identify or recognize the persons she has referred to, in her stories in certain high profile cases.

    The author joined the Indian Administrative Service – which is the most coveted among all services – because of her youthful idealism.

    She wanted to use the power of an IAS officer to serve the nation, to transform our society and to alter the lives of the poor and the needy for the better. To her credit, she overcame various odds to bring a positive change in society through her distinguished service.

    Smt Neela Satyanarayana gives many accounts of, how as a Government officer, she performed her duties honestly, be it as a District Collector or in the Forest Department, in the Medical Education Department, in the Social Welfare Department, in the Urban Development Department, in the Textiles Department and even as the Chief Election Commissioner of Maharashtra.

    Her career remained spotlessly clean throughout the nearly four decades, that she spent in the Government service. Society needs to realize and appreciate that a woman officer is shouldering several responsibilities simultaneously. She may be an officer while in office, but at home, she is a caring mother, a sister, a wife too. In the case of Neela ji, she had an additional responsibility – that of paying greater attention to a differently-abled son. What she has done and achieved in life and career is therefore superhuman.

    Many times Neela ji had to face pressures from fellow officers, both seniors and juniors, politicians, ministers and unscrupulous elements to do wrong things, to favour some undeserving person, to turn a blind eye to unethical behaviour, to condone indiscipline and so on.

    She resisted such pressures in every single case, often at the cost of having to suffer negative consequences, such as getting transferred out of one department to another.

    The Taitteriya Upanishad says,

    “Satyam Vada, Dharmam Chara”

    It means, speak the truth, walk on the path of Dharma – that is lead a righteous life.

    Smt Neela Satyaranayana has actually practiced this Upanishadic teaching during her stint as an IAS officer.

    Before the arrival of the IAS, there was Indian Civil Service system. For many years, the examination for the ICS were held only in London, depriving deserving Indians of the opportunity to join the civil service.

    The first attempt at Indianization of the Civil Service came in the year 1922 when, ICS began to be conducted in Allahabad alongwith London.

    Most of the officers in the Indian Civil Services in those days were British, who often looked down upon Indians, especially after the Non Cooperation movement. Naturally there was anger against the ICS among Indians. Freedom fighters used to say that the Indian Civil Service was neither Indian, nor civil nor it justified the word ‘Service’ !

    There was widespread dissent against the Civil Service, and there were demands for the discontinuation of the service altogether after Independence. However Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel insisted on continuation of the Indian Administrative Service, which he felt would serve as a ‘steel frame of India’ for the administration.

    Sardar Patel insisted that national integration should not be confined to geographical boundaries of the country alone, but it should extend to include socio-economic integration of society. As an IAS officer, Smt Neela Satyaranarayana worked honestly for the socio-economic upliftment of the people.

    Ladies and gentlemen,

    Even after 69 years of Independence, and enactment of several women-centric legislations in our country, it is a fact that strong bias exists in our society towards women. This bias is deep rooted in the mindsets of our people. You cannot escape this bias even if you are an IAS officer.

    Neela Satyanarayana ji has every right to hold a grudge against society if she thinks, she was denied the right to become Chief Secretary despite her capability, caliber, qualification and experience.

    A survey conducted by an American think tank covering 22000 publicly-traded companies in over 91 countries, showed that companies employing 30 percent and more female executives earn more profits. So it makes sound economic sense to employ more women.

    I do feel that we should have more women in the civil services, in police services and in all wings of administration and government. And why not have 50 percent women in all these services? I have no doubt in my mind that the quality of governance and administration will definitely improve with more women coming on board in the decision making process. It will also create a more humane and more enabling atmosphere for all women to realize their full potential and to contribute to the process of nation building.

    With these words, I congratulate Smt Neela Satyanarayana ji once again for writing this excellent book that provokes us to think, introspect and act.

    I congratulate the Parchure Prakashan for publishing this book and thank Smt Neela Satyanarayana for inviting me for the book release function.

    Jai Hind Jai Maharashtra !!