Basant Rath Sacrificed

Basant Rath Sacrificed
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Basant Rath, the outgoing IGP(Traffic) had, once tweeted about power and the measure of men(women). To paraphrase the unconventional young officer of worth, he had stated and implied that “ the test of a person’s character was how he(she) dealt with power”. Little would have Rath known that it would be the distortion(s) of power that would make his exit from the position he held imminent. But, alas, this is Kashmir where power and its quest has become an end in itself and careerist politicians, become so inebriated with power that they cannot countenance a challenge to them. In a place where the politics of opportunism rules the roost, and where patronage and its disbursal warp and distort all sane paradigms and ethics, and where bureaucratic independence and morality is far from the horizon, Rath was a lone fighter, aiming to use his position to improve conditions in the domain of traffic and its management. Given this, it was perhaps but inevitable that the ethical and upright officer would not only offend entrenched insecurities of the political class but also run against their fragile egos. On the face of it, Rath did not seek fame and popularity but his unconventional methods, honesty and probity endeared him to the people of Kashmir who were and are used to bureaucratic insouciance, indifference and corruption. Fame and popularity sought him instead. Rath, in consonance with his temperament and personality (as unconventional as it is), was doing the best that he could in and amid given frameworks. But, alas, forces of patronage and crude politicking, were arrayed against him. The knives were out and the honest man was ousted. If honesty, ethics and uprightness, in this brutal and flawed world, still hold and are valued then Rath need not worry. Nay, this is the wrong phrase; the correct one is that Rath actually smells of roses. He went out of his way to help, beyond what his remit of duty mandate. If there is anything negative about Rath’s engineered exit, it is what it tells about those who hold power. The talk (or sound bytes) of “good governance and so on flounder on the rocks of a political reality which speaks volumes about the nature of power here , how it is exercised and those who hold real power.