The Uttar Pradesh (UP) government has suspended IAS officer Durga Shakti Nagpal as she dared to take on the sand mafia operating under her jurisdiction. Inspired by her, there  are going to be some doubly divinely named daughters born hereon, though I am not sure parents would encourage them to study hard for a career in the IAS that involves some serious grappling with  goons, mostly garbed as politicians. Engineering, medicine or MBA could be safer options.

Durga has been rightly declared a real life heroine by the desperate to uncover corruption crusaders, the always angry national TV anchors, most of whom live across the Yamuna, residing in houses constructed by the illegally supplied sand. The middle classes too have been active on social networking websites.

My mail and facebook accounts have been bombarded by online petitions, groups and pages, linked to liking, supporting and pleading for Durga. Sonia Gandhi has shot off a letter to Manmohan Singh that the center should stand by Durga.

Apparently, she regularly writes such missives to Manmohan that are obviously treated as unofficial official orders to the PM. Many we do not get to hear about, like the one she must have penned about shielding a certain Robert Vadra. Given the urgency of the matter maybe she smsed – transfer Ashok Khemka right now. Some day we should have a compendium of the correspondence in the form of a book — letters and text messages from a super PM to her PM.

It is apparent reports that Durga lead a squad to demolish a makeshift mosque is as much hogwash as Katrina Kaif denying a relationship with Ranbir Kapoor.  The politically powerful sand mafia wanted her out and so it happened, as is the case of thousands of honest officers in India and also many current and ex-cricketers who dare to question the rapacious money making policies of BCCI. 

Akhilesh Yadav has again rubber stamped old world views of his uncles and father Mulayam Singh Yadav who don’t care about the noisy middle classes, English media, corruption crusaders and women. The Samajwadi Party derives its support from Muslims and backward caste voters of UP. The Yadav clan in power assumes that caste and religion based affiliations will override corruption, crony capitalism, absence of law and order and development. A certain Lalu Yadav thought the same, until he was kicked out by Nitish Kumar in Bihar.

The tragedy of UP is that there has been no leader of the stature of Narendra Modi or Nitish or Shivraj Singh Chauhan to take the state forward on a governance cum growth agenda. UP has been saddled by megalomaniacs such as Mayawati, obsessed with building statues of her own self and making a fashion statement of her sandals, purses and diamond drop earrings.

Akhilesh has been unable to move beyond the big shadows of his daddy and uncle-centric politics. His sole assertion has been distributing free laptops, the possession of which is a security risk in UP given the dismal law and order situation of the state. A few months back, one parochial-minded uncle prevented Akhilesh from speaking at Harvard, after he made the journey all the way to Boston. Not many young men I know obey their uncles the way Akhilesh does.  He needs to learn to be a little disobedient.

Unfortunately, UP has also been BJP’s playground of aggressive Hindutva, centered round building the Ram temple at Ayodhya. Given the violence unleashed across the country due to the supposedly disputed site, even Lord Ram would not want a temple at Ayodhya anymore. It might be a good idea to just make a park where children of all religions can play.

Meanwhile, Rahul Gandhi’s interest in UP has been a few symbolic meals with the dalits and Muslims. For the Gandhi scion, like poverty, UP is a state of mind or rather only during elections state of mind.   

I also have a problem with the way the government in our country functions, notwithstanding Durga’s efforts. There is too much focus on blocking, removing, controlling, refusing permission to activities that may be legitimate or illegitimate.

It is a colonial mindset honed by decades of the license permit regime of the 70s and 80s, when every petty babu was mai baap, due to the power he or she exercised over the common man. Today, the Indian economy needs to be unleashed into a rapid T20 mode, while our officials continue to operate in test cricket mode blocking all that comes their way, a la a Geoffrey Boycott, not even a Sunil Gavaskar forget about Sachin Tendulkar.

I would be much happier if our upright officers focused more on being pro-active like ensuring our kids do not die due to pesticide and poison laden mid-day meals or our roads are less potholed, especially during the monsoons.

Even in the case of the sand mafia, it is always easier to stop all activity rather than regulate in a way that the environment is protected. It is the same middle classes backing Durga that have invested their hard earned money into real estate projects that will be the most affected if the raw material supply lines are choked.

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