An IAS officer pens a moving tribute to the compassion of Rajashekar Koti

The relationship between journalists and bureaucrats is, at best, a marriage of convenience. Both need each other when need be. No more, no less.

Given their general air of superiority, know-it-all IAS officers (mostly) tend to also look down on journalists in the sacred space between their ears.

But P. Manivannan, the IAS officer who enjoyed a fine stint as Deputy Conmissioner of Mysore, has penned a touching tribute to Andolana editor Rajashekar Koti on Facebook.

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By P. MANIVANNAN

The Dalai Lama once said that “compassion is a necessity, not a luxury” and that “it is a question of human survival”.

Compassion thus defines humanity.

The atrocities committed throughout human history have only been relieved through the presence of compassion.

While I have no measurement of how compassion has worked through the ages, I have been seeing less of compassion around me as time passes by.

Paradoxically, I am also realizing the importance of compassion as never before. Indeed, I would rate compassion as the foremost quality for any public servant.

Rajashekar Koti sir, taught me another dimension of compassion. He fought for their right of farmers and small vendors to have a place to market their vegetables.

The said land was in dispute and one side the Mysore Maharaja family, claimed it, and another side, the Income tax dept. It is to the credit of both the Maharaja and IT department that they allowed the place to be used by the vegetable vendors temporarily.

As the vendors didn’t have a roof over them, Koti sir asked me, the then deputy commissioner of Mysore, to provide a tent for the vendor, and also a bore-well for drinking water. But, how can the govt create an asset on a land that does not belong to the govt?

Koti sir simply said: “Sir, if the owners have no objection, and the water is used for the poor, for drinking purpose, which law stops you from such humanitarian action?”

I said.” No law stops me sir. But, no law mandates me to do that too!”

Koti sir smiled at me and said, “DC sir, when law is silent, it is actually testing the humanity in you, whether you take a step towards compassion, or not.”

I was shaken.

I realized the truth in what he said.

It suddenly become clear that, we, the public servants, are here to do what we believe is good, and not always look for express mandate by law. There are a thousand ways to do good. And no law book can ever be all-inclusive.

I assured him that the bore-well would be dug.

For many months, whenever he used to meet, he will shower appreciation to me for getting the well dug. He also started advising me on issues concerning the SCs and STs. His deep knowledge about them helped me a lot.

Time rolled by, and I came to Bangalore on transfer. The city has strange ways of compelling you to be busy for no use to anybody. So, I lost touch with him. Very recently, thanks to WhatsApp, I got connected to him again! He started sharing important news items, opinions etc. We used to chat briefly.

And suddenly the news of his demise. It did hurt me inside. Another socialist, humanist is no more.

The world around me looked less comfortable to me. Will we have another Rajashekar Koti? Are we bringing forth enough children to grow up to replace Rajashekar Kotis? I am not confident of a positive answer. And that reminds us the duty we have ahead of us.

The best way to pay homage to him is to make this world more compassionate. Amen.