IAS officer Rajendra Kumar’s letter seeking VRS—Part I
NH reproduces the letter seeking VRS, by former Principal Secretary to Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal. In this first part, Rajendra Kumar acknowledges the role the welfare state played in shaping his life
The Chief Secretary
Government of NCT of Delhi
Delhi Secretariat, ITO
Subject: Request for Voluntary Retirement under rule 16(2) of AIS DCRB Rules.
I was born in the year 1966. I recollect that my father retired when I was only eight years old. He retired from the post of Sub Inspector of Police under Government of Bihar. His service was unique as he joined the British Government as Sub Inspector of Police and retired after around thirty-five years of service at the same post of Sub Inspector of Police in Independent India. Probably he failed to “appropriately” please his seniors. Perhaps he refused to implicate innocent persons in criminal cases and maybe he did not spare any of the criminals. I was then too young to understand any of these and my father never discussed these things with us.
He was granted a pension of Two hundred seventeen rupees per month on his retirement, which was one third of his salary last drawn. Those days, the pension used to be one third of the salary. Those were tough times and when I look back, I find it difficult to believe that my parents and five of us children could survive on that meagre pension of my father.
When I was eleven year old, my father motivated me to write the test for admission to the Netarhat School, a prestigious residential school run by the then Government of Bihar. Out of nearly Thirty thousand students who wrote the test, I was one of the sixty selected for admission. In those days, getting admission to Netarhat School was statistically more difficult than getting admission in IITs. Because my father had no money for my admission, we travelled to our maternal uncle's house and he lent us around Seven hundred rupees, which was the initial deposit required for admission in the school.
“Out of nearly Thirty thousand students who wrote the test, I was one of the sixty selected for admission. In those days, getting admission to Netarhat School was statistically more difficult than getting admission in IITs”Rajendra Kumar
The school was funded by Government of Bihar and the fee charged by the school depended on the income of the parents. As my father was a pensioner and was receiving only a meagre pension every month, I was placed in a category where a child had to pay only the cost of the stationery and clothes issued to him. I was not required to pay for the boarding and lodging and for other facilities including the travel cost, to and fro from home, twice a year. Still this fee of Two hundred and fifty rupees per annum was equivalent my father’s one month pension and I am sure that my father would have borrowed this amount every year from his relatives.
After class tenth, I got the National Talent Search Scholarship. Still for my Senior Secondary, I could not think of going and studying at the Science College, then the best college in the state located at Patna, my hometown. The overall annual expenditure there would have been multiple times what I used to pay at Netarhat School and it would have been difficult for me to bear this expense, as I had to send major part of my NTSE scholarship to my home to help my parents.
Hence I decided to continue my Senior Secondary studies at the Netarhat School itself. Besides the best quality of education, I also had the good fortune of imbibing high moral and ethical values of life, which was part of training at my boarding school. I would ever remain indebted to the Indian society and the state for this priceless gift of academic and life lessons at almost no cost to my family.
“Still this fee of Two hundred and fifty rupees per annum was equivalent my father’s one month pension and I am sure that my father would have borrowed this amount every year from his relatives”Rajendra Kumar
I qualified for admission to the Indian Institute of Technology in the year 1984, just after my Senior Secondary Examination and I was amongst the top Two hundred and fifty students in that competitive examination. There too, I continued to get the National Talent Search Scholarship.
During my four years of graduation, I could survive on my own without taking any money from my parents. In any case, they had no money to spare. Although the monthly scholarship of NTSE was less than monthly basic mess bill, I had savings of four months of vacation which I used to spend at my home. Therefore, I never had any problem in paying my mess bill and the annual tuition fee of Rs two hundred.
I am clear that if I had not got this scholarship, it would not have been possible for me to study at a world class Institute like IIT Kanpur. After my graduation, I joined Masters course at IIT Kanpur itself, where I started receiving sufficient stipend as a scholar. Again, I used to send substantial part of my stipend to my parents back home. In the year 1989, in my very first attempt at the prestigious Civil Services Examination, I secured a rank of Thirty sixth and was one of the youngest in my batch to join the Indian Administrative Service.
I have enumerated these struggles of my early life because I sincerely believe that had it not been for the welfare schemes of the Government, I would not have been able to come this far. This is contrary to the fashionable way of thinking in our society that the Government does not do anything for the poor and the meritorious. However, from my own life experience, I am convinced that the Government does provide all the requisite support.
The Government not only establishes and efficiently runs the best institutions in the country, it also provides for reasonable amount of scholarship to ensure that meritorious and needy children get the best education, even if their families cannot support them. If it would have not, the students like me would not have come up in life.
“This is contrary to the fashionable way of thinking in our society that the Government does not do anything for the poor and the meritorious. However, from my own life experience, I am convinced that the Government does provide all the requisite support”Rajendra Kumar
I concede that many welfare schemes of the Government need improvement and expansion, still for those non-believers, who do not believe in the welfare schemes of the government, I would like to say that despite many shortcomings in conceptualisation of the policies and programmes and its implementation on the ground, most of the government schemes have helped a very large number of citizens of this country.
I am grateful to the government for all the support which it has given to a person from a poor family, which is me. Having got so much from the government, it has always been on my mind to give back to the system, what I got from the citizens through the government. I sincerely believe that if a blessed person like me does not try to give back to the society, then probably no one else in this country would.