|RIP: Sripriya Rengarajan|
her husband, a lawyer practising in Tamil Nadu, and two children. A condolence meeting was held in Kolkata, and as the WhatsApp message mentioned, “a handful of officers (many could not make it owing to their busy schedule) who attended it sang paeans about Sripriya Rengarajan and what an officer she had been!”
A year ago, the writer of the message that got circulated among officers, met Rengarajan. She then wanted to return to Tamil Nadu through an inter-cadre deputation. “’I think I should not be wearing a wig and make up…’ Sripriya smiled when she said, but I could see tears swell in her eyes. She had been fighting cancer for two years and now wanted to take a deputation back home,” the message mentioned.
Twelve years ago, when Rengarajan became the topper from Tamil Nadu and got an All-India rank of 72 in civil services examinations, The Hindu newspaper carried an article titled, “From housewife to topper”. A graduate in law, she took Tamil and law as her main subjects for the civils. “Preparing for examinations even while taking care of two kids was no mean task,” the May 2003 report said.
As an IAS, she joined as assistant collector in Pashchim Medinipur district in 2004, and later served as district magistrate (DM) of Hooghly district among other postings.
As her disease spread in her body, she wanted an inter-cadre deputation so that she could continue work and spend some time with her family too. She did not get inter-cadre deputation. Instead, she was allowed to proceed on leave. As the officer-writer wrote in the message, “officers do not have this luxury of private space”. "District Magistrate transferred abruptly due to liaison with a Junior Colleague", was the headline of a newspaper report next day. “It was a prominent juicy news item on front page. When officers protested with Press Council, the newspaper published a two line rejoinder on an inconsequential page,” message added.
When the writer of the message met the officer for the last time, this is what the writer remembered her: “the lining of her bald skull peeping from the wig and her frail exhausted face”. She was allowed to stay at her place but was denied the dignity to work there, the message said. “She bade farewell with a sad face and I did not see her after that day,” the writer said.
“Almost a year later when I heard about her demise, I felt lonely in this heartless bureaucracy. Is it worth it to serve honestly at faraway places, leaving friends and family and still bear this ignominy?” the writer-officer asked his fellow bureaucrats.
kya yehi h hamari service!!! (Is this the service we are in!!!)