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Mukesh: Punjab’s Odd Man Out
Nice guys don’t finish second
Vimal Sumbly
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, July 19
For Mukesh Kumar, the newly appointed tehsildar of Ludhiana West, it has been a long and arduous journey for being scruplously honest. It is an irony that he was denied his rightful due continuously for the last 11 years for the “crime” of being honest. He was superseded in 1996, when he was due for promotion as tehsildar, as he could not grease the palms of higher officials.

Mukesh took charge as tehsildar, Ludhiana West, yesterday after he was promoted by Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal for his honesty. Badal has also announced that Mukesh will soon be inducted into the Punjab Civil Services (PCS).

Mukesh asserts that there was nothing extradordinary in being honest. “Aren’t we supposed to be honest?”, he asks, while regretting modestly “it is the prevalence of widespread corruption in our department that makes an ordinary person like me look extraordinary”. His modesty notwithstanding, it remains true that it is no easy task to be honest in a department that is infamous for corruption.

It is not that Mukesh Kumar has been honest by default or that he did not get any chance.

Mukesh Kumar has chosen to be honest on purpose. Some people are honest because they do not get the opportunity to resort to corruption. But for a naib tehsildar or tehsildar, being honest is something unusual and incredible. Deservingly, Mukesh has been posted as tehsildar, Ludhiana West, the most sought after job in the whole of Punjab, where people claim to offer bids for the posting.

Mukesh feels proud to be honest and he has no regrets about it. Unlike his other colleagues, he does not own a car. He lives in a modest house with his two brothers. Theirs is a joint family. He purchased a mobile phone only recently. He still travels by bus or a three-wheeler. Thankfully he has got a supporting wife and children. His two children study in a public school. “If you have not so many desires, you can live a respectable life with your honest earnings”, he says, adding he does not think that his family members are in anyway less privileged than those of his colleagues.

And how many honest officials did he encounter in his 25 years of service? “Not many”, he remarked, while adding “rather very few”. He revealed, “You are presumed to be doing all that most of us are known for and everybody expects you to do the same and once you dare to differ you are undone”. He was transferred to a nondescript place during the previous regime when he expressed his inability to do an undue favour to his minister.

His inspiration comes from his mother and a teacher of his, Bachan Singh, a naib tehsildar, from whom he received his on-the-job training. “Bachan Singh”, he said, “was scrupulously honest and he inspired me to be like him only”.

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