A Tide In The Affairs Of MenLife and career in civil service in India by P.K.Lahiri

A Tide in the Affairs of Men are reminiscences of a senior administrative officer from his working in the secretariat in the central government and in the state of Madhya Pradesh to his varied experiences during other relevant postings. From handling students’ agitation in the Guna district of Madhya Pradesh in 1964 to his special posting in Bangladesh after the liberation of East Pakistan in 1971; and from his years in Manila as executive director in the ADB to working closely with Dr Manmohan Singh as revenue secretary, the narrative is a public servant’s journey that relooks at some of the important milestones with passion and candour.

An extract from the foreword by Najeeb Jung

As the reader goes through the book, he will find the difference between this account and other accounts written by civil servants. A standard joke about books written by civil servants is they often speak of their own success for ‘ …when I was Collector…’, ‘ …when I was Secretary…’ etc is the repeated refrain. The authors are obviously the heroes demolishing politicians and colleagues at will. Lahiri’s approach is the opposite. True to the character, he is self-effacing, going to the extent of reiterating incidents that are an embarrassment to himself. The incident when he rather inappropriately showed muscle to the Air Commodore in Gwalior when the latter did not allow the chief minister’s plane to land in insufficient light is a case in point. Till today he is embarrassed about it. Similarly, he exhibits rare courage and commitment to secular values when dealing with serious law and order situations in Madhya Pradesh. Clearly Lahiri has through his career worked within the confines of his oath of secrecy by not revealing or quoting from confidential records (with the one exception being the interesting experience in Bangladesh), yet lucidly writing of incidents and matters that are important for a lay person to know how governments and administrations function.

About the Author

Prateep K. Lahiri has had a distinguished career in the civil service as an IAS officer spanning thirty-six years and has held the positions of secretary in the Government of India successively in two ministries: the Ministry of Mines and the Ministry of Finance. Early in his career, as district magistrate in several districts, he had first-hand experience in dealing with communal conflicts and riots. For about four years, he was India’s executive director on the Resident Board of Directors of the Asian Development Bank (ADB), Manila, with the personal rank of Ambassador. After retiring from the civil service, Lahiri was also associated with the media in the capacity of secretary general of the Indian Newspaper Society (INS), an apex chamber of the newspaper industry in India. He was also the chairman of the General Council and Executive Board of the ISM University, Dhanbad, a leading institute for technical education in the country. Author of Decoding Intolerance, this is his second book.

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6 months ago

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