September 07, 2007

To Bain

One more person who spoke at my father Bain's funeral was Shirish Patel. Below is what he said. And thank you, Shirish.

(Previous: To a father, Remembering Bain, A gentle, fearless man).


I have known Bain for not much less than 50 years. Looking back and thinking about all the conversations we had and the things he said to me, the one thing that stands out is what he said when I joined CIDCO. He had just been appointed its Managing Director, and had persuaded me to leave my practice and join CIDCO in a position where I reported directly to him. On the day when I first joined he met me, shook my hand and said “Welcome to public service”. It doesn’t sound like anything much, but there was something in the way he said it, something that gave it an emotional charge. Because, for him, public service was what life was all about. Being a Government servant was almost incidental. What mattered was public service.

He wasn’t afraid of fighting with Government. In the days of Prohibition, when common citizens could get a liquor permit, there was a rule that Government servants could not apply for such a permit. Bain filed a Writ Petition challenging that. For which he got a punishment posting to one of the more remote and backward Districts of Maharashtra. He won that Petition, and civil servants, like all other citizens, could apply for liquor permits. He liked his evening drink, but the interesting thing is that while that Writ Petition was being fought, and the rule that Government servants could not consume alcohol was in force, he did not take a drink.

He had innumerable achievements in his long career to his credit. But I never heard him look back and reminisce or boast about them. He epitomized a little poem by Kumar Gandharva which goes like this:
    Mein thaa jiske peechhe peechhe
    Ab mein uske aage aage
    Dekha jab mein aage peeche
    Dikha sub kuchh aage aage.
Till the end, he was always looking forward. He had been ill on and off for a year and a half, but only recently filed a Writ Petition against the Anti-Corruption Bureau for not taking action against MHADA officials who had been named in a recent Court judgement as having issued false Certificates regarding tenancy rights.

These are just a few of my memories of Bain.

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