A function to release a book by former IAS officer P S Krishnan on Saturday turned into a felicitation of the author, who over the years has been a leading advocate on fighting the battle from within the system — fighting against caste oppression, inequality, and landlessness. Releasing the book, ‘A Crusade for Social Justice, bending Governance to the Deprived’, Narendra Jadhav, former member of Planning Commission, spoke vividly of the “treasure trove” of ideas Krishnan is — on how to pivot the idea of development in favour of the backward classes and those at the bottom of the pyramid.
Krishnan’s book is a compilation of a long conversation between Prof V Vasanthi Devi, an educationist in Tamil Nadu, and long answers to 40 questions, which spur on Krishnan to unveil what he called the “nuts and bolts of how to ensure delivery of the promise of the Constitution” into real and everyday life in India.
Krishnan said he believed in an ideology that is a blend of Marx, Ambedkar, Gandhi, Periyar and Narayana Guru. He said it is imperative that people recognise that India cannot be great until it removes inequality. “China also laughs at India, realising we are caught in the mousetrap of caste. If India truly wants to forge ahead, we must give land to the Dalits and have-nots, as economic and social emancipation and empowerment are all linked.”
Krishnan is seen as the bureaucrat who helped push major legislation: SC and ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989; Employment of Manual Scavengers and Construction of Dry Latrines (Prohibition) Act, 1993; and its subsequent avatar, Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act, 2013; Special Component Plan (SCP) for Scheduled Castes in 1978, among others.
Calling Krishnan the “rarest of the rare” of officers, Vasantha Devi said of him, “As a young officer in Andhra Pradesh, he conducts his official camps in Scheduled Caste basties and tribal villages, thereby infusing confidence and self-esteem in them, but infuriating the incredulous upper-caste-classes, and giving a cue to the echelons of governance. He launches massive drives for the distribution of agricultural lands and house sites to the landless and homeless.”
Krishnan said he regards “persecution as the award for my persistence”. Recalling what his Confidential Report said at one point, Krishnan said his superior wrote of “undue partiality to depressed classes, strident advocacy of inter-caste marriages, uses his knowledge of Sanskrit to debunk religion, trusts the words of the villagers rather than village officers, acts in a manner that helps subversive elements.”
K Raju of the Congress’s Scheduled Caste cell, himself a former bureaucrat, Srinivas Rao of CPI(M)-formed Dalit Shoshan Sangharsh Manch and Dushyant Kumar, head of BJP’s SC wing, were present and lauded Krishnan’s commitment.