CG Somiah was one of India's most distinguished civil servants. A native of Coorg, he held many important posts in the Government of India including Home Secretary, Central Vigilance Commissioner and Comptroller and Auditor General. His memoirs, The Honest Always Stand Alone, were published earlier this year. Somiah died shortly afterwards at the age of 79.
His story of how Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi called the Planning Commission a 'bunch of jokers', following which the then Deputy Chairman of the Commission, Manmohan Singh, almost put in his papers, was widely reported in the media. Here are a few other anecdotes which Somiah narrates with the gift of a raconteur in his engrossing book:
Thinking out of the box
When I was Joint Secretary, Police, there occurred an unusual incident of law and order on the lawns adjoining Rajpath near India Gate.
A prominent leader of Uttar Pradesh, Mahendra Singh Tikait, had made known his intention to march to Delhi when the Parliament was in session to protest against low farm prices. He took the Delhi Police by surprise when one night about four hundred bullock carts loaded with about two thousand farmers entered Delhi unnoticed and parked themselves on either side of Rajpath with the intention of marching towards Parliament to press their demands.
On the fifth night the Police thought of a unique plan to make the farmers retreat without using force. They set up a dozen loudspeakers and played very loud hard rock music.
The farmers were taken by surprise but they stood their ground. Near midnight, the cows and bullocks showed signs of unrest and began breaking their tethers to run away from the music. It was then that the farmers decided to retreat and by dawn they had disappeared from India Gate, heading back home.
It was the most unique method of crowd control practised by the Police; this could have happened only in incredible India!
Excerpted from The Honest Always Stand Alone by CG Somiah with permission from Niyogi Books