'Discrimination' made IAS officer quit

Tribune, 6th Sept. 2000
From Kulwinder Sandhu

DEHRA DUN, Sept 5 - Few people have convictions and fewer still have the courage of their convictions. Mr Balwant Singh is one of them. He joined the Indian Administrative Services in 1959 but resigned after just five years in 1964 because, being a Dalit, he was allegedly discriminated against by the government. Had he continued and retired on reaching superannuation, he would have been enjoying his retirement on a comfortable pension.

Mr Balwant Singh has written two books, "An Untouchable in the IAS" and "Struggle against Slavery". The first one deals with his short career in the services. The second one deals with his student days at Rampur and later at Allahabad University from where he graduated. Both describe without any rancour the hurdles he had to face to break the shackles of unjust and inhuman practices and the discrimination his community has been suffering.

"The early days in the IAS training school at Mussoorie were the happiest. Horse riding was a part of the curriculum. I became an expert rider but was not allowed to take part in a competition. Then I was asked to write a paper on the constitutional safeguards for the Scheduled Castes but was again discriminated against by not being allowed to read the paper before fellow probationers," he alleged.

His first posting was as an Additional SDM of Baghpat subdivision in Meerut district. From there he was transferred to Kanpur in the same capacity although other officers of the same batch were promoted and posted as ADMs. After six months in Kanpur, when his case was not reviewed and officers junior to him continued to be promoted, he submitted his resignation but was persuaded to withdraw it. Later, he was transferred from Kanpur to Lalitpur in Jhansi division as an SDM.

He was soon transferred to Sitapur as an Assistant Commissioner, a post junior to the one he was holding earlier. No convincing reason was given except the explanation that "he had not handled the flood situation well in Lalitpur." This was when he decided to bid goodbye to the IAS, which he had entered with high hopes. After his resignation, he studied law at Delhi University and practised as an advocate in Saharanpur.

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