BVR SUBRAMANYAM- A Man of Crisis

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Brig Veteran Anil Gupta

BVR Subramanyam, a career bureaucrat of 1987 batch has to his credit service in PMO under two different PMs belonging to two different political parties with widely different ideologies. 

He was one of the six men PM Manmohan Singh trusted the most than most of the politicians of the time. From March 2012- March 2015 he was the most favourite lieutenant of PM Modi and oversaw implementation of many important schemes. He is credited with containing the insurgency in Chhattisgarh in 2010. 

Incidentally, he belongs to the Chhattisgarh Cadre and was Addl Chief Secretary Home before being selected by the CCA to be Chief Secretary of trouble-torn state J&K, wherein the administration was shaken badly after the killing of dreaded Kashmiri terrorist Burhan Wani and the state was still simmering due to its aftereffects. He assumed charge as the Chief Secretary (CS) of J&K on 20 June 2018. 

Known for his professional competence, sincerity, loyalty, hard work and no-nonsense approach he set on the path of restoring faith and confidence in the administration. His forte is the extraordinary experience in the conflict zone administration. He also had the first-hand experience of successfully containing Maoist insurgency in his previous tenure as Addl CS Home of Chhattisgarh. 

He not only devised models of seamless coordination between the state police forces and the central police forces but also oversaw fast-tracked construction of roads in inaccessible areas. Being a seasoned administrator and bureaucrat, he took little time in using his experience to the peculiar environment that existed in J&K, which was markedly different from his earlier stints. 

After having understood the nitty gritty of the complex administrative atmosphere that existed in J&K due to the prevalence of Article 370, he set on the path of rejuvenating the admin and bringing it back on rail.  He brokered no nonsense and hardly accepted any interference in his domain particularly political interference.  He thus became unpopular and earned the tag of “inaccessible”. But that is not true.

Whenever approached with issues of public concern he was not only approachable but very prompt and quick in his responses. He has zero tolerance for incompetence and was ruthless with that category. 

To bring in transparency and responsiveness in the administration he laid emphasis on digitalisation and has succeeded to a great extent. It is due to his insistence on digitalisation that today the sectt offices work in Jammu and Srinagar without moving bulky files.

The hallmark of his tenure was the smooth and bloodless abrogation of Articles 370 and 35A on 05 August 2019. The intelligence reports had suggested bloodbath on the streets of Kashmir and deaths in thousands whenever the decision was implemented. 

Subramanyam by now had gained complete control of the administration and chalked out a plan for smooth implementation of the government decision without it becoming a major law and order issue. The results have been witnessed by all, by some with respect and appreciation for the man and by some with awe but highly critical of the measures adopted. 

What matters in the end is success and nothing succeeds like success. BVR had successfully executed the task given to him. He thereafter successfully steered the transition of Jammu and Kashmir from State to Union Territory and also has been the key man in implementation of Central rules and policies after abrogation of provisions of Article 370.

He landed in controversy in August 2020 due to his famous remark that “not a single soul cried” referring to the arrest of Kashmiri leaders and earned their wrath for those who accused him of making political statements. The outburst of Kashmiri leaders was on expected lines as they were used to rule and not “to be ruled”. Loss of power and the very idea of being treated as a commoner had hit their psyche very badly and were fighting to cope with the reality. Their outburst did not make any difference to the seasoned bureaucrat who continued to work diligently according to his priorities. He also had to face testing times due to the volatile LoC, stand-off in Eastern Ladakh and the deadly pandemic. 

While, the second wave of Corona was showing signs of decline came the order from Delhi of him being appointed the next Union Commerce Secretary from 30th June. A true recognition of his competence and brilliance because in the post covid economic resurgence, the Commerce Ministry will have a major role to play.

Though his transfer was an obvious elevation, many people including few media houses termed his transfer as “being shown the exit door.” Those who used to sing his praises till yesterday became his critics. A sheer sign of frustration among those whomay have been rubbed and snubbed by him while performing his duties. Again, it goes to the credit of gentleman Subramanyam that he has chosen to ignore them.

But the reaction of two young frustrated Kashmiri politicians is worth condemning. Omar Abdullah and Sajjad Lone lost no time in taking to social media and venting their anger and frustration against the person who just “did his job.” Just because he didn’t give any importance to them, he can’t be made the villain. The political opposition in Kashmir dismissed him and was joyous over his being “shunted out” Drawing analogy to his comment of “no tears were shed” Kashmiri leaders of all hue and cry are tweeting “no one will shed a tear” least realising that no tears are shed when bureaucrats leave. 

Bureaucrats do their work as per the laid down regulations and do not compete to win over the population through populistic decisions. They issue orders based on laid down rules and do not make announcements that are pleasing but never implemented, a trademark of politicians.

Most obnoxious criticism has come from Sajjad Lone, who at one time was dreaming to be the CM and later joined the Gupkar Gang. He was also the first one to desert the Gang. So, his political compulsions and frustrations are obvious. The greatness of a person lies to tackle head on if he does not agree or approve of the actions of a bureaucrat when he is in authority and not when he is on his way out. It reflects courage and character. 

Before I bid final farewell to BVR who served the state/UT for three years, I must express my dismay at the treatment meted out to him by the LG administration. The transfer order clearly stated that the new CS was to assume charge from the day the present incumbent leaves the chair.  Then where was the tearing hurry for the GAD notification which has become a butt of joke nationwide? This is not the way to treat the top most bureaucrat that too the man who had steered the ship successfully during the most testing times in the history of erstwhile J&K and the modern day UT.

GOOD BYE BVR. BEST of LUCK and GODSPEED. YOU HAVE MILES TO GO BEFORE YOU SLEEP.