Wednesday, August 22, 2012

தயா ஷங்கர் என்கிற தனிப்பேராளுமைக்கு அஞ்சலி

21.02.1952 - 12.08.2012

...the most important and interesting segment of the book is Part III which details the acts of valour of some of the Customs officers during the heydays of smuggling in a story-teller fashion. Mr Pande has taken the pain of piecing together even small incidents which went into the making of these heroes of Customs who have become a part of folklore within the Revenue Services.


Let me ask this simple question to young recruits of the Customs and Excise services - Who is Daya Shankar? I am more than sure that the fresh batches of officers of all ranks will not know such important parts of glorious history of Indian Customs which had locked horns with resourceful and hi-tech gadgets-equipped smuggling syndicates, specialising in gold and electronic goods smuggling through the sea routes. Officers of today have to man and plug only the official route of imports to prevent frauds. But, only about 30 years back, the entire smuggling scenario was bone-chillingly scary in the country, with two unequals fighting serious battles. Customs being ill-equipped in terms of modern gadgets and infrastructure had unrivalled strength of only the law on its side. And other party was the fearsome community of smugglers. So lucrative and well-organised it was the then that it gave birth to an icon like Dawood Ibrahim - an international terrorist, and the force behind the serial bomb blasts in Mumbai. But, do the young generations of Customs officers know that one officer whom Dawood used to fear was Mr Daya Shankar! Once in an interview with The Illustrated Weekly, Dawood was quoted as expressing his wish to work with Mr Daya Shankar as an Inspector! So devastating was Mr Daya Shankar's preventive aura among the smuggling syndicates along the Gujarat coast those days.


And what were those exemplary qualities of Mr Daya Shankar? If you read the book you may find that none of them was outlandish and out of the world! But we all know that what makes a quality rare in today's world is the simple rule of being honest to one's duty and application of mind. Among the multiple inborn and acquired assets of Mr Daya Shankar, the two prominent assets were his honesty and absolute courage! He used to be perceived so incorruptible by the smugglers that none ever made even an attempt to send him a feeler. And courage was indeed in surplus in his case. In spite of lack of infrastructural support and overt departmental back-up in the interiors of the coast, he would lead his team of daredevils in a slow-moving dhow to intercept the gold-laden dhows coming from Dubai. Undeterred by the fact that the smugglers' dhows had the advantage of getting tips from Dubai through satellite mobile phones, he used to chase and trap them in the deep sea rather than the coastline where the consignments used to disappear in small lots.

He is perhaps the only officer in the Department who had refused to accept the cash rewards given by the Department. And it is not as if he was rolling in money. A senior officer told me that long ago Daya came to his house and asked for a small loan for taking his child to the hospital. "How much", asked the senior officer. "Three", said Daya This other officer was also an honest one and he said, "I wouldn't have three thousand at home, but let me see …". Daya said, "not three thousands, but I need three hundreds!" And this when lakhs were languishing in his reward account and just a smile or a squint eye from him would have brought him Crores.
http://itcsa.blogspot.in/2012/08/former-customs-officer-daya-shanker.html



AUGUST 13, 2012

By Shailendra Kumar

THE legendary Customs officer, Mr Daya Shankar, who inspiringly fully lived his inner life, yesterday morning at 7.40 AM in Melbourne, embraced the arms of his permanent resting-room, and said good-bye to the Mother Earth. He is survived by his wife, a young son, dozens of close friends and lakhs of well wishers who had never seen or known him except for his encyclopedic acts of grit, courage and integrity. Born in 1952 in a village near Patna, he did his masters in science and then joined the Indian Revenue Service (Customs & Excise) in 1978. Right from his probation days, he showed his shining armour of honesty, dedication and sheer courage for truth and rules. By the time he was posted at Bombay Airport, the gold smuggling was the most glittering cross-border trade at its youth. His dedication for work and ruthlessness to enforce rules soon produced unheard of results - cold shivers went through the spine of the kingpins of the organised trade. A series of mega seizures of gold and silver put a halt to the flourishing trade, which turned dry to the extent that the gold salesmen in Dubai began to market information like when Mr Daya Shankar was off the duty, along with their yellow wares.


Since the gold syndicates had found an alternative along the Gujarat and Konkan coastlines for safe landing of their consignments carried in dhows (small boats), the CBEC had no choice but to again rely on its one-many army Mr Daya Shankar to monitor the sensitive coastlines. Although his Department had poor infrastructure to support him, he never cared for that and used to lead his team of daredevils in a slow-moving dhow to intercept the gold-laden dhows coming from Dubai. Undeterred by the fact that the smugglers' dhows had the advantage of getting 'inputs' from Dubai through satellite mobile phones, he used to chase and trap them in the deep sea rather than the coastline where the consignments used to disappear in small lots. And, for several years, he did what he was good at - a series of seizures, which finally contained smuggling activities, and forced the rising star on smuggling horizon Dawood Ibrahim to salute his courage as reported by the then Illustrated Weekly.

With the Customs topbrass getting intelligence about a serious threat to his life, he was forcibly sent to Australia on a 'Study Leave'. There he lost his preventive existence into the original research work relating to IPRs. As he had a fulfilling stint with the world of R & D, he sought voluntary retirement from North Block and got associated with the Deakin University. His love for IPRs vis -a-vis Third World countries had become so deep-rooted that his analytical commentaries had become legendary. I met him in New Delhi when he had come to India for a lecture on his perhaps 'first wife' - the IPR. During my interaction he, in a short span of time, sensitised me about how badly India and other poor countries need to gear up to catch up with the lost time for safeguarding its own intellectural property wealth. Meanwhile, while granting him voluntary retirement last year, the former Finance Minister and now the President of India, Mr Pranab Mukherjee, had written in his file - ''He is an exceptional, good and honest officer''.

Public Service Redefined
Mr A K Pande, Former DG, DRI
IT was very sad to learn about the premature demise of Daya Shankar. The service regrettably had lost him much earlier. He would, however, be fondly remembered by all who knew him, particularly those who had occasion to work closely with him. When honesty combines with courage, it makes for an indomitable soul, for nerves of steel, which can withstand any challenge. And honesty of such people is out of conviction and not fear. It may not instantly change the system, but leaves an indelible impact - a small step which may ultimately lead to change. Every service has such people. Daya Shankar was the ONE in our service. Such people want nothing in return, not even a name and they define what public service is. Our system does not need the honest who are unconcerned about their surroundings. It needs honest who have the courage to cleanse the system. It is certainly not self enrichment or business. Ironically, it has become just that and with a brazenness. Fence eats the crop, and having nourished on it, eats it with greater vigour ever after. Instances are not wanting, where many a public servant having robbed the exchequer, walk away with a smirk to occupy even more vintage position, thanks to their protectors and supporters. But a churning is going on currently. This time it seems the change may come. But honesty of conviction can not come overnight. It takes time to take root. People however are not ready to wait. It has been a long wait already. Therefore till that happens, honesty in public services has to be brought about by the fear of a strong law. People who are honest out of conviction, have to be at the helm. If such change comes, the efforts of the likes of Daya Shankar will not have gone in vain.

I am happy that Daya Shankar adorned a chapter of my book –‘Grit That Defied Odds’. The concluding lines of that book aptly apply to Daya Shankar:
‘A hero fears nothing, complains of nothing, and never gives way.’ - The Mother


Mr Srinivas Rao, Addl Director, DRI
SHRI Daya Shankar joined the Indian Revenue Services in the year of 1978. Naturally talented, brilliant, irreverent and eccentric in the early stages of his career itself, he distinguished wherever he worked with unflinching courage and supreme dedication. In early stages of his career itself, he earned a reputation as a man of integrity to the core, which he maintained throughout his life in all walks.

His reputation as a formidable officer came to fore while he was posted at Mumbai Airport and subsequently as an Assistant Commissioner, at Daman Coast, DRI Mumbai, M&P Mumbai and in GOA where he stood up for an honest inspector who took on the Chief minister’s brother and exposed that even the CBI is toeing the line of powerful and influential.

At Mumbai Airport, it was known to everyone that while he was on duty, Smugglers got themselves off loaded from foreign destinations. While at Daman - one of the most vulnerable places for smuggling gold and silver - Shri Daya Shankar, took upon with Mafia Don – Bakia and later JogiNani @ LalluJogi. He arrested both of them and stopped their smuggling activities and instilled a lot of confidence in the people of Daman district. What Police Department at Daman failed to do, Shri Daya Shankar could do single handedly. In another similar case, the erstwhile Chief Minister of Goa was investigated by him for smuggling activity and got him detained under COFEPOSA.

Shri Daya Shankar had excellent network of people and was capable of generating continuous intelligence on many issues related to smuggling, terrorism, Narco trafficking etc. Mumbai Police and Intelligence Bureau would seek specific information from him on complicated cases and it may not be incorrect to say that without his inputs many of the actions initiated by these Agencies would not have yielded results. For all his credible work, there were approved rewards in the form of cash incentives for Shri Daya Shankar, which were not accepted by him and returned to the Government. He could have got rewards of more than a crore of rupees in the eighties and nineties when there were no ceilings on the amount of rewards. But he did not accept even a penny as reward for his work. He considered his work as a part of his responsibility and these cash incentives did not motivate him – he was already an Inspiration by himself. No amount of money inspired him – his honesty and integrity stood above everything else.

For the post 1990 generations like me who have not seen him, he is known, as depicted by his informers, few idealistic and loyal subordinates (who could not adjust to the era of liberalization), his friends and a large number of others (crooks) as an idealist whom informers can trust with their lives, willing to go any lengths to take on the smugglers and duty evaders, as a person who is willing to give his all to his subordinates in their difficult times and who is a simple and uncomplicated human being who lived by the Gandhian ideals of SIMPLICITY, HONESTY AND INTEGRITY in whatever he did. All these ideals, which are taught to all of us in school but as we realized at various stages of life that it is almost impossible to live by (as rationalized by us) in this era. He showed everyone that it is not impossible but we lack the courage and commitment to live by them.

This embodiment of Inspiration, who protected his fellow workers and juniors in the riskiest situations at work, left for his Abode on 12th August 2012. In his death he leaves behind a legacy, now to be carried forward by his juniors in the Department.
Daya Shankar bids good-bye to Mother Earth but his legend lives on ... 




He is an extraordinarily courageous and honest Custom officer. Not the folklore but the real story is that when he used to be on duty at Bombay Airport and later along the Gujarat and Konkan Coasts, the hotels and the gold and electronic goods markets, frequented by members of smuggling syndicates in 80s and early 90s, used to display signboards in Dubai, Singapore and Hong Kong, telling them whether our 'nayak' was off the duty on that particular day. In other words, the human carriers and the dhows (small boats) carrying gold and silver bricks or electronic goods used to strategise their landing at Bombay Airport or anchoring along India's unguarded coastlines as per our hero's official schedule..

***


With our 'nayak' single-handedly becoming a major disruptionist force for the highly lucrative and organised smuggling along Maharashtra and Gujarat coastlines, the Customs topbrass thankfully perceived a major counter-threat to his life. Thus came numerous suggestions to keep him away from the radar of possible attacks. And one of the suggestions our 'nayak' probably unwillingly accepted was to take a 'Study Leave' and go to Australia. Because of certain local policies of the Australian Government he came back to India after a year but since he had not finished his research work, he was very keen to do so if an opportunity came his way. And, that indeed came after a couple of years. He went back to Australia to finish his Ph.D in 2003. Predictably, he lost himself in his research work relating to IPRs. A man, endowed with highly desirable traits like dedication to whatever he does, high IQ and acute hunger for knowledge, forgot to fulfill the procedural niceties of his parent department which initiated disciplinary action for unauthorised absence from the Department once it received his notice for voluntary retirement in 2005.

And the ground realities in Govt Departments are such that once a vigilance file opens, it never shuts down on its own unless a braveheart does so. And it took six years for the CBEC to do it. Exercising his powers the present CBEC Chairman is learnt to have decided to drop the disciplinary charges against our 'nayak' and the Union Finance Minister, after getting to know the 'least known tales' about our 'nayak' has not only shared the Chairman's conviction and accepted the notice for voluntary retirement w.e.f 2005 but also noted on the file that ''he is an exceptional, good and honest officer''. And our 'nayak' finally got justice from the Finance Minister last week.With our 'nayak' single-handedly becoming a major disruptionist force for the highly lucrative and organised smuggling along Maharashtra and Gujarat coastlines, the Customs topbrass thankfully perceived a major counter-threat to his life. Thus came numerous suggestions to keep him away from the radar of possible attacks. And one of the suggestions our 'nayak' probably unwillingly accepted was to take a 'Study Leave' and go to Australia. Because of certain local policies of the Australian Government he came back to India after a year but since he had not finished his research work, he was very keen to do so if an opportunity came his way. And, that indeed came after a couple of years. He went back to Australia to finish his Ph.D in 2003. Predictably, he lost himself in his research work relating to IPRs. A man, endowed with highly desirable traits like dedication to whatever he does, high IQ and acute hunger for knowledge, forgot to fulfill the procedural niceties of his parent department which initiated disciplinary action for unauthorised absence from the Department once it received his notice for voluntary retirement in 2005.

And the ground realities in Govt Departments are such that once a vigilance file opens, it never shuts down on its own unless a braveheart does so. And it took six years for the CBEC to do it. Exercising his powers the present CBEC Chairman is learnt to have decided to drop the disciplinary charges against our 'nayak' and the Union Finance Minister, after getting to know the 'least known tales' about our 'nayak' has not only shared the Chairman's conviction and accepted the notice for voluntary retirement w.e.f 2005 but also noted on the file that ''he is an exceptional, good and honest officer''. And our 'nayak' finally got justice from the Finance Minister last week.

Who is the 'nayak'? He is Dr Daya Shanker, IRS of 1978 Batch. Today, he teaches international business and business strategy at Deakin University, Australia. He has published extensively on the effect of the ''TRIPS Agreement on Developing Countries''. I had the good fortune to meet the 'nayak' of this column a few years back when he was in New Delhi to address the industry and trade on implications of TRIPs Agreement on developing countries like India. Although our talks veered around his subject of research but I was indeed in awe of his simplicity, enviable human qualities and also the qualities which make an ordinary officer extraordinary and legendary.

Another least known fact, which reflects his extraordinary commitment to the call of his duty is his 'BIG NO' to a neat sum of Rs 22 lakh which has been standing against his name as 'reward money'. Netizens may recall that upto certain levels, officers in the preventive formations are offered 'Reward' by the Department for having made not only good cases but also good recoveries. Over a period of time, the CBEC has sanctioned as much as Rs 22 lakh as reward money to him besides a lot more which has not been sanctioned as he said NO. Since mid-80s this sum has multiplied itself several times but our 'nayak' has politely declined to accept it as he thinks that accepting such reward goes against his commitment to respond to the call of his duty under all circumstances.

Finally, Justice is Done to Legendary Custom Officer - AUGUST 25, 2011