Moneylife Events
Governance is not rocket science; all it requires is right intent, says Dr Ashok Khemka

Speaking at Moneylife Foundation’s 4th anniversary, Dr Ashok Khemka, while reiterating that he would not join politics, said, good governance is not a rocket science and all it requires is right intent

Dr Ashok Khemka, an amazing Whistle-blower and Secretary to Government of Haryana delivered a short but powerful speech about good governance, justice and equality, to a packed hall at Moneylife Foundation's 4th Anniversary in Mumbai.


Addressing a crowd of over 500 prominent citizens, activists and whistle-blowers, Dr Khemka said, "Governance is not a rocket science. All it requires is a good neeyat or right intent. For good governance, justice and equality, one has to be effectively good and honest."


Talking about being called a ‘whistle-blower, Dr Khemka said, "I am not a whistle-blower as whatever I did and am doing is part of my duty and responsibilities. I will continue to do my duty. This is not about whistle-blowing, it is about doing your duty effectively."


Since several bureaucrats are entering into politics, people everywhere were wondering, when Dr Khemka will join the race. He however, ruled out joining politics. "I am not a quitter. I am part of this system and will stay in it. I am proud of it."


In October 2012, Dr Khemka became a household name, when heading the land consolidation department, he simply cancelled a sweetheart land deal between DLF, the real estate giant and Skylight Hospitality owned by Robert Vadra, Sonia Gandhi's son-in-law. Dr Khemka had been in this job for less than three months. Vadra had got this land transferred to him in February 2008 for Rs7.5 crore and within a few months flipped it to DLF for Rs58 crore, for a 700% windfall gain in a few months.


The government chargesheeted him saying that he is guilty of administrative misconduct and that he violated the rules by discussing the controversy in the media and criticising government policy. Just a few weeks ago, the state government charged him for showing favours to a particular party when he was the managing director of Haryana State Warehousing Corporation when all decisions were as per norms and taken by the board of directors. 


Dr Khemka is anticipating more chargesheets and private complaints but his disarming question is what should he have done when he saw a scam or a sham deal?  "Should I have just ignored Mr Vadra's land deal? Is it only that poor people will be probed?"


Interestingly, the land deal for which we all got to know of him involved Vadra and so we all tend to assume it was the Congress govt, which went after him. Here is a dose of reality. The same Dr Khemka was the blue-eyed boy of the Congress when the party was in the opposition and he had strongly opposed the acquisition of land worth crores in Gurgaon district for a private builder for a paltry sum.


Congress was very happy with him too when as the director secondary education, Dr Khemka stopped the mid-session transfer of hundreds of teachers even though the CM Chautala had personally issued transfer notes. He was promptly shunted out to an inconsequential post without an official vehicle and office. He started walking down to his office. The Congress, then in opposition, clapped from the sidelines.

Dr Khemka has worked with four chief ministers - Bhajan Lal, Bansi Lal, Om Prakash Chautala and Bhupinder Singh Hooda - and has had run-ins with all of them over his stand on various issues. As long as he does his job, Dr Khemka will be a target of politicians, no matter which party is in power. And this why people like him need the support of citizens.


It is matter of some consolation that he has been recognised for his outstanding work. Apart from the nationwide recognition he has received, Dr Khemka has been recognized Crusader against Corruption chosen for the SR Jindal Prize in 2011 along with Sanjiv Chaturvedi, another upright officer of Haryana. He also received the Manjunath Shanmugam Trust Commendation on Public Works in 2009.



nagesh kini

3 years ago

Khemka and Kejrival both studied at IITs.
Both sincerely began with wishing to reform the system.
Khemka is at it doing it single handedly from with in. But Kejrival's in his vision of being a messiah via "agit-prop politics" een to be creating a sense of political vacuum without articulating any concrete ideology, more particularly on the economic front heralding the systemic change - their 'agit-prop' roadside antics of so-called vigilantism are signs of utterly reactionary poltics they have chosen to follow spelling their doom.

Shivangni Sharma

3 years ago

He may be right governance is not a rocket science, but the same was said by the CM of Delhi and see how terrible his governance is.
I salute Mr Khemka, who knows that we can fight from within the system, just like Ms Kiran Bedi did many years ago, unlike Mr CM of Delhi who has been flying from one place to another claiming high moral ground without completing any task.

Thus as a corollary we can say the intentions of Delhi CM are not right or he would have had a smooth sailing governing this simple city state

Dayananda Kamath k

3 years ago

by his humble statement that he has done his duty. he has slapped everyone who are not doing their duty. it is high time people of india stood by such people and do thier duty of eradicating the currupt and guilty from the system.hope he will remain committed to his words and do not become another kejriwal. may be anna did not wanted to join political system for this reason only. which kejriwal failed to understand.

Simple Indian

3 years ago

Perhaps governance is not rocket science, but it's not child's play either, as AAP govt in Delhi is discovering, having surprised itself (and everyone) with a spectacular showing in Delhi polls in December. Right intent is necessary to accomplish ANY task at hand, not just governance. But, besides the right intent, one should also focus on substance over style to deliver on their promises. AAP will gradually lose its support base, as its histrionics seems targeted at getting some of their key leaders a higher political stature, particularly with LS polls around the corner.

MG Warrier

3 years ago

Congratulations, Moneylife, for giving opportunity to public to listen to sane voices which uphold the values that sustain good governance. It will take some more time and effort to convince the common man that it is not ‘politics’ which is bad but a small minority of people who claim to be politicians but are really practising something else. On one point I differ with Khemka. That is about entry into and exit from politics. Every Indian need to participate in politics, not just by voting during elections. In a broader sense, even doing one’s duty with honesty and sincerety helps improve the quality of life of fellow beings. If we give up pedestrian apathy and express our protest when we notice deviations from accepted norms and values, we are participating in politics.Those who are interested, please read my article on 'School of Politics' in February, 2014 issue of The Global ANALYST. Some points covered in the article were part of an article on political education which was published here long back.
M G Warrier, Thiruvananthapuram

nagesh kini

3 years ago

Mr. Khemka has rightly pointed out in his enlightening talk that he is no whitsle blower but performing his duties rightly. So many babus have come and gone before him and many will follow, but none with the courage of conviction to do what he has done - simply implement and enforce the provisions of law - be it a poor farmer or a son-in-law.
If AAP forms a govt. in Haryana will they make him the Chief Secretary?
Or will they find him too hot to handle?
Even otherwise he needs all our support and may his tribe increase!


3 years ago

Delhi voters are learning the hard way that Governance is more than a Rocket-Science and requires a lot more than "right intent"



In Reply to PATTABHI 3 years ago

When someone has guts to question established criminal gangs supported by congresslike parties they get Offence in reply. That does not mean we have to go on supporting such parties who have done nothing for the common man. Should we call such a system as democracy?


3 years ago

Delhi voters are learning the hard way that Governance is more than a Rocket-Science and requires a lot more than "right intent"


3 years ago

Delhi voters are learning the hard way that Governance is more than a Rocket-Science and requires a lot more than "right intent"


3 years ago

I salute his courage and 'niyat'.
People like Ashok Khemka, Arvind Kejriwal, Anna Hazare, Kiran Bedi, etc., have given back the 'josh' to Indians who were reeling under the moral and ethical downward spiral. Instead of 'Quit India' let us support them and make our country a better place.


3 years ago

All this sounds good but is of no avail in a Nation that has been turned into a dung heap by 66 years of Quota-Corruption Raj. This reminds me of H.G.Wells' novellette :"The Country of the Blind". In a Nation that since 1947 has dismantled primary and secondary education along with the "rule of law", with its grotesque constitution, laws and courts, and turned itself into a Majoritarian Sociometric Kleptocracy, good intentions have as much likelihood of survival as a snow ball's chances in a bon fire. Khemka's case is illustrative. Is it not? I say unto the few surviving Indians who have both competence and integrity, take Gandhi's advice. Quit India.

Vinay Joshi

3 years ago

Why IAS lobby not behind respected Dr.Ashok Khemka?

Why the highly placed bureaucrats in Delhi 'SHUN THEIR VOICE'?

Apart from his IIT, he is TIFR doctorate! The Haryana politicians may not even know about TIFR! What it stands for? Forget governance!

He stands by his principles.

In fact if he is further hounded, he should put up a petition in SC for a forensic audit of his claims.

IAS lobby also chooses. It was behind Durga Devi for political reasons & being a woman!

C'mon all, another controversial Central Govt. aspect i'm putting up in respect of Robert Vadra, the 'jamai' of the first family!

Before boarding the plane, apart from designated VVIPS, [constitutional heads it means] can't be frisked.

There is Warden of Precedence to follow the protocol.

Even if the Army Chief is flying out, he has to declare that he is not carrying a 'gun' - 'on board the plane'!



How come in the 'warden of precedence' he finds a mention?

As a matter of fact there are many 'Khemka's around', such many people will be more informative to tackle the corruption onslaught.


Sensex, Nifty put in a small rally: Weekly Market Report

If Nifty does not fall below 6025, a short rally is likely. But selling pressure will appear around 6150 for a further decline

The BSE Sensex closed at 20513.85 (down 620 points or 2.93%) while the NSE Nifty closed at 6089.50 (down 177 points or 2.83%).


As anticipated last Friday, Sensex, Nifty weakened this week. A massive decline in the US on the previous Friday, followed by a sharp fall in Asian markets on Monday on concern over slower Chinese growth and reduced Federal Reserve stimulus pulled the domestic indices lower. Nifty witnessed its highest daily loss since 3 September 2013. Nifty closed at 6,136 (down 131 points or 2.09%).


However, in spite of the surprise move by the RBI of raising the repo rate by 25 basis points to 8% the market managed to immediately recover from the days low and close almost at the same level as on Monday. Nifty closed at 6,126 (down 10 points or 0.16%) on Tuesday.


On Wednesday, after trading in the green for almost the entire session the index plunged into the negative. The data released on Tuesday in US showed on one hand consumer confidence climbed in January while on the other hand the orders for big-ticket US goods in December and the US home prices in November fell. Nifty closed at 6,120 (down 6 points or 0.10%).


On Thursday the market was pulled further lower on the step of the scaling back of stimulus by US Federal Reserve. However the government tried to bring confidence in the economy by its statement that India's economy is better prepared for the consequences, if any, of reduction in bond purchases by the US Federal Reserve and that the government and the RBI will continue to remain vigilant and will take whatever steps are necessary to ensure that there is stability in the financial markets. Nifty closed 6,074 (down 47 points or 0.76%).


On Friday the market broke the five day of negative move and closed marginally in the positive. Nifty closed 6,090 (up 16 points or 0.26%).


On Friday, the government data released on fiscal deficit showed that it has touched Rs 5.16 trillion during April-December, or 95.2% of the full year target, compared with 78.8% a year ago.  On account of this it is anticipated that the finance minister P Chidambaram may slash investment spending to meet the budgeted target of 4.8% of gross domestic product, highest among BRICS nations of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.


All the other indices on the NSE closed in the negative, the worst two performers were Realty (8%) and PSU Bank (7%).


Among the Nifty stocks, the top five stocks for the week were BPCL (6%); BHEL (5%); H C L Technologies (4%); G A I L (2%) and A C C (1%) while the top five losers were Jaiprakash Associates (14%); D L F (10%); Bank of Baroda (9%); Maruti Suzuki  (8%) and IndusInd Bank (7%).


Of the 1,357 companies on the NSE, 283 companies closed in the green, 1,045 companies closed in the red while 29 companies closed flat.


Out of the 27 main sectors tracked by Moneylife, top five and the bottom five sectors for this week were:


Top ML sector


Bottom ML sector


Consumer Products


Real Estate


Software & IT Services












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Life is what happens to you when you’re waiting for your Ved Mehta interview

Harsh Desai recounts his experience at the Jaipur Literature Fest, where he tries to score an interview with Ved Mehta. Along the way, he met noted celebrities like Jhumpa Lahiri, Suhel Seth and Urvashi Butalia

I thought I was done with the Jaipur Literary Fest; in earlier editions of the fest, I sat with Martin Amis and discussed father-son relationships over lunch and a glass of wine. Then, I discussed with New Yorker Editor, David Remnick, who correctly predicted that Mitt Romney had no chance of winning the 2012 US elections. I also talked to Richard Ford about Anne Beattie and to Jay McNerney about drugs. I cracked jokes with Ben Okri. The literary fest had become large and unwieldy; after all is there really a better way to know a writer than his books?

I had been to Jaipur a couple of months ago on my way to the Pushkar Camel Fair. I thought may be I should just give the Jaipur Literary Fest a miss this time. If Philip Roth or Haruki Murakami comes, I will give it a shot. When I met William Dalrymple at the Times Literary Fest in Bombay he told me that the highlights were Jonathan Franzen and Jhumpa Lahiri. However, I was not captivated by either of them even though both are, undoubtedly, top flight writers. When my friend, Alan Horowitz, put up a post on Facebook, I realised that Ved Mehta and Cheryl Strayed were coming. This prompted me to pack my bags and book tickets right away.

From the airport in Bombay, I called up Sanjoy Roy who organises the event and requested if he could fix an interview with Ved Mehta. On the first day of the Jaipur Literary Fest I went to the press gallery and asked when I could interview Ved Mehta. I was told it would be for 2’o clock in the afternoon. I wandered away, as Amartya Sen commenced his keynote address, and droned on to check out who were all there at the fest and the happenings.

As I moved away from the front lawns and walked towards the durbar hall, I saw Chiki Sarkar, publisher of Penguin India, standing outside the Penguin stall. I went upto her and introduced myself. She didn’t recognise. Then, I told her that we had met at Khushwant Singh’s house a couple of years ago. Still, she didn’t recognise me. Then, I told her that I met her sister last month at Vim Bissel’s party in New Delhi while she was hanging out with Vikram Seth. Again, no reaction. Then, I told her that I am Ashok Desai’s son. So, I asked her if I could have an invitation to the Penguin party that night. Of course, she cooed and instructed one of the girls to give the invitation. I thanked her profusely.

Then, I attended the Ved Mehta session which was called Face-to-Face with Ved Mehta: A Conversation with Samanth Subramanian. After the session, I went up to wait at the press gallery for Ved Mehta, but was told, at around 2:30pm, that Ved Mehta was tired and would not be doing any interviews.  

At 8pm promptly, I was at the Rambagh Palace. The Penguin party was held inside a tent on the sumptuous Palace lawns. After a while Ved Mehta arrives, with his wife Lynn by his arms. I quickly made my way to where Ved was standing and waited for an opportunity to speak to him. I went upto Ved Mehta and told him that I had come all the way from Bombay to interview him. He asked me if I came by plane. I said yes. I told him that I wanted to ask hardball questions; however, he was reluctant and didn’t want to do the interview. At this point of time, I realised that if I pressed further, then I may have to make amends to get myself into Ved’s good books again. I told him that I had heard a wonderful story about his Nantucket bicycle trip and how he did it. I also told him about an article he had written about philosophers and how hard he had worked for the article.
He told me that he always worked hard on articles on contemporary philosophy.

Then I talked about the Maine house and enquired how much the house cost. He told me that I would not be able to afford it. I told him that he didn’t know my networth. He looked little embarrassed by my comment. However, I told him that it wasn’t for me but for some common friends. He wandered away.

Then, I caught up with his daughter Sage and son-in law and told them that I really wanted to ask Ved how his articles were so visual. His son–in-law told me that it is the any journalist or writer does: by asking questions, by research, and all that sort of thing.

When I caught up with Ved, again, I asked whether he had read a book of poems I had sent him through a common friend, Dorry. However, he told me that he never received the book. Then, I asked when I could interview him. He told me to call the next day to fix a time.

After a while, I wandered around and spotted Suhel Seth. I found him agitated about something and enquired. He told me of the horrific news of Sunanda Pushkar’s death. I was quite shocked by the news.

Then, I approached Penguin worldwide boss and discussed the future of the printed book. He reckoned that ultimately 50% of the books would be printed and remaining would be digital. However, he did not know what the situation in India would be like. But, he said penguin was doing fine and would not be affected.

The next morning, Saturday, I called up Ved Mehta. However, I was told that he would not be speaking to anyone today. The highlight of the day was Jhumpa Lahiri, who was both articulate and beautiful. She was living in Italy writing a nonfiction book. Tarun Tejpal, who was always a fixture at the Literature Fest was nowhere to be seen.

On Sunday I went to the press centre and was told that I could sign up for an interview with Ved Mehta. When I signed up I was told I was 9th in the list. I got a bit agitated, wandered off to the lunch arena, picked up a glass of red wine and introspected. Urvashi Butalia happened to pass by. I invited her to have wine with me. We talked about the difficulties of running a small press in India and the difficulties of selling books.

Then, when I get myself lunch (piping hot pasta) and tried to find a place, I couldn’t. A man seated close by told me in a quiet voice to sit alongside him. He was none other than Ben Anderson, the famous documentary maker. He told me that he was going to Columbia the next day to investigate tungsten mining; he had just come back from Afghanistan. I asked him why he put himself in danger. Was it adrenaline rush? He replied that important stories had to be done. He regaled me with daring stories, especially of the one of woolly sheep of Kandahar and how Kalashnikov rifles were tucked on the undersides.

Finally, I was told that Ved Mehta would not be doing the interview.



Veeresh Malik

3 years ago

This is one of the best articles I have read in MoneyLife. Very early in life I had learnt that the art of granting interviews has now been totally converted into the Art of Carbonated water, in India, if you close your eyes, you will not be able to make out anything.

All the best. I think you could have made up an imaginary interview and called it "dream sequence". Your readers who are your constituency would have enjoyed it.

And Maine is so cold that it is not even funny.

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