An Invaluable Book for Revenue Deptt – Latest News from Jammu and Kashmir | Tourism
Walter Lawrence was the Colonization Commissioner of Kashmir whose assigned work took him to every nook and cranny of the valley, resulting in the best book of Kashmir – “The Valley of Kashmir”, published in 1895 when the settlement operation has been completed. He had the opportunity to understand the history, geography, economy, flora and fauna and culture of the people. The tax office has always been the backbone of the administration: the oldest and most important instrument of governance.
Well, not exactly in Lawrence’s footsteps, but veteran taxman and luminary on tax issues, Virender Kumar Gupta, has accepted the indomitable challenge of writing a book about some of the tax icons, their experiences, their views and current practices. . The pain experienced by veterans over the “Fast Deteriorating Department of Revenue” and the negative talk about it prompted him to publish a book about the hidden positives, in hopes that he might stop its downfall. The stimulated awareness of a group of “concerned veterans” who supported this initiative, eventually led to the treasure, “The Land Revenue Administration in Jammu and Kashmir – Reflection of some Iconic Revenue Officers”. This is Virender’s third book, the other two are “The Manual of Instructions” and “The J&K Tenancy Act”.
The author and ‘concerned veterans’ focused on twenty iconic earning veterans: split into two groups – six legendary figures in ‘The Bouquet’ and 14 more in ‘The Trend Setters’. S/Shri Ram Chandra Dobey, Ch. Bharat Bhushan, SAS Qadri, SA Qayum, Sat Lal Koul and Raj Kumar Gupta are clubbed in the Bouquet. The other fourteen “Trend Setters” are S/Shri Bashir Ahmad Runyal, Bashir Ahmad Khwaja, Bishan Dass Sharma. Dalip Singh, Dwarika Nath Trisal, Faquir Singh, Ghulam Ahmad Peer, Ghulam Qadir Mughal, Mumtaz Afzal, Rajinder Singh Parihar, Sudarshan Sharma and Ved Parkash Gupta.
Each of them, apart from the author, left behind a legacy that the Department of Revenue and society should honor and carry forward. Their hard work, commitment, skill and compassion of these icons to bring justice to the common man and uphold the majesty of revenue law, rules and regulations is the model for new entrants. According to the experiences of these veterans, some of them have risen to the highest positions of state administration, they are the pioneers. The initial move of bureaucrats to the Department of Revenue is essential as they are trained in basic tax administration involving the implementation of tax laws, rules and regulations by a tightly knit hierarchy from the Chowkidar village to the Minister of Revenue.
Equally instructive is the foreword written by the famous bureaucrat, Shri C. Phunsog IAS (Retd) former Chief Secretary J&K who dwelt on the development of district administration and rights acquisition” Diwanee” of British rule. The foreword made the book more informative and invaluable.
Some officials were given the surnames of ‘Patwari’ and ‘Kanungo’ which are carried by their descendants. The author mentioned some of them like Nityanand Kanungo, former minister, Arjun Kanungo – singer, composer and actor, Dr HN Patwari retired Dy. Director, ISM, J&K & Kalpana Patwari, Singer Bihu from Assam.
The Book revealed the bold decisions of a few brave officers. During the reign of Maharaja Pratap Singh, the Governor of Jammu, Ram Chander Dobey who hailed from a small village of Rehi in Hiranagar tehsil ordered the return of the Kafila from the Maharani of Ramban. Maharani to beat Jammu summer all of a sudden decided to move to Srinagar but had to backtrack due to Governor’s order. It was natural for the Maharani to get angry at this humiliation and it also angered the Maharaja. Dobey was summoned. He felt the fallout of his decision and put his resignation letter in his pocket when he appeared before His Highness. Confident of his decision, he explained that in the absence of the prescribed protocol, security and prior arrangements, Maharani’s entourage should not have left Jammu. And tendered his resignation. Maharaja Pratap Singh found the correct decision. On the revenue side, Dobey has compiled “A Brief History of Revenue Administration at J&K”.
The workaholic Choudhary Bharat Bhushan, authority on revenue and governance, rarely adjourned the hearing of tax cases and invariably dictated judgments immediately at the end of arguments. True to his commitment, he once witnessed 132 mutations in one day during his visit to a remote village of Ramban. While he never hesitated to rebuke incompetent tax officials, he stood with the honest and the doers. One such example was recorded in the book. the Minister of Revenue transferred Tehsildar Kandhara Singh from Samba to the Divisional Commissioner’s office, but as FC Revenue he ordered the Divisional Commissioner to send him to Samba. The minister had to withdraw the transfer order in the face of resistance from Ch sahib.
SAS Qadri learned tax laws and procedures the hard way. An interesting story is related to his early attachment with a Patwari from Srinagar for training. When Qadri went to the Patwar Khana, he saw the Patwari surrounded by many people who responded to Qadri’s ‘third’ salaam. When introduced as a trainee, Patwari ordered him to clean the “chillum” of his hookah, which he faithfully did. Sharing this experience much later, Qadri said Patwari had no intention of humiliating him. He wanted to ‘kill’ his ego which is a prerequisite for any learning.
SA Qayum lived a difficult life and observed austerity but never lost his optimism. His father was a teacher of Persian besides Mirwaiz from Ladakh, Qayum was educated in Leh and landed jobs as a teacher, Patwari and Girdawar. The joint visit of Pt Nehru and Sheikh Abdullah to Ladakh proved lucky for him. When people complained to them about two unemployed young people, both were named. Qayum was named Naib Tehsildar. He had served as a revenue officer in the three regions and won people’s admiration. He was a conscientious professional and professed honesty with qualities of teamwork and a positive attitude which he considered essential qualities of a civil servant.
Sat Lal Koul is another pioneer who was also popular among the people of Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh due to his hard work and justice served. His father was also a Patwari who invariably took him and taught him Patwari work in addition to Urdu. He too was named Naib Tehsildar in Leh. His quest for judicial knowledge to handle court cases as a magistrate led him to the residence of the deputy judge, Udhampur. His mantra was to adopt “Hikmat-amli and throw Hakimana raveya”.
Raj Kumar Gupta also started his career as Naib Tehsildar and became Revenue Secretary. He never came to terms with the revenue “paramparra” of sending gifts to revenue officers, especially after the Kharif harvest. This “unfair” practice continued to bother him even though he was told that even J&K monarchs used to give gifts to tax officials. The author quoted from EN Mangat Rai’s book – ‘Commitment My Style’ that the Prime Minister of Punjab, Sikandar Hayat Khan always paid customary gifts to the Patwaris in the area where he owned land. It has been sought to justify it on the basis of Patwari’s meager salary. He was pained that the revenue department was going from bad to worse, pointing to the lack of training of new entrants and interest in updating revenue records as being responsible.
Apart from the invaluable experiences of the 14 Trend Setters, the book also contained an interesting chapter of “Tales and Anecdotes” of six famous revenue officers including Pradeep Gupta, Harbans Lal and Ved Parkash Gupta.
The author explained the meaning and contours of the Land Settlement, that is to say the agreement between the farmers and the State, based on the product which was land revenue. This chapter presents an interesting account of the reforms initiated in the system by Raja Todar Mal. The Patta system which provided a written document to the peasant recording the state share, was started during the reign of Sher Shah Suri. The system was not without flaws, which led to peasant uprisings. The interesting background of famous Punjabi legendary folklore is also based on one of these uprisings, Dullah Bhatti Wala. The conditions of the peasantry under the Dogra regime have also found a place in this chapter.
Generally, the book is invaluable to the revenue department, new entrants, and even the general public. The paperback is published by Anand Publications at the price of Rs 1200/-