Sunday, September 09, 2007

R.I.P. J.B. D'Souza

For a variety of reasons this post has come much later than it should have and I regret it.

Ex-Chief Secretary of Maharashtra and Ex-Bombay Municipal Commissioner, Joseph Bain D'Souza passed away on Sep 2nd, 2007.

I had the honor of meeting him a few times and I wish I'd been born earlier to have seen him in action. One of the reasons I started this blog was to raise awareness - and none more than my own - about issues that plague this metropolis.

In all my writings and learnings, the one thing I came to realize was the near-infinite value of a few good men. People with values, people who get things done and aren't afraid to stand their ground. Mumbai needs people like these. Because that's what it takes to change things. And J. B. D'Souza was one such person.

In the past few years, almost every minister and bureaucrat with an arm and a leg in Mumbai never missed a chance to get photographed next to the Mithi, or crib about how little Mumbai "gets from the centre" or how its multiple agencies screw things up, or OD on giving false hope on just about every important project in this city. Earlier this year, among the first few things that the mayor of Mumbai did after being appointed mayor, was rush to New York, family included. Time and again, politicians and bureaucrats go on foreign jaunts by the dozens to learn things from other cities (Shanghai?). I've not heard of anything significant being implemented in Mumbai.

And there you had J. B. D'Souza who, even after retirement, went after issues that he believed in. Implementation of the Srikrishna Commission report, low-cost housing and action against corrupt officers are the few that come to my mind and I'm sure there will be others. No headlines, no sound-bites on TV channels, just tirelessly going after things that he believed in. For a minute, can you even imagine any other politician or bureaucrat doing this in Mumbai? I can't.

That's when you realise the need, and importance, of people with a sense of duty and responsibility and people who get things done. I believe J. B. D'Souza was one such man. And Mumbai needs many more.

Rest in peace, sir. This city - this country - has lost a son who served it well, bringing honor to the term "public servant"....a term which seems quite mundane when put next to his name.

Go well sir, you will be missed. Sorely.