If there ever was to be an example of a honest serving Indian officer, that person would be Daya Shankar . An Indian Revenue Service officer of the 1978 batch, Daya Shankar passed away in Australia after a battle with blood cancer last week. Daya was just not honest. He was tough and will always be remembered for a lot of things. He came to Goa to safeguard Costao --- the Customs Officer who got mired in a scuffle with the Churchill Alemao brothers. He also came here to tell those who had to be told, that you can kill. But, when doing that, not to put the onus on others. And, he cared a damn about those who lied.
In a way, he was an enigma. He loved to laugh about the stories that circulated about himself. During those days, rumours abounded about how Daya Shankar roamed around to source information about the gold biscuits that turned into footballs, in a car bonnet. It really did not bother him. What bothered was: how we valued life against gold. Do you know, that Daya Shankar is one of the few or the only IRS officer who never claimed a paise from the Commission due to him from the seizures he was involved in?
When Daya Shankar was in Bombay, there used to be a board outside the Dubai airport displaying his roster. If this is not honesty, what was ? Dawood Ibrahim did not hate Daya Shankar. He feared him. There were times, when in frustration , he would loathe the system. “We can catch or kill him ,“ he would say. “ The government does not have the will to do so ,’ he would add.
Daya was different because he could negotiate. He could get the best out of the worst of criminals . For him, to call a spade a spade was akin to having a morning shower. However, you messed with him and you were messing with yourself.
Towards the end , Daya Shankar became disillusioned with the government. He despised Manmohan Singh. Corrupt. That’s what he said. In disgust , he took off to Australia. The genius that he was, he got a PhD and like those few honourable Indians, resigned from the IRS.
The Government refused to accept his resignation. Instead, they offered him voluntary retirement. True to what he was, he had enough and did not want anything to do with the Government. He resigned. No perks, nothing !
He was a man who strived being behind the scenes. He never allowed himself to be photographed. The closest we came to getting a portrait of him was when our veteran illustrator Shamir Diniz drew a sketch of him. He liked the attempt.
For all that he was, his epitome should read: Beyond words!