Thursday, November 24, 2016

Wanaparthy, Income Tax and my Grandfather

I usually walk past the plaque put up in the Income Tax Department outside what is called the Wanaparthy Block, assuming it to be some quality policy statement and not bothering to read it, my mind usually gearing up for the battles within. Today I happened to glance through what was written and as it happens more often than not, my assumption had made an "ass" out of me. In a commendable act of heritage awareness the plaque had details tracing the history of the place, right from its origins to the time it was bought over by the IT Department.

Today's discovery was a tremendous act of serendipity, as my late grandfather Shri K.S.Bhatt who served in the IT Department would have been 92 years of age. Born on November 24, 1924, he joined service in Trichy in 1944 and went on to have a distinguished career spanning 38 years. He worked at several places across South India and had multiple stints in Madras, wherefrom he retired in 1982. He spent his retired life completely outside of Income Tax (barring a few instances in an advisory capacity in his early post retirement days), choosing to focus entirely on spirituality.

I did not have the opportunity to know him while he was in service, as I was born two years after he retired. However, I have had the great fortune of listening to old-timers from the CA and legal professions and his colleagues from the IT Department talk about him and unfailingly, his high level of ethical standards with great regard.

The picture appeared below in December 2011, three weeks before he passed away. It was a special feature that was published by the Times of India commemorating 150 years of Income Tax in India. I remember the morning I brought the picture to him. His face lit up instantly as he saw a picture of the Wanaparthy Block, where he served for a long time in the background, with the officers standing in front for a group photograph. There he was, standing second from right in second row of standees. Despite his ill health and fading memory, he set about the task of identifying his colleagues, which commendably he did to some extent. He passed away in January 2012, on Bhogi day.

To me, he was a worthy example of the famous quote by the Bard, "His life was gentle, and the elements
So mix’d in him that Nature might stand up and say to all the world, ‘This was a man!’